Zapomniane złoto – nieznane cmentarzysko kultury przeworskiej z Plebanki na Kujawach
Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie, ul. Długa 52, 00-241 Warszawa
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2014;LXV(65):95–124
In the summer of 1919 Józef Kostrzewski, Director of the Prehistory Seminar of the Philosophy Department at the newly founded University of Poznań, made the first museum review in the newly independent Poland; he started his several weeks’ tour at Włocławek. Archaeological materials collected at that time are invaluable today because many of them are our only record on otherwise unknown artefacts, subsequently destroyed or gone missing during World War II. One of these specimens is a fragment of a gold twisted bar neckring with a pear-shaped fastening then held by the regional museum in Włocławek. The neckring had been offered to the museum by Jerzy Raczyński, son of the director of the spa in nearby Ciechocinek. From what is known about Raczyński son, this must have happened between August 1914 and August 1915. During World War II most of the collections of the Włocławek museum were destroyed or stolen, and the neckring shared this fate. In literature it remains largely unknown. Kostrzewski mentioned it briefly only once, in 1955, after which date the neckring virtually dropped out of sight. In the drawing made by Kostrzewski the surviving neckring fragment has a length of c. 95 mm, its rod body has a thickness of c. 4 m and the pear-shaped fastening is without decoration (Fig. 1). Kostrzewski recorded that the neckring was discovered by accident in “a pit”, dug in a sheepfold of what was then a manor farm of Plebanka, nowadays in Aleksandrów Kujawski County (Fig. 2), under a stone (or stones?), next to (inside?) an ornamented clay pot, together with some fragments of (human?) bones and copper. A sketch shows the fastening part of the neckring, as visibly distorted, presumably in fire (Fig. 1, 3:a). This suggests that the finds came from a cremation grave, probably urned, covered with a stone slab (or a number of smaller stones). Even though all the records pertaining to the former landed estate Plebanka were lost during World War II, and the farm buildings were rebuilt or pulled down, locating the former sheepfold with precision is still possible, thanks to the information of the elderly inhabitants of the village. The grave discovered there just after the outbreak of World War I could belong to a prehistoric cemetery, never recorded, found on the eastern margin of a compact cluster of Przeworsk Culture settlement in the Kujawy region (Fig. 2). The neckring itself is one of a group of elite male ornaments, recognized as symbols of power and social status. Gold twisted bar neckrings with a pear-shaped fastening (type ÄEG 376) are known mainly from Scandinavia (Fig. 3–5), and dated to phase C1b, possibly also, to phase C2. The neckring from Plebanka is one of the rare individual specimens of this type discovered to the south of the Baltic Sea, and it is also the first of its kind to surface on Przeworsk Culture territory. Two gold neckrings type ÄEG 376 were recorded in Wielbark Culture territory, at Dobrocin/Wilamowo, Ostróda County (Fig. 3:c), and at Gardeja/Szlemno, Kwidzyn County (Fig. 3:b), both in northern Poland (Fig. 5). To be precise, the neckring recorded as discovered at Dobrocin (former Groß Bestendorf, Kr. Mohrungen) was found on land then belonging to a grange of Klein Wilmsdorf. Nowadays this is the area of village Wilamowo (former Wilmsdorf, Kr. Mohrungen), bordering Dobrocin, hence the double provenance given for this particular find – “Dobrocin/Wilamowo”. The situation of the other neckring find is similar: it was discovered in 1894 at a location then known as Abbau Garnseedorf, Kr. Marienwerder. Until 1936 Garnseedorf (Polish Szlemno vel Ślemno) was a village close to the town Garnsee (Polish, Gardeja); Abbau Garnseedorf may refer to a number of farms that were found to the east, south and west of Garnseedorf. At present, any of the fields belonging to those farms may be identified as a findspot of the gold neckring. In 1936 Garnseedorf was made part of Garnsee, the present-day village of Gardeja, hence the double name used for this find – Gardeja/Szlemno. Recently, one more gold twisted neckring came into light in the same region, in the largest known cemetery of the Wielbark Culture at Czarnówko, Lębork County. However, it is not certain whether its fastening was pear-shaped, because both terminals of this specimen are missing (Fig. 12). The same applies to a very small fragment of a neckring, presumably also type ÄEG 376, recovered from a Przeworsk Culture cemetery at Jadowniki Mokre 1, Tarnów County, in southern Poland (Fig. 5). From the area to the south of the Baltic Sea comes one more gold neckring of this type. It was discovered at Gęstowice, Krosno Odrzańskie County (Fig. 3:b), in one of the most richly furnished graves of the Luboszyce Culture. Despite repeated publication this specimen remains almost unknown, since together with the other gold objects from the same grave in 1923 it was sold for scrap metal and presumably melted down. The largest and heaviest of all the complete neckrings attributed to type ÄEG is the one from Dobrocin/Wilamowo, with a diameter of 182–185 mm and weighing 151.2 g; the lightest was the neckring from Gardeja/Szlemno, with a weight of c. 30–40 g and a diameter of nearly 140 mm. The neckring from Czarnówko may have also been one of the lighter specimens – its weight, estimated on the basis of the fragments could have been c. 40–50 g. The original weight of the neckring from Gęstowice is estimated as in the range of c. 85–115 g. The weight of the Scandinavian neckrings fits between c. 50 g (Källunge parish, Gotland) and more than 130 g (Valkerby, Södermanland). The majority of the gold twisted bar neckrings with a pear-shaped fastening are stray finds. The neckring from Plebanka is the sixth, possibly seventh, specimen of this type, certain to come from a grave context. Three assemblages have a reliable dating: the grave from Dobrocin/Wilamowo – to phase C1b; grave R433 from Czarnówko – phase C1a; grave 7 from Neudorf-Bornstein – phase C2. Phases C1b–C2 or C2 is also the dating of a neckring from a grave at Heffinds in Gotland, but the integrity of this assemblage is open to discussion. Also the neckrings from the bog-finds Illerup and Porskjær in eastern Jutland are also dated to phase C1b. This supports a similar dating, within horizon of phases C1a–C1b, of the neckrings from Plebanka and from Gęstowice, and presumably, also of the neckring from Jadowniki Mokre. The site at Plebanka lies on the easternmost margin of a compact settlement concentration of the Przeworsk Culture in the Kujawy region. In the immediate neighbourhood of Plebanka, c. 2 km to the south-east lies the destroyed cemetery at Ostrowąs, with materials from the Late Pre-Roman Period and the Early Roman Period. Some 9 km to the north is a settlement complex at Otłoczyn, in use starting from the Late Pre-Roman Period until at least the younger stage of the Late Roman Period. At Przybranówko, c. 5 km to the south-west of Plebanka, we have a record on a grave dated reliably to phase B2, whereas a settlement complex at Opoki, c. 7 km to the west of Plebanka, includes a cemetery, investigated by excavation, established during the Late Pre-Roman period and used at least until phase C1a. A dozen-odd sites in the region of Plebanka investigated by a surface survey yielded finds of pottery made using the potter’s wheel, which dates them to the Late Roman Period (Fig. 3). Both gold twisted bar neckrings – from Plebanka and from Jadowniki Mokre – are exceptional finds in Przeworsk Culture territory. Leaving out the neckring set with garnets from Wrocław-Rędzin, dating from the first half of the 5th century, and thus, possibly with a “post-Przeworsk” attribution, to date only three gold neckrings were recorded here: one discovered in unknown circumstances in the region of Głogów, and two, from the elite burials (“princely graves”) at Wrocław-Zakrzów. Scanty and largely unconfirmed information on the circumstances of its discovery prevent a closer analysis of the grave inventory from Plebanka. Its seems however that this was a regular cremation grave, urned perhaps, of a man of high social status within the local tribal group, and possibly, also a member of an interregional military elite, who was buried during the 1st half of the 3rd century AD.