Figure 1

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Figure 8

Photo 1

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Photo 14

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ISBN 973-7951-59-X, Editura Nereamia Napocae – Cristian Matos, Hunedoara 2004

Volum îngrijit de: Cristian C. Roman, Dragoş Diaconescu, Nicolae Cerişer


Prelucrare Web: Cosmin Suciu; Powered by: Institutul pentru Cercetarea Patrimoniului Cultural Transilvanean în Context European (IPTCE)







The sacristy is placed in the north part of the chapel of the castle. It has a trapezoidal shape and a size of 2.90 m x 5.32 m x 4 m x 5.04 m (Fig. 1 a). The first interventions in this sector were included in the program of the conservation and restoration of the monument [2] and they revealed a relatively well preserved wooden floor that overlapped a level of river sand of fine granulation (35 cm thick). When this level was freed on the eastern side of the room, by the window, we found a socle build with bricks and stones bounded with mortar. It was interpreted as a pedestal for a statue.

Two cassettes were marked (Fig. 1 b), the first one on the northern side and the second one on the southeastern side of the sacristy. Their position aimed the stratigraphic evolution, the foundation level, the research of possible structures, as well as observations on the parament of this sector. The level 0 of the excavation was the superior part of the brick floor that was identified.

The most complete stratigraphic sequence was obtained on the transversal axis of the sacristy by cassette C 1/ 2002 (Fig. 1 b) [3] with the following sizes: 2.90 m x 3.34 m x 2. 38 m x 2.40 m. The succession of the archaeological deposits is the following:

- brick floor (with standard sizes: length=30 cm, breadth=15 cm, thikness=6 cm), arranged as parquet, in a pointed angle (in the south-western corner) or in a right angle (on the rest of the surface) (Fig. 2 a). The floor was found almost complete, with the exception of the northwestern, southwestern and southeastern corners were there probably where fire installations. This floor is very well preserved and it is laid on a thin lens that consists of mortar and small fragments of dolomite limestone. The central part of the brick floor is slightly settled. The bricks on the sides of the excavated surface are supported by thicker mortar lenses. In the northern part of the room the superior part of the floor is less worn out, no traces of secondary burn being discovered.

- level of light brown, dusty, with small and medium size fragments of stone, ceramic pieces (fig. 6/1-8), complete or fragments of bricks, stone balls (fig. 8/7, 8), fragments of glass windows (fig. 8/5, 6), bone remains, bone artifacts and fragments of metallic inventory. The last category comes in high quantities as compared to the other archaeological artifacts (level I).

Many ceramic fragments (tiles-fig. 7/1-4) and a lens with ash and coal were uncovered on the western side of C 1 (the area without the brick floor), immediately after the clearing of the mentioned sand level. This archaeological context is connected with a destroyed fire installation. After the observations on the parament considering the possible fire installations, it was observed that on the southern side of the sacristy (on the right side of the entrance) there was an orifice (for smoke evacuation), of circular shape, with a diameter of 15 cm [4] .

The first level was identified both in C 1 and in C 2. In this level a brick channel was uncovered; it is approximately parallel to the northern wall of the sacristy. This construction is formed of two parallel rows of bricks tied with mortar; at the eastern end it has a sewer aperture formed of three rows of overlaid bricks.

While on the superior part of the gutter there is a consistent mortar lens and at the same level some spots of burn and leftovers of duff. On the bottom of the gutter existed a very thin level of mortar (about 1.5 cm). On the southern side of the gutter the constructed segment is discontinuous. This gutter was breaking through the eastern side (the evacuation was most likely done in the Bear Pit, thing that would explain the presence here of some special materials [5] ) and the western side (which communicates inside the jewelery room) of the sacristy. The bottom of the gutter has an inclination of about 10ş, this angle being sufficient for o good drainage of the water [6] .

During the excavations no different densities were observed in the filling of this level. Toward the base of the level (-0.40 m) the blocks of dolomite limestone were bigger than the ones seen up to that point. At the base of this level of filling a denar from Mathias II (1608-1619) [7] was discovered.

- treading level (level 2), compact, clayey, identified at – 0.45 m on the entire excavated surface. This level is cut trough the brick gutter that crossed transversal over the sacristy. This level overlays a dense mortar lens, 6 cm thick. When the treading level (up to 4 cm thick) was dismantled the archaeologists found a denar from Wladislav I (1440-1444) [8] few prehistoric sherds (fig. 5/1) and a fragmentary piece made of gritstone (fig. 5/3).

