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A 14th century papal bulla found in north-western Poland

01.04.2024 20:47
"A fragmented leaden papal seal from the Middle Ages was discovered near Wysoka Kamieńska village" - said Grzegorz Kurka, director of the Museum of the History of the Kamieńska Land, announcing the "unbelievable" find.
A lead papal bulla issued under Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) - illustration image
A lead papal bulla issued under Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) - illustration imageSurrey County Council, David Williams / The Portable Antiquities Scheme / Wikimedia Commons

A papal bull is a type of public decree or charter issued by a pope during their reign. Many ancient papal bulls included a metal seal ('bulla'), recognizable to modern metal detectors.  The valuable artefact was found by detectorists from the Saint Kordula Association during their search of the area near the railway tracks on 108th road in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship.

"We were focused more on finding WW2 military items, because this area was the escape route of the Germans to Wolin. How did the bulla find itself near this road? Where did it come from? We don't know! Maybe it was transported with soil from another area, for example, during the construction of a new road surface? Or maybe it was lost in transport?" - said the finder of the seal, the Saint Kordula Association president Jacek Ukowski, speaking for the Polish Press Agency PAP.

One hypothesis assumes that the bulla was destroyed on the way to its addressee - and discarded at the edge of the road. Significantly for the probability of such an explanation, the artefact was found eleven kilometres from Golczewo (Schloss Gülzow), where the bishops of Kamień resided in the castle in the 14th century.

This is the third papal bulla that has been given to the Museum of the History of the Kamieńska Land in recent years. "Only a dozen or so items of this type have been discovered in the country and they are considered unique. Mr. Jacek is the only person in Poland who managed to find two papal bullas, and more so - within one year!" - emphasised the Museum of the History of the Kamieńska Land director.

According to Grzegorz Kurka, there is an uncial inscription on the obverse of the bulla: in the first row "...NE" and below "...US". However, the name of the pope is incomplete, so from the inscription it is impossible to identify which one the relic might be related to. Still, the preserved letters and the iconography make it possible to date the item to between 1303 and 1352. 


Source: PAP, polskieradio.pl, CBS