History of the collection
The Gdansk Archaeology Collection Research Unit was set up in 1993 by creating a distinct collection from some of the existing holdings of the Medieval and Post-Medieval Department.
The aim of the Unit (now renamed the Gdańsk Archaeology Collection) was to collect materials from Gdańsk’s historic city centre (within the bounds of the its post-medieval fortifications), dating from the early medieval to post-medieval period.
The growth of the collection
From an initial 10,600 catalogued entries, the collection has grown to nearly 200,000 catalogued artefacts thanks to the large number of excavations the Museum has carried out in Gdańsk.
The oldest objects date from the 11th–13th centuries and were excavated at Gdańsk’s early medieval stronghold and its adjacent craftworking settlement, and at a cemetery site located near the present-day Dominican Church of St Nicholas.
The bulk of the collection consists of artefacts from the medieval chartered town of Gdańsk (14th–17th century), which were recovered from excavations in the Old Town (Stare Miasto), Granary Island (Wyspa Spichrzów), Long Gardens (Dłudie Ogrody), and in smaller numbers from sites in the Main Town (Główne Miasto) and Old Suburb (Stare Przedmieście).
A wealth of artefacts
The collection boasts a large assemblage of local and regional pottery as well as a significant quantity of imported ceramics: proto-stoneware and stoneware, mainly from the Rhineland and Saxony, and faience from today’s Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Other notable ceramic finds include a large assemblage of ceramic building materials in the form of stove tiles.
We also have a sizeable assortment of metalwork in our collection. It includes various types of metal building materials (hinges, hooks, fittings, hasps, etc.), tools and equipment (hammers, planes, drills, saws, pronged fishing spears, axes, chisels, etc.), items of everyday household use (knives, spoons, padlocks, metal vessels, candlesticks) as well as weapons and horse riding accessories (spurs, arrowheads, crossbow bolts, spearheads, fragments of protective wear such as chainmail and armour, and a few daggers and fragments of swords and cutlasses).
Metal ornaments and dress accessories are a spectacular highlight of the collection. Unfortunately, most of them are made of brass and tin, in other words metals that were meant to imitate gold and silver. Among these items there are finger rings, chains, brooches, buckles and belt fittings. This category of artefacts also includes one of Europe’s largest assemblages of pewter pilgrim badges from virtually every shrine in medieval Europe.
We have also amassed a substantial array of leatherwork, including medieval and post-medieval footwear and fragments from articles such as pouches, bags, protective cases and book covers.
The collection also features an interesting group of items made of bone and antler, such as combs, toilet accessories, gaming pieces and dice.
Glass artefacts are relatively modestly represented in the collection, in particular glass fineware such as rummers, beakers, goblets and carafes, which were widespread by the 16th century. Most of the examples in our collection are fragmentary and were made in forest glassworks in Central Europe and workshops in the Low Countries (Antwerp) and even Italy (Venice).
Gdańsk Archaeology Collection
Agnieszka Ruta – kierownik
tel. +48 58 305 44 10 ext. 40
1. Single-sided bone/antler comb, 11th–12th century.
2. Silvered bronze temple ring with S-shaped finial, 11th–12th century.
3. Amber cross, 11th–12th century.
4. Double-sided bone/antler comb with decorated central plate, 13th century.
5. Early medieval pottery from the Gdańsk stronghold, 12th century.
6. Penannular brass brooch, 1200–1250.
7. Tin pendant with a depiction of a saint, early 13th century.
8. Lunula – crescent-shaped pewter pendant, early 13th century.
9. Pewter ring inscribed with the words AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA, 14th–15th century.
10. Iron key to a casket, 14th–15th century.
11. Stoneware Jacobakanne jug from Siegburg, 14th–15th century.
12. Greyware pipkin, 14th–15th century.
13. Stave-built wooden bowl, 14th–15th century.
14. Wooden patten with decorated leather upper, 14th–15th century.
15. Fragment of Moorish-style lusterware faience plate, import from Spain, 14th–15th century.
16. Fragment of stove tile with a depiction of the Madonna and Child, c. 1550.
17. Decorated brass belt buckle, 1450–1500.
18. Pewter engagement brooch with a clasped hands design, 14th–15th century.
19. Openwork brass brooch, 14th–15th century.
20. Book corner piece depicting an eagle, cut from a sheet of brass, 14th–15th century.
21. Glazed stove tile with a rosette motif, late 15th–16th century.
22. Terracotta figurine of the Madonna and Child, 15th–early 16th century.
23. Reconstructed stoneware jug with funnel-shaped neck, Siegburg, 1550–1600.
24. Set of glazed pottery vessels (pot, jug, bowl and pipkin); late 15th–16th century.
25. Decorated flute glass, 15th century.
26. Leather bag flap richly decorated with figural motifs, mid-15th century.
27. Leather shoe of the bear’s paw type; 1500–1550.
28. Small spring scissors made of iron, 16th century.
29. Pivoted scissors made of iron, 16th–17th century.
30. Tin spoon with decorated handle and maker’s mark, 17th century.
31. Iron knife with decorative handle, 16th century.
32. Hanseatic-type tin jug with lid, 16th century.
33. Rectangular iron padlock, 16th–17th century.
34. Brass barrel spigot with cockerel-shaped tap, 15th–17th century.
35. Lead cloth seal with textile fragment, 17th century.
36. Lead token featuring the coat of arms of Gdańsk, 1565.
37. Brass candlewick trimmer, 17th century.
38. Stove tile decorated with a hunting scene, late 16th–17th century.
39. Faience plate with an image of a man’s head, import from the Low Countries, 1550–1600.
40. Werra ware painted bowl, import from Germany or Holland; 1580–1650.
41. Fragment of stoneware jug from Westerwald, 16th–17th century.
42. Two-handled pipkin, Dutch import; 1600–1700.
43. Redware olive oil jug, import from Portugal, 15th–16th century.
44. Cylindrical, footed glass painted with coloured enamels, 1634.
45. Decorated leather book cover, 16th–17th century.