The almost 1,000-year-old find is believed to be the oldest known Christian cemetery in northern Poland’s Dobrzyn Land. Poland officialy adopted the Christian faith in the year 966, transitioning from paganism to Catholicism. Archaeologists have now uncovered new evidence of Christianity in the Starorypin Prywatny, discovering the skeletal remains of women and children in 30 graves.
Lead archaeologist Dr Jadwiga Lewandowska of the Dobrzyn Land Museum in Rypin said: “Until now, based on uncovered artefacts, we thought the necropolis dated back to the 12th century.
“Thanks to the physicochemical analysis of bones discovered last year, we know that it already existed in the middle of the 11th century.”
The burial site yielded a number of gruesome discoveries, including the body of a woman with a boulder on her chest.
Another woman was buried on her side in the foetal position.
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It is likely the woman was tied up when she was buried.
And the majority of the bodies uncovered at the site were of children.
These were children aged two-and-a-half to four-years-old.
One of the burials also appears to have been a premature birth.
Professor Krzysztof Szostka of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw said: “What is interesting, it was in this grave that we found probably the most beautiful necklace we have so far been able to find at the cemetery.”
So far, the archaeologists have only explored a few hundred square metres of it.
The cemetery was discovered in a corn field and, unfortunately, many of its graves have been destroyed by the ploughing of the land.
None of the bodies unearthed at the site have been linked to other religious practices outside of Christianity.
The archaeologists believe this is good sign Christianity reached this part of Poland earlier than the mid-11th century.