Bukowiec Cross

Conciliation crosses are monolithic objects carved from a single block of stone, and were mainly made using local material (granite, basalt, conglomerate or sandstone). They were erected by murderers at the site of their crimes (most often secluded places in forests, by the roadside).


Sometimes such a cross was erected by the victim’s family using the murderer’s money, next to churches, or at crossroads. They were intended to induce reflection and prayer for the souls of the murdered and murderer.
The custom of erecting conciliation crosses or chapels most probably lasted from the 13th to the 19th century.
Apart from erecting the cross, the murderer was usually also obliged to:
•    cover the funeral costs
•    pay for the trial
•    provide for the keep of the victim’s family
•    order a mass
•    purchase candles for the church
•    go on a pilgrimage to a holy location (such as Rome, Jerusalem or Aachen)
      

 Sometimes other punishments were also meted out to the murderer:
•    made to stand at a whipping post
•    walking naked through the village
•    kneeling over the open grave with the tools of the crime
•    crawling around the cemetery a few times on their knees, holding a candle
•    cleaning the town
In their early days, these crosses were of simple stone form, without any engravings, while in later periods the form changed. Some had sculpted likenesses of the tool of the crime – a knife, crossbow, pitchfork, axe or sword, etc. – and some crosses gave information regarding the murder’s location, time, perpetrator and tool.
Three such conciliation crosses are to be found within the Rudawy Landscape Park: in Bukowiec, Janowice Wielkie and Miedzianka.


The Cross in Bukowiec


This is a free-standing cross, with the tool of the crime – a spear – engraved into it. Apart from making the actual cross, the murderer also had to carve out what was used for the murder. Earlier cross forms were simpler, without writing or carvings of the murder weapon.
The cross is to be found near the Church of St John the Baptist. When travelling from Karpniki to Bukowiec, turn left at the church, and continue along the paved road for about 100 m. The cross stands to the left.




Translation Jonathan Weber