Restoration work at Tallinn's largest extant historical defensive structure has yielded plenty of surprises for archaeologists. These have included human remains dating back to the middle ages, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reports.
The Skoone Bastion, known in Estonian as Rannamägi, was the most formidable defensive structures erected at a time when Estonia was under Swedish rule, in the 17th century.
Visitors to and even residents of the capital could have been forgiven for missing it, up to now, however, since the former fortress had long lain in a state of dereliction, beneath an overgrown park just outside the gates of the Old Town and kitty corner opposite from the Paks Margareeta ("Fat Margaret") tower.
The seashore would have been adjacent to this area at that time, much of the few hundred meters in the direction of the Old City Ferry Harbor is made up of reclaimed land.
The area, including the park, has been subject to lengthy renovation works more recently, and so more of the Skoone Bastion's secrets have been given up; the 400-meter-plus seaward wall remains intact, though restoration work is taking place at present.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Madle Lippus (SDE) said: "The final stage will take place next year and will see the final segment of the wall being restored," said
So far, the work has yielded some interesting finds to experts.
City of Tallinn archaeologist Ragnar Nurk said: "Perhaps from a historical context, it is exciting that we have human bones from the earth excavated from the slopes of Rannamäe tee, which skirts the bastion to the South.
"These related to the St. Gertrude's chapel (Gertrudi kabel), which was situated in front of the major sea gate in the middle ages, and which also incorporated a cemetery," he went on.
Whose remains they are is not clear, though, Nurk said, they could easily be those of either sailors or military men, or of local Kalamaja residents.
Other finds include two tunnels whose existence was hitherto unknown to archaeologists.
The tunnels have also attracted the interest of bats, who have established themselves there, though, Deputy Mayor Lippus said, it is not clear whether they were already there or arrived once the tunnels were opened up.
"In any case, the restoration works have significantly improved their habitat for them," Lippus added.
The Skoone Bastion in the past has hosted restaurants, concert venues and theaters, and it is hoped may do again in future once the restoration work is complete.
While it is not yet clear whether the bastion interior will be opened to visitors. However, a new staircase will be built on the bastion during the year, which will connect the bastion to the city. In the long run, it is also possible to restore the old moat.
Estonia was under Swedish rule from the late 16th Century until the Great Northern War of the early 18th Century, and the period was noted for various developments, including the foundation of the University of Tartu.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'