Saaremaa Muuseum. Kaheaastaraamat 2009–2010. Kuressaare, 2011, 379 pp.

Saaremaa Muuseumi kaheaastaraamat 2009 - 2010

Jüri Peets and Jaanus Valt – A Weapon of the Latest Iron Age on Saaremaa, Mainland Estonia and on Neighbouring Areas

Archaeological finds and written sources indicate that in the Latest Iron Age and the beginning of the Middle Ages javelins belonged among most common weaponry of Estonians and their neighbours. The javelin-heads varied considerably by their shape and size as well as the hafting mode. Local peculiarities can be sometimes observed in the frequency of occurrence of some javelin types. One of such clearly discernible specific javelin types is the type with a so-called knife-shaped blade, which are found only on the sites of the Latest Iron Age in the Eastern Baltic region. Most of the javelin-heads of this type have been found in Estonia, where their total number (152) is more than twice as large as the number of such finds from all neighbouring areas together (fig. 1, 2). The javelin-heads with knife-shaped blades are slightly more numerous in Latvia and Finland and less frequent in NW Russia, Lithuania and Byelorussia.

Since the javelin finds of this type from Saaremaa constitute a substantial part of the respective record of Estonia and their genesis seems to be closely related to the maritime culture, primarily with seafaring and its military aspect (coast defence, commercial voyages, military raids, etc.), in which the development and perfection of military technique was of primary importance, we think it justified to discuss separately the finds from Saaremaa. It is possible that especially the blacksmiths and seamen of Saaremaa played an essential role in the forming and evolving – together with the devising of the simple production technology – as well as distribution of the discussed type of weapons. The accentuation of  Saaremaa in connection with the discussion of this weapon type is further justified by the fact that at the end of the Prehistoric Period the inhabitants of Saaremaa had in their possession substantial local strategic raw material – iron, thanks to natural resources of the Tuiu–Pelisoo–Tõrise iron-smelting district.


Liina Maldre – Archaeozoological Material of the First Salme Boat

Boat burials were a very widespread type of interments both in Scandinavia and in Scandinavians’ settlement areas elsewhere in Europe in the Vendel and the Viking periods. Until the first Salme Boat was found only burials containing boat rivets had been known in Estonia. In 2010 another boat burial was found in Salme. As the excavation of the second Salme boat is still under way, I will here mainly focus on the archaeozoological materials of the first Salme Boat.

The finds from the first Salme boat contained numerous animal bones, with bovids (Bos taurus), sheep (Ovis aries), goat (Capra hircus) and the swine (Sus scrofa domestica) represented. Of birds there were two species of hawks ­– the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and the sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus). The bone fragments of bovids and sheep/goats were more or less in equal numbers while the number of pig and hawk bones was considerably smaller. The bones of bovids and sheep/goats belong to juvenile, young as well as adult individuals, but there were no piglet bones among the pig bones. The animals had not been placed in the boat in one piece and so we have to do with remnants of bigger or smaller chunks of meat. There are no crane fragments of the animals in the bone matter or fragments of lower jaw bones (with the exception of a yeanling head) or bones of distal parts of the extremities.

As no boat burials have earlier been found in Estonia, then the only opportunity is to look for parallels in the archaeozoological material of the neighbouring countries’ analogous antiquities. Horse and dog bones have been found from almost all Vendel and Viking period boat burials. Of these, horses are in most cases outside starboard side of the boat, while dogs are in the boat next to the port side. These two types are represented also in Scandinavian boat burials elsewhere. There were no dog or horse bones in the first Salme boat; in the second boat dogs were clearly represented, but no horse bones have been found there until today.

Also other animals’ bones have been received from boat burials in a bigger or smaller degree. Overwhelmingly they have been bones of domestic animals, with bovids, sheep/goats and pigs represented. These species may be represented as whole skeletons as well as in pieces, that is as meat. However, it is somewhat surprising that there is a total lack of the distal part of animal extremities in our material, and also the representation of bones of the head area is very low. Animal teeth and bones of distal parts of extremities have been found but all of them were from areas that had been damaged by ditches and holes dugs into the ground. As a result it is not yet clear whether they are connected with the boat or we have to do with some kind of material of later origin.


Kaur Alttoa – About Püha Church, the Kaarma Vestry and about Bohemian Builders on Saaremaa

Contrary to other medieval Saaremaa churches St Jacob’s of Püha has attracted rather little attention among researchers. The main reason is the condition of the building: conspicuous features that usually speak the most about the history of a building have been badly damaged in fires.

