A medieval sword has been discovered in south-east Poland, preserved almost entirely intact. It's thought that the knight that carried it could have fallen into the marsh where it was found and died.
The 600-year-old sword was discovered near the small town of Hrubieszów, close to the border with Ukraine. Only the padding of the hilt has been lost, with the full blade intact.
"The place where the discovery was made is a wetland and a peat bog," Bartłomiej Bartecki, director of Fr. Stanisław Staszic Museum in Hrubieszów, told the Polish Press Agency. "It is possible that an unlucky knight was pulled into the marsh, or simply lost his sword."
The sword is 1.2 metres long and would have weighed just 1.5 kg when it was new. It is well balanced and would have been perfect for fencing, Bartecki said.
Even the original markings on the sword have been preserved. A cross inscribed on the sword's hilt is thought to have been a maker's mark, which would have been hidden by the wood, bone or antler that the knight would have gripped while wielding the sword.
Conservators will analyse the sword for further less obvious potential marks in Warsaw, before it returns to the Stanisław Staszic Museum in Hrubieszów.
"This treatment will also help determine its owner. We believe that there could be engraved signs on the blade near the hilt; those were most often made by swordmakers who marked swords for the knights. This could help us determine the origin of the weapon," said Bartecki.
The person who discovered the sword was not an archaeologist, but quickly handed the find over to the Hrubieszów museum.
"This is a unique find in the region. It is worth pointing out that while there are similar artefacts in museum collections, their places of discovery is often unknown, and that is very important information for historians and archaeologists," Bartecki said.
Archaeologists have not yet visited the site to excavate it further. They are planning an expedition to the site in the coming days to search for other remains of the knight's armour and weaponry. They hope that this investigation will shed light on how the sword came to be left in the marsh.