‘Sensational’ Medieval Armor Discovered Near a Castle in Switzerland

The rare 14th-century gauntlet is one of the best-preserved artifacts of its kind ever found in the country

Both Gauntlets
The gauntlet pieces were found in northeastern Switzerland. Canton of Zürich Building Department

Archaeologists in Switzerland have unearthed a gauntlet likely worn by a medieval soldier or knight. Dating to the 14th century, the armored glove is remarkably well-preserved.

The artifact was found inside the remains of a medieval weaving cellar on the southeastern grounds of Kyburg Castle. Located near the Swiss-German border, Kyburg looms over the Töss river and houses the country’s oldest castle museum.

The weaving cellar burned down in the 14th century, but researchers think a blacksmith was forging metal in the area sometime before the fire. Onsite, they found over 50 metal objects—tweezers, a hammer, pliers, keys and knives—but the “sensational find” was a “completely preserved gauntlet of armor,” according to a Google-translated statement from the Canton of Zürich.

“Never before has such a well-preserved and complete gauntlet from the 14th century appeared in Switzerland,” the canton says in a Facebook post. “Who did the gauntlet belong to? Was it newly made in the Kyburg forge or already worn in battle? Cantonal archaeology will now investigate such questions.”

Right Gauntlet Reconstructed
Researchers created a reconstruction of the well-preserved gauntlet. Canton of Zürich Building Department

While European soldiers and knights began wearing gauntlets in the 11th century, officials say that finding one that predates the 15th century is “extremely rare,” writes CBS News’ Emily Mae Czachor.

The newly discovered gauntlet is a “four-fold finger glove” that was worn on the right hand, according to the statement. Made of iron, the armor’s metal plates are stacked on top of each other like scales. This design provided the wearer’s fingers with both protection and range of movement. As Lorena Burkhardt, the team’s project manager, says in a video, the gauntlet could have been worn while wielding a sword, per McClatchy’s Moira Ritter.

“The individual components of the glove were attached to the inside with additional rivets on a leather or textile carrier material, which in turn was sewn onto a textile finger glove,” write officials. “There are still unanswered questions about the typological development and the question of who the gauntlet once belonged to.”

Only five other similarly aged gauntlets have been found in Switzerland—and of these discoveries, the Kyburg gauntlet is the most well-preserved. Its “details of design and decoration” also set it apart from other finds, officials write. Nearby, researchers even unearthed a few fragments of its left-handed twin.

In late March, a copy of the deconstructed gauntlet will become a permanent exhibit at Kyburg Castle, alongside researchers’ reconstruction of the glove, which shows what the piece would have looked like in its 14th-century prime. The original gauntlet will go on display at Kyburg for a few weeks this fall.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.