- a brown with reddish shades, sandy level (level 3) (- 0, 55 – 0, 75 m) has toward the base blocks of stones of relative big size, numerous animal bones and a small number of ceramic (fig. 5/4, 5), metal (fig. 8/3; photo 14) and bone (fig. 8/1; photo 16) fragments. In this level the archaeologists discovered two coins, one from Wladislav I; the other one could not be identified because of objective reasons [9] .

- a black, compact, with clay level (level 4) (-0, 75 – 0, 90 m). This level also holds a coin [10] as well as ceramic fragments (fig. 5/6, 7; fig. 4/1-7).

- level with a sandy structure, brown (with no density) found at the depths of 0.90 m and 1.10 m (level 5) separated by the precedent level by a 3-4 cm thik mortar lens, well preserved. This level has sherds (fig. 4/8-10) and a silver piece (fig. 8/4; photo 15).

- level of filling, with big fragments of dolomite limestone, no mortar and with rare archaeological artifacts (level 6); it’s purpose is the primary leveling of the sacristy.


Description of the artifacts


The monetary discoveries in the sacristy were published in a previous study [11] and the authors do not wish to refer to these coins, unless they can bring some clarifications about the dating of the stratigraphic levels [12] . We must point though that from the five coins that were found, two of them were emitted by Wladislav I (1440-1444), one by Mathias II (1608-1619) and the other two, which were not identified by the authors, belong to a period from the second decade to the end of the XVth century [13] . The fact that most of the coins belong to a relatively short period of time allow the authors to assume that the sacristy was functioning during the XVth century; by the beginning of the XVIth century the sacristy is not functioning any more, probably due to the works done here wile the castle belonged to Mattia Corvin; the sacristy is again functional at the begining of the XVIIth century, very likely connected to the intense works of construction and reconstruction done in the castle during Gabriel Bethlen.

The metal artifacts represent most of the discoveries made during the excavations in the sacristy. Mostly, it is about nails, spikes (see photo 2/1-5, 12-14; 5/2-6; 6/3; 7/9) and rivets (?) (photo 7/10) -strongly corroded- and numerous harquebus and small fortress cannon balls (photo 1; 2/8-11; 3; 4; 7/2-4, 7, 12-15; 8-12). We also found a fragmentary knife blade 8.8 centimeters long (photo 5/1), with rounded top and a lartge peice whose functionality we can only suppose, since it wasn’t cleaned (photo 6/1) [14] . Most of these materials were discovered in C1/ 2001 in the leveling layer under the floor (level 6). Taking into account the coin in level 5 we can say that these artifacts belong to the middle of the XVIIth century.

The glass pieces were identified only in level 1 and they represent fragments of windows, made of an opaque paste, with brownish nuances, diametres of 11.5 (fig. 8/5) and 13.4 centimeters (fig. 8/6) and thickness of 1-1.2 millimetres; both pieces have traces of secundary burn. The frame of these pieces is done by bendind the edges; on the first piece there are some slight waves because of the make. No traces of transom were found. The pieces from the sacristy of the chapel have analogies in the XVth-XVIth centuries [15] ; they are part of the series of glass objects found in the castle („venetian glasses”, fragments of glass objects), mentioned in the XIXth century and recently reevaluated [16] , in a study dedicated to this chpater of material culture.

Inside the same level the authors discovered some stone balls, of different sizes,  used for the small fortress cannons (fig. 8/7, 8). 

Some of the most interesting pieces are a few bronze artifacts: a hairpin (?) (fig. 8/3; photo 14) and a silver bead (fig. 8/4; photo 15) that probably belongs to a string of beads or to an ornament of a cloth. Although these artifacts don’t offer too much data on chronology, analyzing their stratigraphic position (in levels 3 and 5) they can be dated in the XVth century, taking into account the presence in level 3 o f a coin from Wladislav I.

A small amount of the materials are bone artifacts and they are the most representative ones for the discoveries in the sacristy (C1/2001, square 4). It is about a streak ornamented, spirally shaped hairpin (fig. 8/1; foto 16), found in level 3 thing that can date it in the XVth century and the hiets of a knife or a penknife [17] (photo 17, 18) identifeid in level 1, thing that dates them after the second half of the XVIth century. These artifacts belong to the second half of the XVIth century. Two drawings appear on both sides of the hiets: a man (photo 17) and a woman (photo 18); both of them are dressed specifically to the XVIth century. A brief analysis of the cloths reveals the fact that the oriental elements are missing; this makes the authors assume that the manufacturer of the artifact is from the western space, probably coming from an Austrian or German workshop [18] .

