Archeologists have unearthed a gallows structure in a residential district of Haapsalu in northwest Estonia, only the second such find in the country.
“The walls are made from limestone, while bricks and quarry stone has been used inside. The diameter of the gallows hill is around ten meters,” Martin Malve, who headed the excavations, told ETV on Tuesday.
The other gallows hill was discovered in Tallinn, at the site of the current Swedbank building on Liivalaia street.
Five metal coins from the 16th century were also found at the site, as were bone and clay pot fragments. The same area was excavated in the 1930s when archeologists found two skeletons and parts of the walls, but they did not conclude that the site was used for executions.
Liivi Varul, who participated in the current excavations, told ERR News that the hill was constructed in two phases and the internal, wooden part, could be even older.
She added that the Haapsalu hill is noticeable for its large size, but other, smaller gallows probably existed in other towns in the area and on larger manors nearby.
Prominent historian and archeologist Mati Mandel wrote in 1995 that during the Middle Ages in Estonia, many different methods of execution were used, including boiling, frying and burning, mostly depending on the crime. Burying alive was reserved for women and hanging for men. The most honorable way to be executed was by beheading.
Mandel said that over a hundred skeletons were found near the Tallinn gallows, many as young as 13. He added that many Estonian farmers who led or participated in uprisings met their end at the Haapsalu gallows.