The early building history of  the church at Püha is similar to that of St Peter’s and St Paul’s of Kaarma: a stone church is planned and the vestry is the first part put up (in Kaarma it was initially used as a chapel). The Püha Church vestry was probably built before St Catherine’s of Karja. The building of the sanctuary started considerably later. Several of its details are similar to features in the chevet of St Martin’s of Valjala and in the Kuressaare Castle. In case of these buildings we very likely have to do with the work of Bohemian builders of the second half of the 14th century. There are features very similar to those of Kuressaare and Valjala in the ambulatory of Emmaus Monastery of Prague (built in 1347; the paintings of the ambulatory date from 1358–62). It is possible that this is the key also to dating of the activity of Bohemian builders on Saaremaa.

The nave, a secondary feature added to the sanctuary, is conspicuously asymmetrical. Its building was apparently made complicated due to an earlier provisional wooden nave. The latest medieval addition was the west tower, erected at the end of the 15th century. There was also a fireplace in the tower. It was apparently intended for the guard of a guard team. Situated on the seashore, the Püha Church tower was in visual contact with the Kuressaare Castle and it was easy to pass on information about what was taking place on the sea.

But it has to be underlined that there are sill several unsolved problems in the building history of St Jacob’s of Püha.


Andres Adamson – About revenues of the Saaremaa Bailiwick of the Saare–Lääne

(Oesel–Wiek)Bishopric in the Year 1562

The article publishes the translation of a report, drawn up on 18 December 1562, of the land revenues (both payments in kind and in cash) and an overview of the peasants’ taxation system of the Saaremaa Bailiwick (comprising two thirds of Saaremaa and half of Hiiumaa). The document does not reflect all the revenues of the bailiwick but mainly the payments in kind and in cash of service manors’ peasants. The report brings the data both according to administrative and economic units as well as in the sum total. The revenues have been listed by their types. According to the report there were three regular dates of the payment of socage: St John’s Day socage, the hinnus or autumn socage and the big of winter socage.

The document also gives an overview of the enfeoffments (fewer than usually believed) of Duke Magnus who ascended to the post of Saare–Lääne Bishop in 1560. It is so far the only deep-going overview of the peasants’ fiscal burdens of the Saaremaa and Hiiumaa area, which belonged to the bishopric in that period, from which a considerably more traditional and patriarchal picture appears than earlier believed. The original of the document is kept in the Danish State Archives (TKUA, Livland, Tillaeg 1560 – Tillaeg 1563).


Tiina Ojala – First Names of Kihelkonna Parish in Changing Time

The article focuses on the first names given to children in the years 1785–1926 in the Estonian parish lying the farthest in the west. To draw up the database a record was made of all the first names of persons born in the above period according to metric books. As in that period there were very few of those who converted to Orthodoxy in the 1840s (only 2.7 percent against 29.8 percent in Saaremaa as a whole), the selection embraces almost the whole local population.

The record included the first names of 26,272 children (13,591 of boys and 12,681 of girls). There are many different names and their versions (1,008 of boys and 1,150 of girls), but only a few of them were widely used. There are many instances of several different names given to a child and the number of double names was particularly high (758 for boys and 897 for girls). Some of the names persisted through the period studied, but others, mainly of the earlier period, became obsolete.

The ten most popular names were given to 62.5 percent of boys and 70.6 percent of girls. The overwhelmingly most popular boy’s name was Mihkel, which was given to 1,700 children (the fact that the local church was dedicated to Archangel Michael could have played a role). The next most popular name was Peeter and the third Jaen (given in respectively 1,365 and 1,188 occasions). The three most popular girls’ names were Miina, Tiina and Liiso, given respectively on 1,305, 1,268 and 1,250 occasions. The three most popular names all through the period were Mihkel (in 103 years), Peeter (in 92 years) and Liiso (in 70 years).

At the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries people started to give various composite names to children, and 1,380 boys and 1,444 girls received them, respectively 10.2 percent of boys and 11.4 percent of girls. The most widespread composite names were Friedrich and Elviine.

The smallest number of different names was used in the period 1815–85. Before that the choice of names was bigger and started to grow particularly at the end of the 19th century. Until the last decades of the 19th century the number of different boys’ names was bigger than that of girl names. Starting from 1895 different names were more often given to girls than boys.


Katrin Äär – Calendars published on Saaremaa until 1940

The first Estonian calendar was Eesti-Ma Rahwa Kalender for 1720, published by the Tallinn printer J. Köhler; later his successors continued publication of the calendar.