The artifacts that allow a closer dating, excluding the numismatic material, are the ceramic fragments. Its presence here must have a connection with the reconstructions done in the sacristy, when the ceramic appeared together with other materials used for leveling. The exceptions are four tile pots discovered in C1/2001 that are connected to the existence of a heating installation –a tile stove- that was at some point disaffected. These ceramic pieces belong to the semifine category and are brick-coloured (fig. 7/1, 2, 4) and brownish-brick-coloured (fig. 7/3) burnt rezonant, with obvious traces of soot in the inferior side. The presence of this heating installation is documented by the discovery of some traces of burn that used to be part of a stove in C2/2001 (fig.3d, fig.7/1-4). Analyzing the stratigraphic situation the authors appreciate that this heating installation functioned sometime between the middle of the XVIth century and the beginning of the XVIIth century. It was dismantled when the brick floor was built. An image of the complexity of this part of medieval studies (XVth-XVIIth centuries) is sown in the research of the complex at Vinţu de Jos [19] . Most of the ceramic fragments belong to the period between the end of the XVth century and the XVIIth century. The ceramic belonging to this time zone is the most numerous category of medieval pottery, but it is also the least analyzed and therefore known. This paradox has recently been noticed by P. L. Szöcs that made a brief analysis of the historiographyc segment of the pottery in Transilvania, in the XVIth - XVIIth centuries [20] .

   The first level in the excavation order is characterized by semifine (fig. 6/7) an fine pottery (fig. 6/1-6, 8), with the paste degresata with sand of different granulation. The colours vary between brick-coloured (fig. 6/1, 2, 4, 5, 8), brown (fig. 6/3, 7) and brownish-brik-coloured (fig. 6/6), the burn is generally good with a few exceptions with a grey core (fig. 6/2, 6, 7). The exterior surfaces are painted in waite, in thin horizontal strips, little detached (fig. 6/1, 3) or rare strips (fig. 6/2). In one case there were traces of a light brown (exterior) and greenish (interior) enamel (fig. 6/5). The forms of the vessels are bulging bodies and profiled rim.

Level 3 contains fine pottery, of brown-brik-coloured (fig. 5/4) or brownish-grey (fig. 5/5) colour, with traces of secundary burn and soot. In levels 4 and 5 we found fine pottery, of brick-coloured (fig. 4/1, 5-7), brown (fig. 4/8-10), rarely grey (fig. 5/7) with a relatively good burn ( moste of the sherds have a grey core), with good analogies in Hungary (Buda) [21] .


Some aspects about the construction of the sacristy of the chapel


Reaching the foundation in three points of the sacristy (the north-western, north-eastern and the south-eastern corners), has offered the possibility to observe the way it was built and the disparity of the moments that have other arrangements, after the assembly of the brick floor.

On the north side of the sacristy the foundation of the north-eastern corner has reached a depth of 3.30 m. The base of this segment only reaches the native rock on the western half (on 1.80 m); towards the east it is replaced by the prehistoric humus, of black-grey colour, with fragments of dolomite and lacks in pottery.

The first moment of construction is materialized in a wall segment, built with big, shaped blocks tied with mortar, with a very trim look; its height is 0.50 m in the joining with the eastern side area. This wall lowers towards the west; it is pulled with 10 cm inside the space when the second moment of building of the northern wall of the sacristy. For this moment smaller blocks of stone are used; they are poorly shaped, tied with mortar. The third and the last moment is characterized by the presence of blocks of dolomite limestone, well shaped, tied with mortar.

The eastern side of the sacristy, on the length observed archaeologically has as base the native rock, slightly irregular, covered with a thick level of humus. The blocks of dolomite limestone are well shaped; the building technique is a careful one. The western wall has two major building moments. The inferior part is built with blocks of dolomite of small and medium size, drowned in mortar, which gives it a sloppy appearance. Over this moment there is another one, catched on the northern side of the sacristy. The base of the foundation is, again, the native rock. The western wall is attached to the northern side of the sacristy.

Still on the western side could be proved that the two rock spurs that were in the area of the entrance into the jewelry room are attached. These spurs represent interventions at a later chronological horizon than the level with the brick floor. Contemporary to the rock spurs is the block of stone (gritstone?), used as a step from the chapel and the one in the area of the niche on the eastern side of the sacristy.

