Teutonic battle axes found in Polish forest

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Three Teutonic battle axes from the late Middle Ages have been found by engineers who remove World War II artillery shells left the forests in the Forest District Wipsowo (Warmia and Mazury). Historic weapons will be donated to the museum.

Teutonic battle axes found in Polish forest
Teutonic battle axes found in Polish forest
The three Teutonic battle axes found by engineers in Poland’s Forest District Wipsowo 
[Credit: PAP/Tomasz Waszczuk]

Engineers stumbled upon the historic axes by chance, while searching the woods metal detectors. The weapons have been initially identified by an archaeologist as late-medieval Teutonic battle axes.

Iron axes were close to each other, shallow underground, among the roots of trees. “It can be assumed that this is a deposit that someone left for better times. Perhaps the person fled, hid the weapons and never returned to this place” – told PAP Agata Trzop-Szczypiorska, responsible for archaeological supervision of the engineers’ work.

According to the archaeologist, clearing the forest of unexploded shells has just begun, so there is hope for more finds. After completion of the work, Teutonic axes will be preserved and donated to the Museum of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

Maciej Gorczyca of Telkaz, head of the engineering work in Forest District Wipsowo told PAP that approx. 95 hectares of forest would be cleared of unexploded shells by the autumn of 2015. Engineers found thousands of World War II artillery shells of various calibres.

“Probably when the Germans retreated before the Red Army in 1945, they blew up their ammunition storage. Force of the explosion threw the shells around” – said Gorczyca. He emphasized that the unexploded shells his squad found were rusted but armed with detonators, and therefore dangerous to humans.

Sapper work is currently being carried out also in the districts Jedwabno and Przasnysz. Regional Directorate of State Forests in Olsztyn urges mushroom pickers to stay away from the places where unexploded ordnance is being removed.

Forest cleaning was financed from EU funds under the project “Restoration of degraded, post-military training and post-military areas managed by State Forests National Forest Holding”. 57 Polish forest districts participate in the project. The entire project is expected to cost PLN 130 million and cover more than 24 thousand ha of forests.

Source: PAP [September 19, 2014]

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