A Stunningly Well-Preserved 600-Year-Old Gauntlet Is Found in Switzerland


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A medieval knight returns to a Swiss castle after a victorious battle. With a hearty whoop he tosses aside his prized gauntlets at the blacksmith shop. As he rushes off to a celebratory feast, they sit out of sight in a dark corner. Not too long after, a fire breaks out, the shop is destroyed and the gauntlets are lost for more than 600 years.

OK, so maybe it didn’t happen that way. But maybe it did. When an astonishingly well preserved piece of armor from so long ago is rediscovered, it’s hard not to speculate a little romantically about its origins.

Demolition work near Kyburg Castle, northeast of Zurich, threatened a site that was known to be the location of a medieval town. So a rescue excavation was carried out in the winter of 2021 and early 2022. “We knew that all the archaeological remains in the ground would be destroyed during this construction work,” said Lorena Burkhardt, the excavation leader.

Excavators unearthed a weaving cellar that had burned down in the 14th century. Much of what was found was prosaic: a hammer, tongs, tweezers, keys. But it was enough to indicate that blacksmith work had also been done in the area.

And then there was the big find. A nearly complete right-handed iron glove from the 14th century, as well as some pieces from a left-handed one. Nearly every other gauntlet found over the years has been from a later period, according to Zurich Cantonal Archaeology, the body of experts employed by the local government, who announced the find this month. And while a few from the 14th century have turned up in Switzerland, “none of these pieces is anywhere near as well preserved and shows as many details of design and decoration as the Kyburg gauntlet,” the group said.

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A Stunningly Well-Preserved 600-Year-Old Gauntlet Is Found in Switzerland

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