Nowe Monasterzysko (New Monastery in Młynary commune, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship) is a village founded on 8 November 1320 by the Teutonic Order on the order of Hermann von Oppen, Elbląg commander. There is evidence that in 1589 Joachim von Belau (Belaw) had a farm and a manor here. He also owned the lands of Nowe Monasterzysko and the nearby village of Sokolnik. Joachim von Belau also funded a Protestant church construction around 1599 in the place where a cemetery is located today. He was probably buried in the church crypt and his tombstone is still in the cemetery today.
The date of death on the tombstone indicates 1623. There is also the family coat of arms and psalm 73 from the Book of Psalms, verses 25-26 ("Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.").
In the same crypt, which was probably in the basement of the church, other von Belau family members were buried: Frederick August von Belau (he died on 1 July 1725 and was buried on 12 July 1725) and Maria-Luiza von Belau née von Glockmann (she died on 30 April 1724 and was buried on 7 May 1725), who were the last heirs to Kwietnik, Podgórze and Nowe Monasterzysko.
Near the von Belau crypt, a second crypt was built, probably belonging to the Ohlrich family. At that time, a cemetery grew around the church.
After the extinction of the von Belau family, the church began to fall into ruin. In 1771 New Monasterzysko was visited and the condition of the church was described as follows:
This church building, where there was no bell tower and only one small bell on the top, is made of half-timbered brick, the whole building collapses, the whole wooden structure is rotten, the bricks are damaged, the tiles are broken or missing. Inside the church, the floor is rotten from moisture, benches and doors are just as badly damaged, windows are broken, so the whole building cannot be repaired, it must be rebuilt.
Finally, on January 2, 1780, the villagers were assigned to the church in Zastawno, and the church in Nowe Monasterzysko was demolished.
The area where the church had been erected was now a cemetery. To this day, tombstones can be found from the second half of the 19th century. In the 1920s, a monument commemorating the village inhabitants who died in World War I was built in the western part of the cemetery. After World War II, the cemetery was no longer used for burial ceremonies, it was looted and devastated.
In September 2014, the expedition of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the University of Gdańsk conducted archaeological research in the area of the historic Evangelical cemetery in Nowe Monasterzysko. The initial idea for the works came from the Association of Residents and Friends of the Nowe Monasterzysko followed by an agreement between the University of Gdańsk and the Młynary Town Hall and Commune Office.
The aim of our research was both to explore and groom the cemetery. As the excavation proceeded, we also made sure to secure the site against its further degradation. The 17th-century crypt of the von Belau (Belaw) family, which is located in the eastern part of the cemetery, required special attention. As a result of human activity and vegetation, its condition required immediate intervention. During the works, we uncovered the entire crypt, secured its construction and catalogued the items we found. The human bones were examined by an anthropologist. After the examination, the bones were placed in a specially prepared chest and they were buried during the funeral ceremony. The ceremony was ecumenical and was attended by two priests - Marcin Pilch, pastor of the Evangelical-Augsburg parish in Elbląg and Hubert Chodyna, parson of the Roman Catholic parish in Błudów, as well as residents of the commune and the German minority from Elbląg.
We found numerous items related to the history of the cemetery in and around the crypt. Among them were fragments of tombstones, crosses, ceramic epitaphs, decorative cast iron fence elements, grave elements or cemetery items. We also came across objects which probably belonged to 19th-century village residents: a pipe and a coin.
In 2015, we continued our research. The historical query showed that next to the crypt of the von Belau (Belaw) family, which was the subject of research in 2014, was the second crypt, which belonged to the Ohlrich family. We uncovered its entire structure, cleaned it and carried out the necessary conservation procedures to protect the crypt from further degradation. We also completed the necessary archaeological documentation. Bones were cleaned, sorted, and then reassembled in the crypt while maintaining the highest ethical standards.
Our next task was to determine the location of the former Protestant church from the end of the 18th century and to uncover its foundations.
In addition to the excavations, we try to cooperate with scientists from various scientific disciplines: historians, art historians, anthropologists and ethnologists.
As part of our research, we conduct a historical query to learn the history of the village, church and cemetery from the documents available in the archives. We are also working on the inventory, conservation and display of other tombstones in the cemetery.
Due to the nature of the site (a demolished cemetery), our tasks also include explaining the need for preserving historical heritage without prejudice to ethnicity and creating a bond between the past and the present.
SUMMARY OF ACTIONS
The project involved the following tasks:
- we organized and conducted classes for children and teenagers from 10 school trips - over 350 people in total;
- we gave tours of the site to numerous individual visitors who signed our excavation guest book;
- we installed IP cameras at the site to broadcast the works live on the Internet. It was streamed on our website and via a dedicated application for mobile devices;
- we kept the research journal on Facebook and Twitter, where we posted content, videos and photos from the site;
- we kept in touch with the press, radio, television as our project made it to the media: TVN24, TVP Olsztyn, Radio Olsztyn, Radio Eska, Studio Elbląg, Gazeta Wyborcza, Dziennik Elbląski, portEl.pl, Trójmiasto.pl, PAP Nauka w Polsce, Strefa Historii;
- we developed a free online game Excavate! – played 897,013 times so far (close to a MILLION!) according to the data from Armor Games, Kongregate and Newgrounds;;
- we designed and made two information boards about the history of Nowe Monasterzysko, the cemetery and archaeological research at the site in Polish and German. The boards are located in the cemetery;
- we have written and published two research papers about the cemetery in Nowe Monasterzysko, in which we presented the results of our research and popularization activities from 2014-2015:
- L. Czerniak, W. Kulczykowski, Archeolodzy między przeszłością a przyszłością. Prace konserwatorskie i edukacyjne na ewangelickim cmentarzu w Nowym Monasterzysku, gm. Młynary, pow. Elbląg, „Gdańskie Studia Archeologiczne”, nr 4, 2014, s. 181-205.- W. Kulczykowski, Archeolog w służbie zniszczonych cmentarzy. Drugi sezon prac konserwatorskich i edukacyjnych prowadzonych w 2015 roku na ewangelickim cmentarzu w Nowym Monasterzysku, gm. Młynary, pow. Elbląg, „Gdańskie Studia Archeologiczne”, nr 6, 2016, s. 219-241.
THE PROJECT RECEIVED SUPPORT FROM
The project „Stanowisko archeologiczne live & online” - "Live & online archaeological site" is co-financed from the funds granted by the Foundation for Polish Science under Agreement No. 96/UD/SKILLS/2015 for the use of the Award granted in the eNgage competition under the SKILLS project co-financed from the European Social Fund.
Archaeological research has been conducted since 2014 by the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the University of Gdańsk with the support of the Association of Residents and Friends of Nowe Monasterzysko. The research is financed from the funds of the Młynary City Hall and Commune.