Saaremaa Muuseum. Kaheaastaraamat 1999–2000. Kuressaare, 2001, 376 pp.

Saaremaa Muuseumi kaheaastaraamat 1999-2000

Aivar Kriiska, Ulla Saluäär, Lembi Lõugas – Earliest settlement on Ruhnu island. Results of the archaeological expedition in 1999

The prehistory of Estonian small islands has been hitherto very scantily investigated. The same is valid about the island of Ruhnu, the farthest of the mainland in the Livonian Bay. This far our knowledge of the prehistory of Ruhnu was based upon some stray finds which incidentally came to light: a half of a stone axe, probably belonging to the Bronze Age, and an oval strike-a-light, dating probably from the period 100–700. In 1997, the archaeologist Ü. Tamla found quartz flakes in a sandy road near the church. These indicated the presence of a Stone Age settlement site there. During the inventory trip in 1998, more finds were gathered from several places, which gave reason to carry out field works in Ruhnu as a training course for the students of archaeology in Tartu University, from July 19 to August 5, 1999.

The settlement site Ruhnu I (discovered by Ü. Tamla in 1997) situated about 150 m SE of Ruhnu church. The cultural layer occurs there in quite a limited area, about 100 m long, in a hollow between the high ridges of sand dunes, and is evidently mostly damaged by the road. The settlement is situated at the present altitude of 12 m. By the side of the road, E-W oriented trench was dug, measuring 2 × 10 m. Practically the whole cultural layer was mixed. 1185 stone objects were found from Ruhnu I settlement site, 1153 of them made of quartz (some also of quartzite), 22 of flint, and 10 of other rocks.

The Ruhnu II settlement site (discovered by Ü. Tamla, E. Russow and M. Kapsta in 1998) begins about 100 m north of the I site. The field work of 1999 determined the size of the settlement and the nature of the cultural layer, and small-scale trial excavations were carried out. Prospecting and the finds gathered from forest paths indicated a very wide area of the cultural layer. On the lane from Ruhnu village to Valgi, finds were gathered from a 500 m section, and also about 150 m south, along the Överkirke road. The cultural layer seemed most intensive on the peninsula dividing the one-time lagoon, at the crossroads of Valgi and Överkirke roads, where the excavations were carried out. A trial pit was dug in the E-W direction, measuring 2 × 4 m. Five fire-places were partly excavated. They are all sunk into the ground and tightly stoned. The granite stones, mostly measuring up to 10 cm, were heavily crumbled by fire. From the Ruhnu II settlement site, 3271 stone artefacts, 47 bone finds, a potsherd, an iron nail and a couple of slag fragments were found during the inventories and excavations. 3023 of the stone objects are made of quartz and a few of quartzite, 211 are of flint, and 37 of other rocks. A potsherd was found in a trial pit. Most likely the potsherd belongs to the Narva type. Several charcoal samples were gathered from the fire-places, which were dated 6400±170…5400±100 14C-years, which makes middle 5300…4200 cal BC (the bases of calibrating is CAL40.DTA OxCal v2. 18 cub r:4 sd:12 prob[chron]). The 14C datings indicate that we have a monument of several layers here, with the oldest fire-places dating from the Late Mesolithic and the youngest from the Early Neolithic.

During the inventory trips four new settlement sites were discovered and the extent of the formerly known sites was determined.

The island of Ruhnu formed on a bedrock ridge, 20 km long, 10 km wide and 50 m high. The formation of land began here already in the final stage of Baltic Ice Lake, when the connection between the lake and the ocean appeared at Central Sweden and the level of water subsided nearly 25 m in the Baltic basin (ca 11550 years ago in solar calendar). During the early phase of the Litorina Sea only a horseshoe-shaped ancient island of about a couple of, surrounding a low cove, was formed in the eastern part of the present-day Ruhnu. In the SW part of the cove was, in its turn, a small lagoon, shielded at first by an oblong islet and later by a spit. The found stone artefacts are analogous to the Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic finds from Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Coastal Estonia. The absence of potsherds on most of the sites, and the oldest 14C datings date the beginning of human settlement to the end of the Mesolithic.

The potsherds found from Ruhnu belong to the group of Narva pottery, hitherto known only from the islands of West Estonia: from Saaremaa Kõnnu settlement and Hiiumaa Kõpu I settlement. Most likely, the base of the settlement of this place was Saaremaa. At all events the finds from Ruhnu prove that the Stone Age seal hunters covered very long distances across the sea. Ruhnu lies in the distance of more than 50 km from Saaremaa.