The calendar immediately became a household book and was the only reading matter for country people side by side with the Bible and the hymnal during a long period of time. It served to look up festivals and other important dates such as fairs and brought various useful instructions and pieces of writing that extended the readers’ horizons. Stories, jokes, fables and poems were offered for amusement. Due to their low price calendars were willingly bought and their role in spreading practical knowledge and creation of the habit of reading fiction was high. Printing offices and later bookshops, publishing houses, various societies and associations were the first calendar publishers. Year by year calendars grew in size and their contents widened, the illustrations became more interesting, new series arrived and their print runs became bigger than those of many other books. Also the contents of the calendar supplements widened, more and more interesting information was printed in them and advertisements also found their way into calendars.

The first calendar printed on Saaremaa, Eesti-rahva mönnus Kalender ehk Tähtramat 1864 aasta peäle, was published by the first local printer, Kristjan Assafrey (1837–1874). The series of his calendars was published until 1885 and later its literary supplements were drawn up by Carl Friedrich Freundlich (1803–1872), the Muhu churchwarden and schoolteacher who was also known as a calendar author on the mainland. Later other Kuressaare printers (Hartwig von Sass, Karl Habicht, Tehve Liiv, to name a few) began printing calendars. In addition to calendar series running into many years several calendars that appeared only once came off the press in that period.

A new type of calendars – shops’ and other companies’ advertising calendars – started to appear in Estonia at the beginning of the 20th century.  Aleksander Friedrich Allik (1868–1953), the first pharmacist to have opened shop in Kuressaare, had a shop next to his pharmacy in Turu Street. To wider advertise the goods on sale both in his pharmacy and paint shop he brought out Mag. A. Alllik’a Kuressare rohu- ja wärwikaupluse kalender for the years 1912–14, printed at H. Papp’s printing office. In 1936, however, the Saarlane printing shop launched a major one-year project, printing a calendar with 32 different titles but with the same contents. A number of bigger and smaller Saaremaa District companies were involved in the venture.

Two series of handbook-type calendars intended for a concrete sphere of activity and dictated by local needs were also published on Saaremaa. Mere Kalender: Almanak ja Käsiraamat (Maritime calendar: Almanac and Handbook) was brought out on the initiative of Ants Piip in the series Proceedings of the Kuressaare Seamen’s Society in the years 1909 to 1913, simultaneously laying the basis to maritime literature in Estonian. In 1920 the Saaremaa Publishing Company brought on sale Saaremaa Põllumehe Kalender-käsiraamat (Saaremaa Farmer’s Calendar and Handbook), edited by Hendrik Otstavel (1888–1942), agricultural inspector and later district governor.

Until 1940 the output of the Saaremaa printing shops mainly contained materials of local importance with calendars accounting for about 25 percent of the local printed matter. The list brings calendars that actually exist or are registered in some bibliography. It has been possible to establish 180 calendars printed in Kuressaare, and 114 of them are represented in collections of the Saaremaa Museum.


Endel Püüa – Mihkel Neps, “King” of Saaremaa

Mihkel Neps was one the most outstanding local government figures of the first period of Estonian independence on Saaremaa. He was born on 19 September 1890 in a village schoolteacher’s family in Tammese Village, Lümanda Municipality. Orphaned at an early age, he acquired parish school education despite economic difficulties. In 1909–11 the young man worked as municipal scribe in Lümanda and in Muhu-Hellamaa. Later he came to work as official in Kuressaare.

Inspired by the Russian February Revolution, Mihkel Neps went into politics. He was elected into the Kuressaare City Council on 23 July 1917, became member of the District Council on 3 August and a few days later also deputy chairman of the District Government. During the German occupation Mihkel Neps was arrested and imprisoned in the fortress of Dünamünde, from where he was released on 20 November 1918.

Returning to his native island he resumed his earlier positions in the leading bodies of the district. At the same time he passionately plunged into the electoral campaign of the Estonian Constituent Assembly, at first heading the Saaremaa Socialist Workers’ Union, the electoral block of Labour and Social Democrats and after its disintegration as No One of the Saaremaa Social Democrats’ list. In 1919–20 Mihkel Neps was member of the Constituent Assembly. He was often the spokesman of the Social Democratic faction, taking the floor on as many as 72 occasions. Besides, Neps took part in the work of five permanent and three ad hoc committees. A good speaker, he stood out by his logical thinking, knowledge of laws and different spheres of life, wonderful skill in performance and sharp repartees. Neps’s career in big-time politics continued in the 1st and the 2nd State Assemblies (Riigikogu), although for a short time as substitute member from 14 September 1925 until 15 January 1926.

