Project news

Aerial reconnaissance in Northern and Eastern Estonia

On April 22, the National Heritage Board (Partner 2) carried out aerial reconnaissance in Northern and Eastern Estonia. One of the 30 inspected sites was Naistevälja grave-field. The probably Bronze Age stone graves are located mostly on a field, but during a field inspection in the beginning of April a small team of archaeologists – Maria Smirnova, Anu Kivirüüt, Ingmar Noorlaid and Tõnno Jonuks, also inspected the woodland areas to update the current situation with sketches from the first half of 20th century.

Aerial reconnaissance supplemented well the previous day-long search in the brushwood. We ascertained that at least eleven graves had been preserved rather intact and we were also able to identify several graves with the ones depicted on early plans. Unfortunately, not all of the imaged graves have been preserved; some stone heaps had been toted apart and in some fortunate cases, merely the bases of the former mounds were observable. Several previously found mounds were visible from the air and in addition to being an exciting experience the plane inspection was very helpful, especially in determining the grave-field borders and understanding the landscape.

The grave-field appeared definitely larger than we first thought and deserves both national protection and archaeological investigations. During aerial reconnaissance expert Tanel Moora turned our attention to some other areas nearby where the grave-field might extend and should be inspected. Further results may prove that Naistevälja grave-field covers an area larger than previously known.

PP 2


Seminar in Aluksne

Seminar “Historical evidence of underwater in Latvia and Aluksne” was taken place in Aluksne last week. During the seminar we were be able to meet and learn more about underwater archaeology and find out details about diving equipment and take part in demonstrations. The seminar was led by professional divers, who got both diving and underwater archaeology certificates.
Underwater archaeologists inspected the historical bridge site into Aluksne lake. Research work was filmed. Filming is one of the underwater research methods, providing a visual picture of the studied object. Assembled film later will be seen in Alūksnes museum.

Maintenance on Jaagupi tarand-grave

On May 10th, the National Heritage Board in cooperation with Nõo Parish Council organized a maintenance day to trim the surroundings of Nõo Jaagupi tarand-graves. There were not many participants, but the team was big enough and well equipped to clean and tidy the area in only a few hours.

The smaller grave (registry no 12907) was covered with brushwood. The area was cleared with a brushcutter and cleaned to make the small stony heap a little bit more visible. This is a smaller tarand-grave which has not been excavated yet and is presented just the way one and a half millennia have preserved it.

The larger grave (registry no 12908) is one of the best known tarand –graves in Estonia. The volunteers cut down several large bushes and small trees to prevent them from destroying the grave construction or blocking the view. The old information stand was re-erected, but soon there will be a brand new display both in Estonian and English.

The smaller tarand-grave, almost cleaned.

After the first half hour, the pickup was full of cut branches and brushwood.

The locals were well equipped and enthusiastic!

We even had time for a small presentation and talk.

Tarand-graves became inherent to Estonia 8th century BC, but the grave type started spreading in southern Estonia only in 2nd– 3rd centuries AD, during the peak of Roman Empire. These conjoined stone rectangles served as the final resting place until 5th century. 

The larger grave has been fully excavated: already in 1887, archaeologists from St. Petersburg, Pavel Viskovatov and Georg Loeschke conducted excavations on the grave. Some years later, in 1933-1935 and 1938, Estonian archaeologists Harri Moora, Artur Vassar and Erna Ariste excavated the whole grave. The grave consisted of ten conjoined tarands and their building had probably begun from the west as older objects were in the western and newer artefacts spread more in the eastern part of the grave. The tarands were filled with smaller stones, the finds and cremated bones were scattered in between the fill. Some bones had been preserved in pits into which they had been deposited.

This is how we left the larger grave – nice and cleaned…

…and the board well visible from the road!

Anu Kivirüüt

National Heritage Board