Indrek Sirp – Archaeological sites and oral tradition on the island of Muhu

There are 35 certain (archeologically inspected and registered) antiquities and groups of antiquities on Muhu Island. In addition, in the archaeological and folklore archives there exist data of 85 sites of archaeological interest which have not been registered and inspected by archaeologists. It is impossible here to evaluate how many of these 85 really exist yet and how many have been destroyed.

There exist archaeological sites from all chronological periods from the Late Neolithic until the Modern Ages on Muhu Island. Despite that, because of the lack of systematic archaeological research work and excavations, we cannot give an exact chronological overview of settlement formation and its development through the ages. The densest is the concentration of sites a) in Mäla and Raegma villages, b) in the historical centre of the island – Liiva village and its surroundings and c) on the territory, which includes Paenase, Külasema, Pöitse, Tupenurme and Tamse villages.

The uneven distribution of antiquities and the differences in their types in one or another area may characterize the changes of human activities during different periods and the importance of geographical conditions for using the landscape. Still, at the current level of the archaeological research we rather have the problem of more and less inspected areas.

From the 35 certain antiquities in Muhu 20 are connected with oral tradition and toponyms. The ancient cemeteries – prehistoric stone-graves and medieval/post-medieval village cemeteries – are often connected with stories about wars, people killed in battles, ghosts, hidden treasures. Holy stones are known mostly as healing and offering places; often there exists also toponym moaljakivi/maaljakivi, referring both to underground spirits and a disease with a corresponding name. There exist also stones connected with oral tradition, which are not considered to be holy. Still, the oral tradition about ghosts, the Evil One and supernatural phenomena etc. may refer to the former holiness of the site. It would be very difficult to find the sacred places, e.g. holy stones or trees without folk stories because of the weakness or missing of the cultural layer. We can assume that many stone graves and cemeteries have been found by archaeologists, just thanks to the folk stories or toponyms.

There are no folk stories about the ancient settlement sites and the fossile fields. Basically the same pattern appears when we talk about the two strongholds on the island: stories about them are not numerous and rather unimpressive. Oral tradition from Muhu shows very clearly the distinction between sacral and non-sacral or “profane” antiquities. The sacral ones, like ancient cemeteries, offering places etc. have a strong reflection in the oral tradition but the others do not.



Mauri Kiudsoo – Tõrise treasury

On September 18 in 1999 a silver hoard was brought to light in the potato field of Jaanimatsi farm, located in village Tõrise in Kaarma parish. Besides ornaments and items used for hiding, all in all 2845 coins that belong to the find are preserved in the Saaremaa Museum.

Judging by the coins that have reached the collection of the museum, the Tõrise archaeological find has been hidden at the beginning of the 1620-ties (tpq 1621). It dates from the period when Estonia was ravaged by big wars. Hundreds of money findings containing tens of thousands coins have been found from that period. The unexceptionally big number of the finds can be explained by the fact that in these wars most of the Estonian inhabitants perished. Saaremaa, ruled by Denmark in the period of 1559–1645, suffered comparatively less than the mainland from direct war activities. So far the author of this article has managed to find out only six archaeological finds containing valuables in Saaremaa that date back to the II half of the 16th century and the I quarter of the 17th century.

Similar to the other Estonian coin finds, hidden in the 1620-ties, the majority of the Tõrise find is made up by the killings stamped by the King of Poland Sigismund III in Riga. What makes the Tõrise treasure specific is that there can be found the coins that were still current at the end of the 16th century and in the first decade of the 17th century. One of the reasons why coins of different ages were found in Tõrise village can be the fact that actually two finds of different periods were picked up. It is known that the coins were found both in a bronze pot and a leather purse. This is still a hypothesis which can’t be proved because the coin finds of the 1620ties are centred in South-Estonia; it means, hoards found from neighbourhood are missing.

Most of the coins that make up the Tõrise find have been current in Estonia. Among Russian copecks made of wire are also two false coins completed in Norway and four so-called rolled coins. The latter ones have probably been used as ornaments. In connection with Estonia is especially interesting one small coin that has been stamped in the United Provinces of the Northern Netherlands and supplied with contramark.


