Medieval iron glove, likely worn by a knight, discovered near Swiss castle

Two medieval iron gloves.
The nearly complete iron gauntlet (right) was found near parts of its match near a medieval castle in Switzerland (Image credit: Canton of Zürich Construction Department)

Archaeologists in Switzerland have unearthed an impeccably preserved gauntlet that was likely worn by a knight in the 14th century.

"Completely preserved," the right-handed iron glove was found inside a cellar at a known medieval town near Kyburg Castle, about 11 miles (18 kilometers) northeast of Zurich. The "four-fold finger glove" contains "individual iron plates" that were placed on top of each other like fish scales and were connected by rivets. Each piece was individually attached to the armored glove's leather or cloth interior, according to a translated statement from the Canton of Zurich.

The gauntlet was discovered alongside more than 50 other metal artifacts, including a hammer, tongs, tweezers, knives, pliers, keys and fragments of the glove's left-handed mate.

Researchers were fortunate to find the collection, considering that upcoming construction work at the site put the items at risk, according to The New York Times.

"We knew that all the archaeological remains in the ground would be destroyed during this construction work," Lorena Burkhardt, the excavation leader and an archaeology graduate student at the University of Zurich, told The New York Times.

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The finding marks the first time that a nearly complete gauntlet from the 14th century has been unearthed in Switzerland. Previously, the oldest known gauntlets were from the 15th century.

"So far, only five other gauntlets from this period have been found during archaeological excavations in Switzerland, although none of these pieces is anywhere near as well preserved and shows as many details of design and decoration as the Kyburg gauntlet," the researchers wrote in the statement.

But the excavation team remains uncertain of who wore the glove.

A copy of the glove is scheduled to be on public display beginning March 29 as part of a permanent exhibition at Kyburg Castle. The original gauntlet will be on display at the castle for three weeks beginning Sept. 7.

Jennifer Nalewicki
Live Science Staff Writer

Jennifer Nalewicki is a Salt Lake City-based journalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics and more. She covers several science topics from planet Earth to paleontology and archaeology to health and culture. Prior to freelancing, Jennifer held an Editor role at Time Inc. Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.