Horse riders from Marinu

Two small figurines of a horse rider were discovered in the Marinu village, Viru-Nigula local authority in the Lääne-Virumaa County.  The finds were discovered with the help of a metal detector; upon making the discovery the finder contacted the National Heritage Board. Ingmar Noorlaid, specialist of the National Heritage Board, inspected the site on January 3 2013.

The find site is situated on the Paepõllu property in the village of Marinu. The site was on a slightly higher area of the surrounding field.  Inspection of the site also revealed a cup-marked stone that so far had not been known.

One of the two figurines has been completely preserved but only a fragment has survived from the other.  A similar figurine was discovered in 1913, also in Viru-Nigula. The site, Ranna village, is located only six kilometres north of the Marinu village where the present discovery was made.

Ingmar Noorlaid

National Heritage Board

Archaeological and ethnological fieldworks in Setomaa in 1937 and 1938

On October 4 an international conference, dedicated to the results of archaeological and ethnological field works organized by the Museum of Man (Paris) in Setomaa, south-eastern Estonia in 1937 and 1938, took place in Värska (Setomaa). The fieldworks were initiated by the famous Russian emigrant writer, Leonid Zurov, and accompanied by Boris Vilde, the organizer of the Resistance movement in France during World War II. During these expeditions ca. 260 archaeological monuments were recorded and information about them, as well as numerous archaeological finds were delivered to the University of Tartu. The output of the fieldworks is also seen in 442 photos and 379 ethnological artefacts that reached the collections of the Museum of Man.  The most important documents of the fieldwork materials are two reports written by Zurov: a general survey (78 pages) and a report about the cult of stones, trees and springs in Setomaa (50 pages). These materials have not been available for the Estonian, Russian and Seto communities until recently.

The archaeological information collected by Zurov is extremely valuable source material and has been repeatedly used for finding archaeological monuments to present them to be protected by the state – both in the Estonian and Russian part of Setomaa.

During the conference, 15 papers concerning the results of the fieldworks of the 1930s were presented by Estonian, Russian and French speakers. The conference, greatly supported by the project “Archaeology, Authority and Community” took place in the framework of an international project launched by the National Natural History Museum (France) and established in cooperation with the University of Tartu, the Russian Museum of Ethnography and the Seto Institute. The aim of the project is to publish materials of the expedition. Three identical books of ca. 500 pages in Estonian, Russian and French are expected to be published in 2015. The books will contain, in addition to the published source materials, commenting articles from present-day researchers. The aim of the Värska conference was to prepare articles that will later be printed in the project output volume. On October 5th, meeting of the authors and editors took place:  practical and organizational questions concerning the publication were discussed.

The meeting was organised in Setomaa – the area of Zurov’s and Vilde’s fieldworks – with the aim to popularise archaeology among the Seto community and give feedback of the field works of 1937 and 1938. The conference, held in Värska Culture Centre, was attended by 54 participants from Tartu, St Petersburg and the Seto community, including the representatives of the community authorities and the museums of Setomaa. The conference was organised jointly by the University of Tartu and the Seto Institute. The aim of the forthcoming book is to popularise archaeology and to spread the field work results of 1937 and 1938 among the public, including the Estonain and Seto communities.

Heiki Valk

Archaeology Cabinet of the University of Tartu

Archaeological monuments of Palkino district

Within the project «Archeology, authority and community: cooperation to protect archaeological heritage» the main priority is the preservation of general archaeological heritage of border territories of Pskov region and Latvia and Estonia. In July-August 2012 the staff of Independent Non-Profit Organization «Pskov Archaeological Center» carried out the inspection of 60 archaeological monuments in Palkino district of Pskov region which again became a boundary district in 1992.

The archaeological monuments which are in the territory of Palkino district reflect the civilization history of Eastern Europe from Mesolithic period to 17th century AD. Unfortunately for the last 30 years many settlements ceased to exist, the former farmland overgrew with the wood, transport communications of local value disappeared, but the main thing which is considerably lost is the oral folk tradition that enables historical and archaeological monuments to be discovered. Under such circumstances it’s rather complicated to discover new archaeological objects which Palkino district is very rich with and those objects which would promote further studies of history of Pskov region. But nevertheless even in such conditions during their expeditions archeologists reveal new, previously unknown monuments and estimate the condition of already known archaeological objects.

One of the most interesting and most beautiful places in Palkino district is Belaya Struga lake, which together with Chyornoe and Shchadritskoye lakes, make the lake system of the glacial origin. On the east high shore of Belaya Struga lake the earliest monuments of archeology relating to late Mesolithic and early Neolithic (6000-5000 BC) have been found. Four sites of the Stone Age have been fixed according to the finds of microlites (tiny stone plates served as arrow-heads and set-in blades in bone or horn knives) and potsherds with pinched decoration. The vicinities of the lake were inhabited even at the end of 2000 BC as on the sites such objects as a paste bead, a small copper awl, pottery with banding ornament and a fragment of a stone polishing axe have been found. The separate finds relating to the Stone Age are known from near former villages Devino, Turova Gora and Gribuli, in the head of the river Struglitsa and near the village New Usitva.