Kersti Lust – The sale of farms into perpetuity on Saaremaa in the period of 1865–1905

One of the main features of the development of capitalism in Estonian villages in the 2nd half of the 19th century was the sale of farms into perpetuity, which resulted in the emergence of bourgeois landownership by the farmers. The process of sale and purchase of farms on Saaremaa (Oesel) has not been studied yet. Therefore the aim of this essay is to provide a short account of that process in the period of 1865–1905 and to explain the special features it had on Saaremaa. For the research, sources mainly from the Estonian Historical Archives were used.

The agrarian reform of 1865 granted the peasants, living on private estates the right to buy from the landlords into perpetual ownership the land they used. According to the law it was up to the landlords to decide when, on which conditions and with whom to conclude the purchase contracts. The only restriction was to offer the farmstead firstly to its former master. By 1898, only 112 households of different types (including 2 small manors) were sold and among the owners a considerable number was not of peasant origin. By 1908, only 14,3% of farmland was bought, while already at the end of the 19th century the respective numbers in South-Estonia were 86,4% and in North-Estonia 50,4%. Though the number of peasant landowners increased to a certain extent at the beginning of the 20th century, it were the revolutionary events of 1905 that brought about the major change in the process under discussion.

In order to pay money rent and to buy the farmsteads the peasants had to obtain enough money. It forced them to produce more for the market. But this was rather difficult since the fields were small and the quality of soil poor. Money rent was expanding slowly. To find additional sources of income, many peasants had to search for seasonal work outside the island of Saaremaa. Also the land consolidation was carried out later than elsewhere in Estonia. The landlords had to take into consideration the inability of farmers to find money resources. It was not so much the conservatism of the local landlords, than the resistance of the peasants resulting from their poverty that determined the course of the process of sale of the farms on Saaremaa.



Harry Tuulik – Writer August Mälk from the genealogical viewpoint

The life and works of the classic of Estonian literature August Mälk, born in Western Saaremaa, have been studied quite thoroughly. But up to now a genealogical research of his distant ancestors was missing. Now Harry Tuulik, an amateur genealogist from Saaremaa has completed it on the basis of archival materials.

The most distant forefather of the writer who was found out, called Rixo Rein, had been born around 1650. It became clear that all the ancestors both from father’s and mother’s side originated from quite a small territory – the western part of Lümanda commune. The only exception was A. Mälk’s great-grandmother Sarapikko Ann, who had been born in the neighbouring commune. At the same time the author did not find any remotest mutual family bonds between the writer’s ancestors although in the 17th–19th century these bonds were quite spread on such a small territory. There are also no foreigners with excotical origin among his forefathers although it had been assumed earlier.

One of the most loved prose writers in Estonia August Mälk descends from the Western Saaremaa peasantry, whereby among his ancestors are the representatives of the dynasties of traditional farmers and also of the poorer class of people.



Maret Soorsk – The town houses of lords of manor in Kuressaare

Beginning from the end of the 18th century the country squires of Saaremaa started building houses in Kuressaare to take part in the cultural life of the town in winter time. Local Estonians began to call them koda (an archaic word for house) of the corresponding manor house; this way differentiating them from other buildings in town. In the other towns of Estonia such name tradition is missing.

In the article is given a review of the location of the squires’ houses – koda (chamber) in Kuressaare, their owners, and some of the more remarkable buildings are introduced more closely. All in all 33 buildings known as a squire’s koda have been found out. The location of seven of them is unknown; four of the remaining 26 have been totally ruined. As a rule these are stone houses situated in the town centre. 20 of these houses had been marked on the town plan from the year 1786, but apparently most of the country squires purchased their town houses not before the 19th century. In the written word we find the word koda in the meaning of the town house first in 1865.

The most noteworthy houses of the preserved ones are Lööne koda – the police prefecture nowadays, Meedla – the residence of Estonian Bank, new Meedla or Võhksa – town theatre, Kuivastu – hotel “Daissy”, Kõljala – music school, and the “squires’ koda” which belonged to the Nobility of Saaremaa – a county government building now.



Edgar Grünberg – Chevaliers of Cross of Freedom coming from Saaremaa

The Cross of Freedom is the first Estonian Order of Merits that was founded during the War of Independence in 1919 to mark the services in the fight for independence. The Cross of Freedom has three categories: I – for military services, II – for personal bravery displayed in battles, III – for civil services. All these categories can be divided into three ranks (1., 2., 3.). Up to now 3220 Crosses of Freedom have been awarded to 3134 persons in all, 2077 of whom are Estonian citizens. 57 of them come from Saaremaa – they have either been born or grown up here.

