The soldiers perished at the Battle of Kalisz in western Poland on October 29, 1706, six years into the Great Northern War. The battle was part of King Karl XII’s unexpected campaign against neutral Poland-Lithuania, which began after Swedish forces split the Russian army in two at the Battle of Narva in 1700.
The war finally ended in defeat for Sweden at the Treaty of Nystad in 1721.
Archaeologist Leszek Ziabka claims that Sweden has displayed a complete lack of interest in the fate of its fallen troops.
“Swedish authorities have a list of all the names but don’t care about them,” Ziabka told Aftonbladet.
General Arvid Axel Mardefelt’s troops were severely routed at the Battle of Kalisz, which lasted just two and a half hours. Those Swedish soldiers not slain in the heat of battle were quickly pursued and killed by a contingent of Ukrainian Cossacks.
“We have so far dug up eight complete skeletons. The remains of at least 1,000 Swedes are located here,” said Ziabka.
A second mass grave at nearby Koscielna Wies contains the remains of a further 16,000 Swedish soldiers, according to Polish news agency PAP. The agency further reports that farmers in the region have begun digging up skeletons, as well as weapons belonging to the Swedish soldiers.
The Polish archaeologist explained that his team lacks the resources to analyse the finds. But should his Swedish counterparts show an interest they will be given full access to the three centuries old remains of their countrymen.
“Despite the fact that Sweden is no longer interested in its fallen soldiers we in Poland intend to erect a monument to them,” said Ziabka.
News agency PAP reported that the Swedish soldiers will not be forgotten on All Saints’ Day – Polish farmers plan to light candles on the mass graves as a mark of respect.