Borohnovo hill fort
View of the central part of Palkinskiy district from Veretya mountain

From the middle to the 2nd half 1000 AD the Borohnovo hill fort was the settling center in the middle current of the river Kudeb. The excavations carried out on it were able to reveal a powerful cultural layer which contains the remains of a residential building up and fortification. Such monuments as burial grounds with long barrows near villages Bungino, Kuznechenki, Demeshi, Medvedkovo, Leshchikhino, Yarlyki, barrows on the shores of Beloye and Mogilnoye lakes, a burial ground near village Somulino, burial hills in villages Sopki and Vanino belong to the same time. With the same layer of antiquities it seems justified to connect cult objects as a worshiping stone on Veretya mountain, the stone near barrow group in Bungino and the stone with the beaten-out circles near village Kolchino. On the surface of the huge boulder located on the northern plateau of Veretya mountain a small X-shaped cross with deepening in the center is cut, and on a stone in Bungino 2 cone-shaped openings are cut. On the second stone in Bungino (which is in several meters from the first stone) on a flat surface man-made (?) flat hollows have been fixed. Folk legends are connected with these stones. The stone with the schematic image of a hoof was found near the barrow in Medvedkovo.

Barrow on the bank of Lake Beloye
Long barrow near village Bungino
X – shaped cross with deepening on a cult stone on Veretya mountain

The ancient settlement site Kolbezhitskiy, the largest rural settlement among known in the region appeared not later than the 2nd half of 1000 AD. In the written sources of the 15th-17th centuries it is known as the Kolbezhitskiy churchyard. The total area of distribution of the cultural layer, which is more than 10 hectares, really impresses. During the excavation the fragments of hand-made smooth-wall pottery, fragments of hand-made pottery with a “textile” ornament were found and also numerous finds of the 12th–17th centuries. Besides the ancient settlement of Kolbezhitskiy in the 12th–13th  centuries settlements on the place of the Smolinskiy country churchyard in Palkino, in Novaya Usitva, in Bekhterev, in Synitsy, Sopry, Medvedkovo, near villages Melnitsa, Shchadritsy, etc already existed. By 16th century the majority of settlements of the area indicated on the maps of the beginning of the 20th century were created. The centers of rural volosts (gubs) were churchyards. Besides Smolinskiy, Novousitovskiy and Kolbezhitskiy those were Lokno, Muraveyno (near modern village Rokotovo), Staraja Usitva (modern Krukovo), Chirski (modern Eremino) and Kochanova Sloboda (modern Kachanovo).

Special monuments of archeology are funeral monuments. Among the monuments of the 11th–13th centuries there are barrow burial grounds with hemispherical low mounds. The barrows containing finds of this time are known at village Gorbovo and in settlement Palkino. Not dug out burial grounds of this kind are fixed near village Zapolye (former Barza), Nosovo and Lugovitsy.

A particular type of funeral monuments are zhalnic cemeteries (mounds imposed with stones) appeared in the district of Pskov in the 2nd half of 11th century. In the territory of the area these are burial grounds near villages Krashnyakovo, Korovkino (urochishche Sebezh), Zapolye 2 (former Barza), Ponkratovo, Senchinovo (destroyed). The burial grounds weren’t investigated archaeologically therefore the time of their existence isn’t established. Zhalnichnye burial grounds are often accompanied by finds of stone crosses (in Pskov-Izborsk region they were made generally of limestone). Stone crosses aren’t always connected with burial grounds but can help to find them. As zhalnic burial grounds were often transformed into rural cemeteries, it is possible to find stone crosses «in situ» («on the place»), i.e. on modern rural cemeteries. In the territory of the district stone crosses and socket-stones have been revealed near villages Bungino, Sergino, Eliseevo, Zaytsevo, Lugovitsy, Mikhalevo, Varnitsy, Veretye, Raikhino, urochishche Sebezh, Usy, Shurpalovo, Usadishche, Harlapkovo, Sukhlovo, in Palkino settlement

Stone cross near village Varnitsy

Sometimes during agricultural or construction works burials having no signs on the surface of the earth are found by chance. “Soil” burial grounds are noted near Leontyevo and Belushi villages, near the churchyard Chirskoy. Such finds as twisted bracelets, spiral and lamellar rings, neck rings, breast chains with pendants and others are known from them.  Soil burials were opened during archaeological investigation on the burial ground in Nova Usitva. The places called “burial grounds” are fixed near villages Mikhalevo, Filatovo (urochishche Bokatura), Ershevo, Eliseevo, and Kolchino.

The work which has been carried out in the district will become the basis for preparing articles, issuing brochures, developing tourist routes which include archaeological monuments. The materials received as a result of the district investigation  will be available not only for archeologists and historians of the countries of the project participants of the but also for everyone who is interested in preserving historical and cultural heritage.


Kharlashov B. N.,

PhD, INO «Pskov Archaeological Center»