Construction date of first Polish ruler’s palace confirmed

The construction of the palace and church complex on the island of Ostrów Lednicki began in the years 936-985, the latest research has revealed. During the reign of the first ruler of the Polish state, Mieszko I, Ostrów Lednicki was one of the main defensive and administrative centers of the kingdom.

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Researchers agree that the first Piasts did not have a capital; they moved between the main fortified settlements of the country, which contained palas buildings, i.e. residential and sacred buildings. Mieszko I probably used residencies in Poznań, Gniezno and Ostrów Lednicki.

Previous conclusions about the age of the complex on Ostrów Lednicki were based mainly on architectural analyses. The use of modern statistics allowed researchers to establish that its construction began in the years 936-985 (with nearly 70 percent probability). The analyses were performed by Professor Tomasz Goslar from the Poznań Radiocarbon Laboratory.

“Everything indicates that the construction of the palace and church complex began just after the erection of the bridges leading to the island,” coordinator of the new research project, Danuta Banaszak from the Museum of the First Piasts in Lednica, told PAP.

During previous dendrochronological analyses, scientists determined the felling date of the trees used in its construction - the years 963-964. This means that the palas was built during the reign of Mieszko I (960-992).

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“Our latest research allows us to define the complex in Lednica as one of the oldest structures of this type in Poland with a very high probability,” Danuta Banaszek said.

During the research, scientists also discovered six tiny glass fragments in both the outer walls of the palace chapel and inside, leading Banaszak to believe they could be the remains of the chapel’s glass windows. The researchers have also reexamined a fragment of plaster with a partially preserved painting discovered a few years ago at the northern wall of the palace chapel in a layer estimated to be from the second half of the 11th/12th century.

The research was carried out as part of the grant 'Ostrów Lednicki - the palas of Mieszko I and Bolesław the Brave. Chronology and context', awarded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.