Mihkel Neps‘s main work during his lifetime was that of chairman of the Saaremaa District Government. His leadership of the Saaremaa District was the longest, holding the post as long as 11 years and four months (from 18 October 1923 until 15 March 1935, and he headed four successive district governments. He was no doubt the most colourful and outstanding politician in Saaremaa during his period, being a man of ideas, a good administrator, firm protector of Saaremaa’s interests and a man after the people’s heart. Thanks to his perseverance, natural intelligence and eloquence he soon earned great respect among the people, receiving from them the title of King of Saaremaa.  Mihkel Neps’s tremendous ability of work and level of responsibility can be seen from the fact that he was member of the Kuressaare City Council starting from 1917 until 1937, in 1927–28 and 1930–31 chairman of the City Council and assistant chairman in 1932–1937.

Neps was member of the Kuressaare Estonian Society, the Kuressaare Voluntary Firemen, the Kuressaare Society for More Beautiful Homes, the Society of Care for Prisoners, the Islands’ Nature Protection Society and of supervisory boards of several companies. A passionate sailor, he was founder of the Saaremaa Maritime Sports Society.

Besides, Neps was the founder of the Saaremaa Organisation of the Estonian Socialist Labour Party and its ideological leader until his death, having been board chairman of the party in the years 1919, 1920, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1934.

Mihkel Neps died on 21 March 1937 and was buried at the Kudjape Cemetery.


Hanno Ojalo – Wrecks of War and Transport Ships in Saaremaa Waters

Both the world wars of the 20th century took a heavy toll in human lives on the Baltic Sea. Dozens of ships sank and were sunk on both sides. The article focuses only on bigger vessels, not mentioning smaller launches and fishing ships for lack of room. The main data of the sunken ships, their crews and the circumstances of their sinking have been listed in the chronological order. The article brings data about 17 Russian and Soviet, 12 German, four British, four Estonian and two Latvian ships.  No doubt the biggest and most famous ship to have sunk in Saaremaa waters was the Russian ironclad Slava (built in 1905, displacement 13,516 tons, with a crew of 825), which was so badly damaged in a naval battle on 17 October 1917 due to heavy fire from German battleships that the crew was forced to sink it in the Suur Väin Strait.

In the autumn of 1944 the Soviet Red Fleet did not use major war and transport ships because of the great danger of mines in the Saaremaa area. As a result only small vessels were lost in these waters, with the Russians losing some torpedo boats and the Germans a few landing lighters.


Gerhard Bergmann – Memories of Umsiedlung and of what followed it

Gerhard Emil Bergmann (1901 Kuressaare – 1991 Vaihingen) was the fourth son of Carl Bergmann, a well-known Kuressaare merchant and entrepreneur. In the years 1920–27 he studied chemistry and economics at Tartu and several German universities and later worked as co-owner and business manager of his father’s department store.

On 20 October 1939 Saaremaa residents of German nationality left Kuressaare via the Roomassaare Port on board the steamer Adler. Also the big Bergmanns’ family left on board that ship, with the exception of Gerhard together with his wife, Helga, who remained to sell the family’s assets. As Gerhard Bergmann was one of the few Germans who remained in Saaremaa, Alban Völkers, representative of the German Government, asked him to become trustee of the German Resettlement Trust Partnership Ltd (Deutsche Umsiedlungs-Treuhand- Aktiengesellschaft – DUT). It was his duty to protect the German resettlers’ interests in the liquidation of their assets.

Requisition of the apartments and houses that had been left empty immediately began for the Soviet forces. As the first thing the building of the Kuressaare German School was reorganized into barracks; the study aids were handed over to the Estonian Secondary School (gymnasium) and the library to the City Government.  There was a lot of work with collection of the more valuable pieces of furniture that had been left behind and packing them for transport to Germany. If the movable property could be liquidated and sold relatively rapidly then the Estonian population’s interest in real estate was very low, the main reason being that all the empty houses had already been occupied by Soviet forces but also insecure political future had a role to play. As a result only one house could be sold with Bergmann’s mediation. The property of the German Yacht Club was handed over to the Estonian Saaremaa Maritime Sports Society.

Bergmann remained a DUT trustee until the beginning of September 1940 “until the unbearable circumstances and the malicious peevishness of the Estonian and Russian Communist authorities” forced him to give up his post. In October, he too returned to Germany where he later mainly worked as bookkeeper for the Finance Ministry. His memoirs have been translated from Arensburger Wochenblatt No 20–23 (1987–88).


