Fire striker from the grave from the 3rd courtyard of Prague Castle

In the Third courtyard of Prague Castle, the warrior’s mound was discovered in 1928, located 50 cm below the surface. The pit measuring 292 × 154 × 78 cm was equipped with oak wood lining and a lid made of soft wood (Borkovský 1969: 136-7; Sláma 1977: 105). At the feett of the skeleton, there was a small bucket, at the right foot there was a sword and a battle axe. Two knives and a leather pouch with striker, flintstone and razor were found on the left side. The dating of the grave points to the second half of the 9th or 1st half of the 10th century (Hošek – Košta – Žákovský 2019: 218).

The heavily corroded striker, which was destroyed along with the documentation during the 2002 floods, was approximately triangular in shape with a straight base and thin arms decorated with trilobal protrusions with holes located in each lobe. It is the decoration that makes the striker unique and we have no analogies to it; the absence of domestic analogies sometimes results in searching of the Nordic origin (Borkovský 1946: 126; Beranová – Lutovský 2009: 177; Krumphanzlová 1974: 73-4). The total length was 9.7 cm, the width in the middle 3.8 cm, the width at the ends 2.5 cm and the thickness 0.5-0.8 cm (Borkovský 1946: 126; Sláma 1977: 105). According to Borkovský, who was the first to publish the dimensions, a photo and an approximate reconstruction, the inner openings were separated (Borkovský 1946: 126, Fig. 3.4, Fig. 4).

Borkovský 1946: Obr. 3.4, Obr. 4.

Sláma přebírá text a podobu rekonstrukce od Borkovského, ale zobrazuje kresbu zrcadlově obráceně a připojuje vlastní nákres předmětu (Sláma 1977: 105, Abb. 25.1). V rekonstrukci dochází k jediné drobné korekci, a sice že mezi trojlaločnými výstupky na vrcholu je užší mezera.

Sláma takes over the text and the form of the reconstruction from Borkovský, but depicts the drawing in a mirror-inverted way and attaches his own drawing of the object (Sláma 1977: 105, Abb. 25.1). The only minor correction in the reconstruction is that there is a narrower gap between the three-lobed protrusions at the top.

Sláma 1977: Abb. 25.1.

Beranová and Lutovský publish a completely different version of the reconstruction, on which the protrusions no longer have a three-lobed shape and the inner openings are connected into one (Beranová – Lutovský 2009: 177, Fig. 168.9).

Beranová – Lutovský 2009: Obr. 168.9.

The last mentioned version was used for the experimental creation of a striker, which was selflessly created by the Slovak blacksmith Dávid Kuzmiak. Due to the manual filing of holes and edges, production proved to be a laborious affair.

A version created by Dávid Kuzmiak based on a drawing by Beranová and Lutovský.

When the striker made in this way was presented to Jiří Košta, the curator of the collections of the National Museum of Prague, who have studied the grave in the past, Mr. Košta stated that the presented drawing is certainly not correct and that the object originally corresponded to other local shapes of strikers (Krumphanzlová 1974: 73-4) – ie the arms were not completely closed – yet, unlike other pieces, it was decorated. Such a solution made sense mainly because the laborious filing of internal holes would be eliminated and the striker would fit into the local typology much better. Therefore, there is no need to look for the origin of this product abroad, as has been done in the past. In any case, the production had to be laborious and, in the end, it is the most decorative striker known from early medieval Bohemia.


Design suggested by Jiří Košta, artistically redrawn by Michal Havelka, baba_jaga_atelier.


I hope you liked reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon or Paypal.


Bibliography

Beranová, Magdalena – Lutovský, Michal (2009). Slované v Čechách. Archeologie 6.-12. století, Praha.

Borkovský, Ivan (1946). Hrob bojovníka z doby knížecí na Pražském hradě. In: Památky archeologické 42, 122-131.

Borkovský, Ivan (1969). Pražský hrad v době přemyslovských knížat, Praha.

Hošek, Jiří – Košta, Jiří – Žákovský, Petr (2019). Ninth to mid-sixteenth century swords from the Czech Republic in their European context, Praha – Brno.

Krumphanzlová, Zdenka (1974). Chronologie pohřebního inventáře vesnických hřbitovů 9.–11. věku v Čechách. In: Památky archeologické 35, 34–110.

Sláma, Jiří (1977). Mittelböhmen im frühen Mittelalter. I. Katalog der Grabfunde, Praha.

13. dubna 2021

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