When the levels in C 2/ 2001 were all searched it was observed that until -0.50 m depth the eastern and the southern sides of the excavated surface are tackled with bricks that have the same sizes as the one from the floor. The entire structure is tied with mortar and it comes out in a console for about 15 cm and it corresponds from stratigraphic point of view to the light brown dusty (level 1) (level 2 in the presentation of the stratigraphic situation in C 1). While the eastern side of C2 presents identical marks to the north-eastern corner of C1, the southern side of C2 (the inferior part) is built with blocks of stone, poorly shaped, tied with mortar.  

The conclusions we can draw from the stratigraphic situation in the sacristy of the chapel are: the building of the sacristy and probably of the chapel (relative uncertainty because of the mentioned bibliographic lacks about the results of the archaeological excavations in the castle; the logic assumption is that the chapel and the sacristy were built in the same time) is contemporary to the first period of usage which coincides with the arrangement levels (the filling levels, that we noted 3, 4, 5, 6 and the treading level noted with no. 2). This first functioning period is chronologically identified by the presence of some clear dating elements (coins) in levels 2 and 3 at the beginning of the XV Th century [22] .

The second functional moment is illustrated by the arrangement of the brick floor that also exists in level 1; the floor has the remains of two fire installations, one in situ (fig. 3 d), overlaid by the floor, which places them chronologically at an anterior moment. The floor is missing on a rectangular surface on the southwestern side, thing that we consider the stamp of a fire installation that was contemporary to this second moment of function of the sacristy.

The research of the sacristy of the chapel illustrates the first functioning moments of the chapel and it’s annexes. One more time the complexity and the problem of corresponding the archaeological and historical aspects that the monument at Hunedoara imposes appear.



List of illustrations


       Figure 1:          a) General plan of the ground floor of the Corvins’ Castle, with the

position of the sacristy of the chapel inside the monument;

b) General plan of the sacristy with the placing of the

archaeological excavations and the brick sewer.

       Figure 2:          a) The brick floor of the sacristy;

                               b) C1 / 2001, ڤ3, after the dismantle of level 2;

                               c) C 1/ 2001, ڤ4, situation of level 1 on the upper side of the


       Figure 3:          a) The stratigraphic sequence on side G G’;

                               b) The stratigraphic sequence on side E I, from the upper side of

the gutter;

c) C 2 / 2001, after the dismantle of the brick floor;

d) The remains of an in situ fire installation.

e) The stratigraphic sequence on side C C’.


       Figure 4:          Sherds from C2/2001 (1,4-10 medieval pottery; 2, 3 Basarabi


       Figure 5:          Sherds from C1/2001 (1 Coţofeni sherd; 2 Basarabi sherd; 3-7

medieval pottery).

       Figure 6:          Sherds from C1/2001 (1-8 medieval pottery).

       Figure 7:          Ceramic fragments from C1/2001 (1- 4 tile pots).

       Figure 8:          Archaeological material from C1/2001 (1 bone hair pin, 2 iron

piece, 3 copper hair pin, 4 silver bead, 5-6 fragments of tiles, 7, 8

stone cannon balls).

       Photo 1:           Iron cannon ball discovered in level 1.

       Photo 2:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 3:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 4:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 5:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 6:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 7:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 8:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 9:           Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 10:         Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 11:         Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 12:         Metallic pieces (iron) discovered in level 1.       

       Photo 13:         Metallic piece (bronze) discovered in level 1.

       Photo 14:         Hair pin (?) (bronze) discovered in level 3.

       Photo 15:         Metallic piece (silver) discovered in level 5.

       Photo 16:         Hair pin (bone) discovered in level 3.

       Photo 17:         Hiet (bone) discovered in level 1.

       Photo 18:         Fragmentary hiet (bone) discovered in level 1.






ActaTS                               - Acta Terrae Septemcastrensis, Sibiu.

AMed                                 - Arheologia medievală.

BMI                                   - Buletinul Monumentelor Istorice, Bucureşti.

Ephem. Nap.                      - Ephemeris Napocensis. Institutul de Arheologie şi Istoria

Artei, Cluj- Napoca.


List of bibliographic abbreviations


Anghel                          1986    Gheorghe Anghel, Fortificaţii medievale de piatră

din secolele XIII-XVI, Cluj-Napoca (1986).

Bogdan                        1970    Alexandru Bogdan, Contribuţii arheologice la

cunoaşterea evoluţiei Castelului Corvineştilor de la

Hunedoara, în BMI, an XXXIX, nr. 2 (1970), 18- 25.

László                          1966    Gerevich László,  A budai vár feltárása, Budapesta,1966.

Lupescu                       2003    Radu Lupescu, Domeniul cetăţii Hunedoara în timpul

Hunedorenilor, în MedTrans, tom V-VI, 2001-2002, nr. 1-2, 7-34.

