Construction work at the ruins of a Baltic Crusades-era castle in Ida-Viru County have revealed a cellar complex which had previously been unknown.
The 15th-century castle ruins at Vasknarva lie in the settlement of the same name, close to the border with Russia and at the point where the Narva River emerges from Peipsi Järv, flowing northwards from there to the Baltic.
Kalle Merilai, adviser at the regional branch of the heritage board (Muinsuskaitseamet), said that excavation work had started ahead of laying out a wooden platform to be used for social events during the summer months, in the shadows of the ruins (see gallery).
"During this excavations, a lot of interesting things came out," Merilai went on, including passages, steps and even a hypocaust system, used for heating.
The original castle was built in 1349, but was very short-lived, and ended up destroyed by citizens of Pskov, in the present-day Russian Federation. The stone-built replacement, built in 1427 onward by the Livonian Order of knights, didn't fare much better and was destroyed during the Livonian War of the sixteenth century. It was presumably sufficiently ruined not to be of any use militarily in the Great Northern War of 1700-1721, since it doesn't get any mention in contemporary accounts of the conflict.
The work also revealed river bank fortifications on the nearby Narva River, Kalle Merilai added, and the discoveries have presented a clearer picture of how the monolith would have looked in its hay-day, which would have included an outer wall formation (the extant ruins comprise the inner walls, he said).
Editor: Andrew Whyte