In the writing is given a list of islanders – recipients of the award together with summary biographical and statistical data. Among 57 men 16 were officers, 35 were other military men and 6 of them were civilians. Seven men fell in the War of Independence or died in the wounds got in the war, eight men died in Estonia, one abroad before 1940, 12 in Estonia during the following occupations; in the World War II three men lost their life, 13 men were the victims of the Soviet repressions; eight men died in exile.

The first rank Cross of Freedom (III/1) has been given to only one islander – the outstanding diplomat and folklorist Oskar Philipp Kallas (1868–1946). Liutenant commander Jaan Klaar (1889–1943), commander of the gun boat “Lembit” is the only islander awarded with three Crosses of Freedom (II/2, II/3, I/3); lieutenant colonel Johannes Poopuu (1886–1929), chief of staff of the armoured train division with two crosses (I/2, II/2). The second rank of the award (I/2) has also been presented to the colonels Peeter Kann (1883–1943), one of the organizers of the Estonian Army and Defence Union, and Arthur von Buxhoeveden (1882–1964), the main organizer of the Estonian cavalry. The remaining 52 islanders have been awarded with the Cross of Freedom of the third rank.



Toomas Hiio – Students from Saaremaa in Tartu University 1918–1944

The article treats the persons, born in Saaremaa, who were matriculated in Tartu University from the II term in 1918 until the I term in 1944. The basis of the statistical analysis is the data base Album Academicum Universitatis Tartuensis 1918–1944 that was accomplished in 1994 and later amplified.

Out of 20092 students, matriculated in this period, 359 or 1,79% had been born in Saaremaa. The percentage of townpeople was comparatively high among the students from Saaremaa – even 2/5 of them came from Kuressaare, the only town in the county; all the others divide quite evenly between all communes. The number of people (233) who acquired secondary education on the home island was higher than on average, but the percentage of female students (20,34%) was lower (32,67% on average in the university). 12,8% of islanders have been matriculated as non-Estonians; the number is smaller than the percentage of non-Estonians in the university on the whole. The division of islanders by specialities is close to the division of all students. Socially most of the students – about a quarter – came from farmers’ families. 170 islanders belonged to student organisations, most of all to the corporations Rotalia and Fraternitas Estica.

To sum up, the author claims that the number of students from Saaremaa in Tartu University was relatively small (inhabitants of Saaremaa made up almost 5% of the Estonian population), but a number of outstanding scientists grew out among them. Because of the complicated times at the end of the period, more than half of all and also students from Saaremaa were lost for Estonia – perished in prison camps and World War II or were forced to stop their studies.

As a supplement of the article the brief biographical data of all the 359 students from Saaremaa have been given.


Katrin Äär – Clerical journalism in Saaremaa before 1940

Clerical journalism has been one of the means to spread the Christian message. Before 1918 all in all 21 Estonian clerical periodical publications came out in Estonia and Livonia, but in the years 1918–40 already 111. Before 1940 six different periodicals with clerical contents (one of them changed its name while published) were issued in Saaremaa. Besides eight more clerical journals were printed in the printing shops of Kuressaare for a short period; their place of publication was mainland.

At the end of 1899 Ludwig Masing, pastor of Kihelkonna congregation was given a permission to publish the texts of cermons “”Church Bells” or Tracts of Cermon” in Estonian. Later the name of the publication was changed and in the years 1913–17 and 1921–31 it was issued under the headline “Golden Branches of Arbor Vitae: Tracts of Cermon”.

The 1930ties was the heyday of publishing clerical journalism in Estonia. Even a couple of congregations in Saaremaa had their own newspaper, but for various reasons they came out for quite a short time. The Estonian Methodist Church took its rise in 1907 in Kuressaare. The congregation, which was formally founded in 1910, published its own journal in the years 1935–36 and the youth association of the congregation also issued its publication in 1934. The Estonian methodists also had their national newspaper “Christian Guardian” (1920–40), whose founder and long-time editor was Martin Prikask, an active publisher of clerical literature. In the years 1920–23 and 1928–33 “Christian Guardian” came out in Kuressaare.

