A medieval knight returns to a Swiss castle after a victorious battle.
With a loud shout, he throws his precious gloves into the smithy.
As he rushes to a banquet, the gauntlets remain hidden in a dark corner.
Shortly afterward a fire breaks out, the blacksmith shop is destroyed and the gloves are lost during more than 600 years.
Well, maybe it didn't happen that way.
When rediscover an armor astonishingly well preserved from so long ago, it is difficult not to speculate a little romantically about its origins.
An almost complete 14th century right-handed iron gauntlet was found, as well as some pieces of a left-handed one. Photo Martin Bachmann/Construction Department of the Canton of Zurich
Demolition works near Kyburg Castle, northeast of Zurich, They threatened a site where it was known that there was a medieval city.
So in the winter of 2021 and early 2022 a rescue excavation.
“We knew that all the archaeological remains on the ground would be destroyed during these works,” explains Lorena Burkhardt, responsible for the excavation.
Excavators unearthed a weaving cellar that had burned in the 14th century.
Much of what was found was prosaic: a hammer, pliers, pliers, keys.
But it was enough to indicate that there had also been carried out in the area blacksmith work.
And then there was the big find.
An iron glove almost complete for right-handers from the 14th century, as well as some pieces from one for left-handed.
A 14th-century gauntlet found near Kyburg Castle, Switzerland, is much better preserved than other similar artifacts found in the country. Photo Martin Bachmann/Construction Department of the Canton of Zurich
According to Zurich Cantonal Archaeology, the expert body hired by the local government, which announced the find in January, almost all of the gloves found over the years were from a later period.
And although some pieces from the 14th century have appeared in Switzerland, “none of them are anywhere near as well preserved and show so many design and decoration details like the Kyburg Gauntlet,” the group says.
The glove was likely worn by a medieval soldier or knight, but so far it is unclear who wore it and for what purpose.
“We know of tombstones of 14th-century knights who wore similar gloves,” Burkhardt said.
“Ultimately, however, we cannot say whether the gloves were actually made for a knight or for someone else who needed to equip themselves for war.”
But there are signs that point to the high status of its wearer.
“What is certain is that the gloves were manufactured to a high level of quality, and the purchase of such pieces of armor was correspondingly expensive,” Burkhardt said.
“Therefore, it is likely that the gloves were intended for a nobleman or another high-ranking person.”
The fingers of the glove They fold into four parts to allow movement; The iron plates are overlapped and joined with rivets.
The material inside the glove It would be leather or fabric.
“It is also striking how well preserved the piece is,” says Burkhardt.
“Apart from a break, all the iron components of the right hand are completely preserved”.
“The fact that we found the glove plates along with these other objects indicates that the piece of armor was made in the blacksmith shop,” Burkhardt said.
“It is also possible that it was in the workshop to be repaired, although we have not yet been able to detect obvious damage or signs of repair.”
The glove will be on display at Kyburg Castle for three weeks in September.
“We are only at the beginning of the investigation of the object,” Burkhardt said.
Even when such an exceptional find is made, not all historical questions are answered.
Conjectures and sometimes legends are used to fill in the gaps.
The most famous Swiss gentleman of the time was Heinrich von Winkelried.
Although records show that a knight of that name existed, the story that he killed a dragon single-handedly with a spear is, of course, false.
And surely the recently found glove did not belong to him.
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