Sulev Truuväärt – From Baikonur to Lake Karujärv. Memoirs of a Soviet

Missile Forces Soldier

The author of the memoirs was born on Estonia’s westernmost Vilsandi lsland.  After leaving secondary school he was forced to enter a military school due to economic reasons. In the years 1954–57 he studied at the Leningrad 1st Artillery Officers School, from which he graduated with the profession of platoon commander in the rank of lieutenant. He was assigned to serve as platoon commander of an artillery regiment in the Volga Military District and later on the island of Sakhalin. In 1961 he was transferred into strategic missile forces and in that capacity he first served as technician of the regiment in Kaliningrad.

The present memoirs speak about his following service in the training centre of the Tyuratam strategic missiles testing ground near the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 1963. Among others the author met with numerous Soviet cosmonauts and missile constructors and could observe the lift-off of several spaceships.

Due to his father’s death Truuväärt was in 1964 transferred to his native Saaremaa, where he served until 1980 as platoon and battery commander and chief of staff of the 1176th anti-aircraft regiment (starting from 1968 the 210th anti-missile brigade). In 1966 he was promoted to captain and in 1970 to major. The author, who possesses a good memory, expressively describes the facilities, weaponry and daily life of the four missile forces’ firing divisions (at Oriküla, Sõrve, Kallemäe and Muhu) and of the technical divisions at Karujärve, then Deyevo. The local S-75 Volkhov-type missiles could hit aircraft starting from the altitude of 350 meters to 30 kilometres and up to 56 km away. Distance monitoring was carried out by locator companies stationed at Sõrve and Undva. Each division had to be on combat watch every four months. This meant five-minute readiness for the launch of a missile, if any NATO aircraft would have crossed the border. The latter, he said, constantly flew back and forth along the border, becoming particularly active during Soviet red-letter days.

In 1967 six new divisions for S-125 Neva missile sets (intended for low-flying targets starting from 25 meters) were built at Tehumardi, Laadla, Kõruse, Ninase, at Jõiste near Leisi and at Muhu-Liiva. At the same time busy building work was going on at a former tankodrome at Karujärve where later a new top-secrete missile set, S-200 Angara, including three canals (divisions), was later installed. The building commando renovated barracks built in 1940, erected a large boiler house and a two-storied block of flats for officers and later another similar one, with running water and sewage disposal installed into the barracks. A technical block and classrooms were built for the technical division.

Meanwhile, from March 1967 until July 1968 Truuväärt had to perform the duties of commandant of the City of Kingissepa and of the Island of Saaremaa, and among other things to carry out investigation of various military incidents and crimes.


Raul Salumäe – Subjective Retrospect of Estonian Citizens’ Committees on Saaremaa

This overview of the activity of Estonian Citizens’ Committees (EKKs) in the period 1989–91 is in the shape of personal memoirs and is inevitably unbiased and fragmented, as most of the events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union have been very poorly documented due to the then circumstances.

The public reading of the joint declaration by the Estonian Christian Union, the Estonian Heritage Society and the Estonian National Independence Party (ERSP) for the 71st anniversary of the Republic of Estonia took place at a popular meeting in the then District House of Culture in Kuressaare. The Kuressaare Estonian Citizens’ Committee was set up at a popular meeting on 10 April 1989. It appeared that it was the fourth such committee in Estonia and the first in a district centre.

Local and all-Estonian representations of the Communist Party, which by then had split up into widely disagreeing sets, did not display any really effective opposition to the citizens’ committees movement, although there were some attempts of influencing me as chairman of the Kuressaare EKK. But on several occasions it became possible for me to take advantage of Communist Party channels in the citizens’ committees’ interests.

Persons faithful to the leadership of the Estonian Popular Front, however, attempted to prevent the establishment of citizens’ committees as it had set its aim at the legitimisation of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic that had been created as an administrative unit of the Soviet occupation period, thus hoping to soften the process of inevitable disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The actual registration of citizens of the Republic of Estonia into Congress of Estonia electoral lists all over the country only began in May 1989. By St John’s Eve of the same year the attitude of the people slowly but firmly turned in favour of the citizens’ committees with the result that the Popular Front was forced to gradually start supporting the citizens’ committees’ movement at the end of the year.

Most of the Estonian citizens’ committees were dissolved after the elections to the Congress of Estonia on 24 February 1990. In Saaremaa a small nucleus of the citizens’ committees survived, taking part in some country-wide debates about issues of principle concerning legal continuity of the Republic of Estonia. It was thanks to the activity of the Estonian Citizens’ Committees that it was possible to restore the Republic of Estonia on the basis of its legal continuity on August 20, 1991, and so, in retrospect I can only be pleased about my activity in the citizens’ committees’ movement.