Two free congregations, separated from the Lutheran Church also published their journals where they tried to turn attention to the shortcomings of church life and to propagate their principles more widely. In the years 1929–34 Nikolai Bäuerle published the journal “Lutheran” in Kuressaare and in 1934 Alfred Kliimann-Tõeleid edited the journal “Free Church” in Mustjala.

The article gives a brief survey of the origin and publication of the editions, whereby no thorough analysis of the contents is given. A bibliographical list of the clerical journalism, which has come out and printed in Saaremaa before 1940 is published as a supplement.


Manivalde Jõgi – Boat refugees from Lümanda and Kihelkonna communes in 1944

In 1944 up to 80.000 people fled from Estonia to the West from the oncoming new Soviet occupation. There were 5000–6000 local refugees from Saaremaa. In the report, delivered at Kuressaare Maritime Days on 7 August 1999, amateur historian Manivalde Jõgi (1926–2000) treats the flight from two communes of Western Saaremaa – Lümanda and Kihelkonna.

521 people (15% of the population) fled from Kihelkonna commune, 307 people (10%) from Lümanda. One of the reasons for fleeing was the communist repressions experienced in 1941: already then 127 people from these communes had been deported to Siberia; 47 of them perished. 14 innocent men had been arrested and they all were either murdered or perished in prison camps. The percentage of refugees was the highest on the small island Vilsandi – 98 people or 64% of the population. Small ships, sailing boats and motorboats were mainly used for fleeing, but even rowboats were used to flee from the other parts of Saaremaa. The destination of most of the refugees was Sweden; only 14 people are known to have headed for Germany in 1944. The flight to Sweden started in the summer of 1943 already, at the end of September 1944 people were fleeing in large numbers. The nearer the Red Army came, the more liberal were the German military about fleeing.

The writing is mainly based on questioning local people whose colourful memories also have been written down.


David Papp – Flight to West

The Estonian historian David Papp (born in 1937 in Rakvere), residing in Sweden, has put down his memories of the flight to Sweden from Saaremaa by boat in the autumn of 1944. He writes about the reception of refugees and the first years spent in Sweden. As his mother Meta Papp (born in 1908 Kahu) came from Saaremaa, the whole family settled down in Kuressaare in the 1930ties; his father Paul Papp (1908–97) was a successful entrepreneur here.

The flight of the Papps’ four-member family started in a motorboat together with some twenty fellow sufferers on the 1 October 1944 from Atla in Western Saaremaa. They reached Gotland over the stormy Baltic Sea on October 3. D. Papp describes colourfully the preparations for the flight, obtaining and repairing a boat, the fate of other relatives and acquaintances, a lucky meeting with a Swedish coastal patrol vessel. Then followed the refugee’s life in Visby, Kisa and Söderköping and the first years of establishing themselves in Turinge and Södertälje. Estonian new settlers managed to adapt to the foreign society surprisingly easily; it happened also because everywhere in Sweden they were treated favourably and hospitably by the authorities and inhabitants.

The memoirs also include a list of Estonians with whom the Papp family were in contact or corresponded during the first years of exile.


Konstantin Sepp – the victim and partner of the Soviet power

The publication is a translation from Konstantin Sepp’s (1895–1941[?]) autobiography that he himself wrote from 17 to 23 April in 1941 being a prisoner of KGB. It includes interesting memories of the different stages of K. Sepp’s comparatively chequered course of life. He participated in the World War I, was taken a prisoner of war, for a long time worked on leading posts in the Estonian Border Guard; in the years 1934–39 was the head of Kihelkonna commune in Western Saaremaa and a well-known public figure in local political organisations. No wonder that a person with such a career was arrested in March 1941 by the KGB organs.

From the other side this document is very interesting as a reflection of the history of mentality and the author’s psychology, as a story of a man’s degeneration. Being a naive person with weak character, K. Sepp quickly assented to “witness” and inform his interrogators of everything that they expected from him, thus hoping to save his life. His testimonies were used against almost all the distinguished people of Kihelkonna. The changes in the contests of K. Sepp’s testimonies that took place in a week, also vividly reflect the working methods of the KGB organs.

These simple-hearted testimonies and denunciations naturally did not help Konstantin Sepp – the tribunal sentenced him to death on 23 June 1941 already and he was soon executed, probably in Tallinn. The translator of the document Mart Arold writes: “He was not any special historical personality. He was a man with his good and bad traits, but he had very chequered and highly didactic fate. Therefore, following his course of life we can get quite a comprehensive picture of some sides in the life of our nation between the two big wars.”