Explorations in and around the Templar Church in Chwarszczany, Poland

OKM gladly followed the invitation of the history and culture association S.H.K. “Tempelburg” and joined a meeting with the magazine Odkrywca, the magazine Relikte der Geschichte as well as the treasure hunters of the youtube-channel Sondelsüchtig. As metal detector manufacturer from Germany, OKM was able to support future archaeological projects within the project “Chwarszczany” (Słowianie Templariusze Projekt) with soil measurements. Read more about the previous excavations by the expert Dr. Przemysław Kołosowski and what was detected and found during the current exploration.

Templar chapel in Chwarszczany: South side of the Templar chapel with view from above on the already excavated foundations and the current excavation site.
Templar church project: Team of archaeologists together with the press and OKM in front of the excavation site in Chwarszczany, Poland.

Headquarters of the Knights Templar in the Oder region in the 13th century

The impressive early gothic building with its two narrow towers stands out from afar. At first the towers appear to be of defensive function of a castle, in fact they are supporting pillars of the Templar Church.

The church is located in the village Chwarszczany at the river Mysla in West Pomerania, Poland. It was built on the foundations of earlier settlements and was the administrative centre (Commandery) of the Templars, serving as the headquarters for meetings, probably also as a storage place for relics and treasures. In addition to the chapel, further utility and residential buildings belonged to the estate.

Templar chapel and property in Chwarszczany: Overview of the site with view of fountain (front right) and current excavation site (centre).

After the dissolution of the Order of the Templars, the property was handed over to the Order of Saint John in 1318. They not only redesigned the interior of the church, but also added parts of the building around the chapel. One of the foundations was uncovered during archaeological excavations in 2004.

The eventful history of the chapel continues to tell of the conflicts of the Order of Saint John with the Teutonic Order, from which the property was taken in the 15th century. After the relocation of the Johanniter seat in 1540, the chapel became a Protestant church. Since 1945, the chapel is Roman Catholic church.

Current and future archaeological projects

Excavations inside and outside of the Templars Church

Excavations have been taking place in and around the chapel since 2004. The team of historians and archaeologists is researching the architecture of the chapel in order to further reconstruct its original functions.

Ground measurement with eXp 6000: With the 3D ground scanner, old foundations and underground cavities such as vaults and graves can be detected.
Current excavation site: Excavation of old walls (distillery in the 18th century, farming in the 13th to 15th centuries) and objects from earlier settlements (Bronze Age).

References to earlier settlements such as pottery, iron nails and other archaeological finds dating from the Bronze Age and the Middle Ages have already been found. Old wall remains have also been uncovered, other structures are still hidden, but have been detected with ground scanners by OKM.

Current archaeological excavation: The 5 x 5 m area will be excavated to a depth of approx. 2 m.
Finds of current excavation site: Artefacts such as pottery fragments and tool parts indicate earlier settlement (Bronze Age) and trade (Roman Empire).
Finds of current excavation site: Pottery fragments can be classified into epochs based on the thickness of the material, the tools used for processing and the structures and patterns incorporated.

Search for tunnel between Templar chapel and fountain

Ground scan with Gepard GPR: The Gepard GPR supports archaeologists in their search for tunnels between the Templar church and the neighboring well.
Ground measurement with ground radar: With the Gepard GPR tunnels between Templar church and the neighbouring well can be detected.

With the ground radar Gepard GPR and the 3D ground scanner Rover C4 measurements were carried out on the south side of the Templar chapel. Anomalies between the neighboring well and the remains of the foundations next to the church were localized by both devices and thus confirmed first speculations.

Screenshot of GPR Measurement Data
2D scan results of GPR ground scan: First ground scan to determine the position of the suspected tunnel
Screenshot of GPR Measurement Data
2D scan with GPR: Second ground scan to validate the first scan data

Gepard GPR scan images show significant anomalies at a depth of about 3.7 to 6 m in loamy and sandy soil (circle). The diagonal lines (below circle) are reflections of the church. The Ground Radar technology also records such influences of buildings.

With the Rover C4 various measurements were performed. The ground scanner was used with the 100 cm vertical Super Sensor. The evaluation of the data took place via tablet PC and software “Visualizer 3D”. The Rover C4 measurements next to the church also determine a possible non-metallic anomaly in the measured area.

Screenshot of Rover C4 Measurement Data
Scan with Rover C4: Short measurement next to the church with a length of approx. 20m.
Screenshot of Rover C4 Measurement Data
Scan with Rover C4: Longer measurement with further measuring points (signals) and a length of approx. 35m.

A livescan with the magnetometer mode of the Rover C4 marked the extent of the reinforced concrete construction at the well. This concrete structure is larger than the entrance, which was secured with concrete slabs, implies.

Further measurements and investigations will show whether the cavity is an underground passage or even an escape tunnel.

Search for crypt and grave of the Grand Master

Under the church, an underground cavity such as a crypt or a tomb is also suspected. This assumption has been confirmed with the Rover C4: With its function as pin pointer with LED orbit, conspicuities were displayed directly and inspired the team of archaeologists.

Ground scan in Templar church in Chwarszczany: In its function as a pin pointer with LED orbit, cavities such as an underground crypt or tunnel passages can be detected and signaled directly.
Immediate measurement results: The recorded measurement data visualizes the detected anomaly on the laptop screen.

The excavations inside the church were continued in late summer. The team of archaeologists uncovered various floor structures in the corridor and in the sanctuary: the old underfloor heating and vaulted corridors, which, however, cannot be dated back to Templar times.

Photo of excavation site
Searching for vaults and a crypt: Beginning excavations in the altar area of the Templer church
(C) S.H.K. „Tempelburg“
Photo of excavation site
Exposed underground structures: The first excavations reveal the underfloor heating.
(C) S.H.K. „Tempelburg“
Photo of excavation site
Exposed vault under the altar: The exposed underground structures are more recent than expected.
(C) S.H.K. „Tempelburg“
Photo of excavation site
Searching for a Templar crypt: Continued excavations in the altar area of the Templer church
(C) S.H.K. „Tempelburg“

It still has to be examined, whether the presumed old vaults were built over or even lie lower. A burial chamber or even a treasure chamber has not yet been discovered. OKM will report as soon as there are news and findings by the Templar church.


S.H.K. „Tempelburg“

The historical and cultural association S.H.K. Stowarzyszenie Historyczno Kulturalne “Tempelburg” is an organization to preserve, care and protect Polish cultural heritage, national traditions as well as cultural consciousness. The team of professional archaeologists and amateur historians share a common passion for exploration and history.
tempelburg.pl

Specialist Dr. Przemysław Kołosowski

Dr. Przemysław Kołosowski is an archaeologist and author of articles on the history of the Templars in Poland. Together with his team he offers archaeological services such as supervision and management of excavations.
nadzorarcheo.pl