Crimean war battery excavated in Tallinn

Depiction of shelling of Bomarsund by Edwin T. Dolby/William Simpson. After the loss of this fortress, Tsarist Russia built up Tallinn's fortifications.
Depiction of shelling of Bomarsund by Edwin T. Dolby/William Simpson. After the loss of this fortress, Tsarist Russia built up Tallinn's fortifications. Source: / Wikimedia Commons

Remains of a Crimean War era artillery battery have been found during central Tallinn road construction.

The mid-19th century remains were found at Uus-Sadama Street, near the ferry harbour, during preparation for the new Reidi Road link between the harbour and the Pirita Road/Narva Highway junction to the east.

Archaeologists have used historical plans and maps in both locating and verifying the site.

Not a chance find

''The [Veejuhtme (Water conduit) Battery] location was known, so it was covered in the Reidi Road construction plans,'' Ragnar Nurk, archaeologist at Tallinn city planning department, told daily Postimees.

''The tender allowed for digging shafts; one of these yielded objects of interest,'' Mr. Nurk continued.

The find is not unique, but facilitates closer study of the era's artefacts.

Sheds light on era

"Many waterfront artillery batteries from this era existed, but were often short-lived, so we previously didn't have much information before now,'' he continued.

3D modelling of the area was due last week, though battery structures ran deeper than expected.

"Battery construction was revealed over a slightly wider than expected area deeper down; archaeologists are still removing the top layers get a clearer picture,'' Mr. Nurk went on.

Fortress Tallinn

Artillery batteries were built in Tallinn, then under Tsarist rule, after Russia lost the Bomarsund fortress on the Baltic Åland /Ahvenanmaa Islands to Franco-British naval forces in August 1854.

"Russia was stunned by the loss of Bomardsund, so started fortifying Tallinn, said historian Robert Treufeldt. 

''The Kaupmeeste (Merchants) Battery was built around this time. The recently-found Battery was located on a conduit running along present-day Vesivarava Street,'' he went on.

Keiti Randoja, chief on-site archaeologist, said that a mixture of birch bark and bituminous waterproofing was used in the presumably damp location.

"A soot hatch with a brass knob, a fully intact bottle with a two letter marks on the bottom, and some ceramics," are the only items found so far, Ms. Randoja said.

Not holding up road work

The dig is not hindering construction, or vice versa, said Reio Vesiallik, deputy head of the Tallinn public utility services department.

"Work on the new Reidi Road goes on. We knew to expect finds like this, so started the project early to mitigate delays," Mr. Vesiallik said

Construction in central Tallinn often yields archaeological hoards. A residential site in nearby Kalamaja this summer led to a find of around 20,000 late-medieval artefacts.

The Crimean War (1853-1856) saw the Russian Empire defeated by an alliance of Ottoman Turkey, France, Britain and Sardinia.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BNS

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