Möller                          1913    István Möller, A Vajda-Hunyadi vár építési korai, Budapest



Diaconescu-Gonciar     2002    Silviu Istrate Purece, Cristian C. Roman, Dragoş

Diaconescu, Andrei Gonciar, Descoperiri monetare pe şantierul de la Hunedoara, punctele „Sacristia capelei” şi „Grădina Castelului”. Campania 2001, în ActaTS, I, 2002, 165-170.

Rusu                   1995    Adrian Andrei Rusu, Sticlăria medievală din

Transilvania. Repere generale şi documente arheologice, în Ephem. Nap., V (1995), 301-330.

1997        Ctitori şi biserici din Ţara Haţegului până la 1700, Satu

 Mare (1997). 

1998    Gotic şi Renaştere la Vinţu de Jos /Gotik und Renaissance im unter-Winz, Cluj-Napoca-Satu Mare, 1998.

Szöcs                           2000    Péter Levente Szöcs, Probleme privind datarea şi

cronologia ceramicii din secolele XVI-XVII din Transilvania, în: AMed, III (2000), 5-10.






[1] The salvation excavation is part of the restoration project of the medieval monument from Hunedoara. The excavation started in 2001 because of objective reasons and was finished in February-March 2002 and it was approved by the Ministry of Culture and Cults by authorization no. 140/2002.  

* Muzeul «Castelul Corvineştilor», Str. Curtea Corvineştilor nr. 1-3, cod 331141, Hunedoara, jud. Hunedoara; Universitatea „Lucian Blaga”, Facultatea de Istorie şi Patrimoniu „Nicolae Lupu”, Sibiu, B-dul Victoriei, nr. 4-7, Sibiu.

[2] The purpose of this salvation excavation was the elboration of a thorough documentation (plans, stratigraphic profiles, site diary), the future completion being part of the medieval specializations (pottery, numismatics, the history of costume etc.). The information in the bibliography about the researches done in the chapel and the Bear Pit are extremely summary; unfortunately no excavation report of this sectors has been published, this being a strong inconvenient in understanding the evolution of the chapel and it’s annexes (including the sacristy) during the XV-XVII centuries (Bogdan 1970, 19, note 3)

[3] This cassette has our coordinates E, F, H, I (plan 1, fig. b).

[4] Observations on the parament or other constructive details are at this point hard to make because the walls were covered with mortar, solution that was approved and executed by the restoration program in 2000.

[5] See note 15 in the present article.

[6] Recent archaeological research (2000) in the jewelry room, have pointed out the fact that in the north-eastern corner of the room could exist minimal arrangements with blocks of dolomite limestone, that were laid straight on the native rock that covered at the beginning of the research most of this perimeter. Besides, on the eastern side of the jewelry room insignificant differences of work were observed at an approximate height of 0.70 m. This observation will bare importance when some stratigraphic observations in the sacristy of the chapel will be made.   

[7] Purece-Roman-Diaconescu-Gonciar 2002, p. 166, pl. I/3.

[8] Ibidem, 165, pl. I/2.

[9] Ibidem, 165, 166, pl.I/1,5.

[10] Ibidem, 166, pl. I/4.

[11] Purece-Roman-Diaconescu-Gonciar 2002, 165-170.

[12] Still, some correction should be made about the inconsistency to which Mathias II is named (see p. 166, 167) and in the same time his Hungarian affiliation (sic!).

[13] Purece-Roman-Diaconescu-Gonciar 2002, 166-167.

[14] The metallic inventory was not submitted to conservation and restoration, aspect the prevents us from describing it.

[15] Rusu 1995, 324, fig. 6a, b.

[16] Ibidem, 309-310.

[17] A fragmentary piece made of bone, similar in aspect and technique to the ones above was discovered at the ground floor of the new gate tower (the western tower) when the salvation excavations were done in the monument.

[18] These pieces will be studied in the near future in an extended study.

[19] Rusu 1998, 9.

[20] Szöcs 2000, 5-10.

[21] Gerevich 1966, 75, fig. 90/1-12; these materials are dated from the end of the XIVth to the XVIth centuries. This is another argument in dating levels 4 and 5 in the sacristy of the chapel in the XVth century.

[22] The speciality papers regarding the monument in Hunedoara date the building of the chapel arround year 1446 (Möller 1913, 13; Bogdan 1970, 24; Anghel 1986, 131; Rusu 1999, 48-49; Lupescu 2003, 12; the last two authors mention a fortress chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary; they express the uncertainty about the identification of this chapel with the one inside the castle.