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This tombstone consists of two elements and was found during excavation works carried out under the guidance of Stanisław Kozieł and Mieczysław Fraś in the area of the southern wing of building 5 of Wawel in the years 1966–75. The tombstone used to cover a tomb located in the area of the western apse of the double-apse rotunda relics, called church B” by the researchers.

 

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This tombstone consists of two elements and was found during excavation works carried out under the guidance of Stanisław Kozieł and Mieczysław Fraś in the area of the southern wing of building 5 of Wawel in the years 1966–75. The upper element of the tombstone was taken from the excavation and handed over to the Lapidarium Department. In 1991, it underwent restoration and was displayed in the Lost Wawel exhibition. The bottom part was excavated in 1993. Both elements were joined during restoration works and were then again displayed in the exhibition. The tombstone used to cover a tomb located in the area of the western apse of the double-apse rotunda relics, called church B” by the researchers.
The stone takes the form of a cuboid block of sandstone. There is an engraving on the upper surface depicting a cross with extended arms within a circle, together with a semicircular base with a long shaft. Aside from the engraving, there are numerous chiselled cuts on the upper surface of the stone, turning slightly obliquely towards the longitudinal axis, creating a texture on the surface of the block. The tombstone used to cover a burial chamber with a size of 200 x 60 cm and a depth of 60 cm. Its walls were covered with sandstone blocks 18 to 23 cm high, which bear traces of a herringbone pattern. There was a female skeleton inside the tomb. Both the tomb location under the matroneum as well as its grandiose tombstone indicate that the person buried in the tomb came from the social elite of the time. As there is no sepulchral equipment (the tomb discoverer claims it was stolen), it is difficult to date the tomb and the tombstone precisely. The monument's dating is based on the age of the rotunda. The depiction on the stone presenting the cross within the rim placed on the shaft was interpreted by the discoverers as symbolising the tree of life” (Arbor Vitae). A different interpretation was suggested by Helena Zoll-Adamikowa, recognising the engraving as a depiction of a procession cross, and this interpretation was accepted by Zbigniew Pianowski. The meaning of the engraving has not been unambiguously settled on yet. The collections of tombstones with the depiction of the cross within the rim placed on the shaft” (from Europe, including several from Polish lands) are quite numerous, but all of them are of a later date.

Elaborated by Beata Kwiatkowska-Kopka, PhD (Wawel Royal Castle), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

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A tombstone with the image of a “tree of life” from the double-apse rotunda – the so-called “church B” in Wawel

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