The Archaeology of Sound, Acoustics & Music: Studies in Honour of Cajsa S. Lund

Publications of the ICTM Study Group on Music Archaeology, Vol. 3

Music Archaeology in Wolin, Poland: A Thirteenth Century Possible Fiddle, Citole or Nyckelharpa

Dorota Popławska, Andrzej Janowski and Stanisław Mazurek

In 2012, a wooden plate (No. W3/2012/S/303) was excavated during archaeological research
conducted in the old port on the island of Wolin (Poland). The artefact was subjected to a xylological, dendrochronological, 14C, tomographic and comparative study. As a result of these tests, it was determined that the plate was built from a single piece of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). 14C dating showed that the find was made in the last quarter of the 13th century.

The find has been preserved in a very good condition; however, less than a quarter of the lower part is missing. The plate’s form is described as follows: the lower part has a rounded shape, there is a narrowing in the middle part and there is a pentagonal shape in the upper part. In the rounded part, two small rectangular holes were cut out symmetrically, one of which is intentionally blocked.
The plate is carefully processed; the thickness of the board varies, and is thickest in the middle
parts. The plate is arched, which is visible in CT (tomographic) images. Research suggests that the find is the soundboard of a stringed instrument. Among possible instruments that we compare the find with, fiddles, citoles and nyckelharpas are the most similar with the latter being the most likely one.

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