800-Year-Old Toy Horse Found During Excavations Of A Polish Firehouse

Published March 4, 2024

Archaeologists excavating a firehouse in Toruń, Poland uncovered a treasure trove of medieval artifacts, including an 800-year-old clay horse and remnants of a tower.

Polish Firehouse Excavation

Provincial Headquarters of the State Fire Service in ToruńWorkers excavate the grounds of an old firehouse in Toruń, Poland.

In late 2023, archaeologists were called to excavate an old firehouse in Toruń, Poland, ahead of construction of a new firehouse at the site. There, researchers unearthed a treasure trove of medieval artifacts — including an 800-year-old clay toy horse.

Now, researchers say this astonishing discovery offers new insights into life in 12th and 13th-century Poland.

Uncovering The Medieval Artifacts

Clay Horse

Provincial Headquarters of the State Fire Service in ToruńArchaeologists uncovered this 800-year-old toy horse during the excavation.

Given that the town of Toruń is a UNESCO Heritage Site, the Provincial Headquarters of the State Fire Service called for archaeologists to research the area in December 2023 before construction on the new firehouse begins.

Within two months, researchers had unearthed dozens of artifacts: vessel fragments, an amber ring, a bone knife sheath, and a tsar’s buckle. On the last day of the excavation, archaeologists discovered the most peculiar relic: a small horse figurine, “several centimeters” in length.

“It is probably a toy or a puppet (due to the hole underneath, to be stuck on a stick), it is made of clay, covered with glaze, and may come from the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries,” Małgorzata Jarocka-Krzemkowska, spokeswoman for the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Fire Department, stated in a press release.

Alongside this figurine, researchers identified the foundations of a medieval tower, the retaining wall of a moat, remnants of wooden buildings, and a bronze-melting fireplace.

The wall is partially covered in glazed green spots — evidence of repairs made to the wall after it was damaged by shelling. Within the wall, researchers also located several drain holes that were likely part of a rainwater and sewer system.

“We already know that the medieval retaining wall near the moat was surrounded by a 19th-century brick facing. The added layer is significantly different from the rest,” Jarocka-Krzemkowska stated. “In the wall, there are regularly visible drain holes spaced every few meters. When measuring their location in relation to the stone level, the original city wall, reveals that they are probably an element of the sewage and rainwater system.”

Prior to these discoveries, very little was known about the city’s history before the 13th and 14th centuries. Researchers are hopeful that an in-depth study of the firehouse artifacts will shed new light on the everyday lives of Toruń’s 12th-century inhabitants.

The Future Of The Toruń Firehouse Artifacts

Polish Firehouse Belt Buckle

Provincial Headquarters of the State Fire Service in ToruńResearchers discovered a decorated belt buckle amongst the rubble.

Researchers are planning to announce more information about the artifacts in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, plans to build the new firehouse are still underway. The firefighters who will call the building home hope to incorporate elements of Toruń’s medieval history in the new structure.

According to the press release, the firefighters have asked the city to incorporate the medieval building foundations into the architectural design of the new firehouse. They also hope that some of the artifacts might be put on display within the building as a visual reminder of the city’s rich history.

After reading about the discovery of the 800-year-old clay horse, discover 37 facts about life in the Middle Ages. Then, dive into 9 of the most fascinating archaeological finds of 2023.

Amber Breese
Amber Breese is an Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
Cite This Article
Breese, Amber. "800-Year-Old Toy Horse Found During Excavations Of A Polish Firehouse." AllThatsInteresting.com, March 4, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/toy-horse-torun. Accessed April 20, 2024.