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Archaeologists Uncover Pre-Medieval Celtic Ritual Lake Site in Poland!

Archaeologists Uncover Pre-Medieval Celtic Ritual Lake Site in Poland!

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Archaeologists have uncovered the first-ever Celtic ritual lake site in Poland, a “revolutionary” discovery that dates back to the 3rd century BC. This find has been so termed as it has prompted a reevaluation of Celtic history in the geographical region of contemporary Poland. Underwater archaeologists made this discovery while conducting research in the historic Kuyavia region of north-central Poland. In one of the lakes they investigated, they found a variety of items, including sickles, fragments of sword sheaths, and chain belts for hanging weapons. 


Celts: Ritual Offerings in Water Bodies 

Experts note that this find is characteristic of Celtic ritual sites, where items like weapons and tools were offered to deities in rivers, lakes, bogs, and other remote locations such as mountains. Previously, it was believed that Celtic settlements in what is now Poland only reached the Kuyavia region in the 1st century BC. 

 Archaeologists found pieces of a sword sheath in the lake.

Archaeologists found pieces of a sword sheath in the lake.  (Faculty of Archaeology, University of Warsaw) 

“The Celts were famous for the fact that in the waters of – rivers, lakes, swamps – rock chasms or hard-to-reach places in the mountains they offered deities weapons and blacksmith, carpentry and kitchen tools. Our discovery is part of a set of such sacrifice finds. This is the first ritual lake position of the Celts in today's Poland. The discovery is also revolutionary because no one expected the Celts so far north already in the third century BC, because the finds are dated,” Prof. Bartosz Kontny, dean of the Faculty of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, head of the Department of Underwater Archaeology, was quoted in a press release. 

This discovery was sparked by the uncovering of a third-century BC Celtic sword, now housed in the Land Forces Museum in Bydgoszcz. Researchers traced the origins of the sword to a specific lake, leading to the subsequent underwater excavation. 

“Firstly, it confirms the deposition of larger sacrificial deposits in Polish waters by the Celts – until now, only single Celtic swords found in rivers were known, mainly associated with the Przeworsk culture,” added Professor Kontny in an interview with PAP. “This phenomenon is known in the broader Celtic areas, but there are only a few confirmed sites of this kind. The discovery is also revolutionary because no one expected the Celts this far north back in the third century BC.”  

The artifacts found in Kuyavia align with the known practices of the Celts, who were famous for offering weapons, blacksmithing tools, carpenter tools, and kitchen tools to their gods. 

Fragment of a chain belt. 

Fragment of a chain belt. (Faculty of Archaeology, University of Warsaw) 

Researchers have intentionally not disclosed the exact location of the find site to ensure its protection. Further archaeological work is planned at the site where the artifacts were found. The precise location will likely be revealed only after the research is completed, which is scheduled for autumn this year. 

The Celts: An Indo-European People Who Traversed as far as Poland! 

The Celts, an Indo-European people, are known for their widespread distribution across the continent, reaching as far as the British Isles, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Carpathian Basin. Their movement into present-day Poland is part of this larger pattern of dispersion, typically occurring between the 4th and 1st centuries BC, reports Notes from Poland. 

The initial migration of the Celts into the Polish territories is believed to have taken place into the southern and southwestern regions. This movement was part of a broader expansion that saw the Celts moving eastward and northward. Archaeological evidence, such as settlements, cemeteries, and artifacts, suggests that they established communities in areas including Silesia and Lesser Poland. These regions provided fertile land and strategic positions along trade routes, facilitating both settlement and cultural exchange. 

Celtic influence in Poland is particularly evident through various archaeological finds. These include distinct pottery styles, metalwork, and weaponry that align with typical Celtic craftsmanship. The Celts also introduced new agricultural techniques and contributed to the development of local metallurgy. Their presence in the region also facilitated trade and interaction with other contemporary cultures, such as the Germanic and Baltic tribes, as well as the Scythians to the east. 

The recent discovery of a third-century BC Celtic ritual lake site in the Kuyavia region of north-central Poland has significantly altered previous assumptions about the extent and timeline of Celtic presence in Poland. Until this discovery, it was generally believed that Celtic influence in Kuyavia did not occur until the first century BC. The ritual site, characterized by offerings such as sickles, sword sheaths, and chain belts, has highlighted the importance of religious practices in Celtic society.  

Top image: Archaeologists have discovered Poland's first known Celtic ritual lake site and artifacts, dating to the 3rd century BC. Source: University of Warsaw 


Pyka, A. 2024. Archaeologists discover Poland’s first Celtic ritual lake site. Available at: 

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I am a graduate of History from the University of Delhi, and a graduate of Law, from Jindal University, Sonepat. During my study of history, I developed a great interest in post-colonial studies, with a focus on Latin America. I... Read More

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