Excursions

Wednesday, the third day of the conference, is devoted to excursions in both Estonia and Finland.

The pandemic situation has made the future very unpredictable and plans for excursions may be subject to change.

Excursions and Travel between Countries

The confernce will organize travel for all participants between countries.

Remember to make your hotel reservation according to the country of your excursion day.

If you will spend Wednesday in Finland, you will stay in Finland on Tuesday night.

If you will spend Wednesday in Estonia, you will stay in Estonia on Tuesday night.

If you plan to participate in a Wednesday excursion by bus in Finland, you should plan to remain in Finland on Tuesday night and go to a meeting point with your luggage on Wednesday morning. Your luggage will be loaded onto the bus, which will take you on the excursion. The same bus will take your luggage on the ferry that evening and then the same bus will drop participants at selected hotels in Tallinn.

If you plan to participate in a Wednesday walking excursion in Finland or wish to remain independently in Finland on that day, you will go to a meeting point with your luggage after the excursion and a bus will take your luggage on the ferry and  then the same bus will drop participants at selected hotels in Tallinn.

If you plan to participate in a Wednesday excursion in Estonia, you will go to a meeting point with your luggage on Tuesday evening. Your luggage will be loaded onto the bus, which will take your luggage on the ferry and then the same bus will drop participants at selected hotels in Tallinn. You will then go to a meeting point for the excursion on Wednesday morning.

Participants not participating in an organized excursion in either Finland or Estonia may, when registering for the conference, choose to travel either with the group on Tuesday or with the group on Wednesday. You are of course also welcome to be responsible for arranging your own travel between countries.

Excursions in Finland

(Medieval) Turku/Åbo (full-day excursion): Turku is the oldest town in Finland, established in the 13th century. The town functioned as the administrative center of Finland during the Swedish regime and became the seat of the bishopric. Participants will travel by bus first to the excavation site at Ristimäki, where remains of a cemetery and a building were found, potentially a church dating from the mid-12th century. After that the group will travel to Turku for lunch before visiting Turku's medieval castle and its cathedral.

Porvoo/Borgå (full-day excursion): Porvoo is the second oldest town in Finland, which got its privileges around 1380. This picturesque town is situated only one hour’s drive from Helsinki. The excursion will take you to the home museum of the Finnish national poet J.L. Runeberg, to the old town that still has the medieval town plan, and to Porvoo's medieval cathedral. Lunch will be served during the excursion. There will also be time to visit the numerous little boutiques and cafés in Povoo's Old Town.

Suomenlinna/Sveaborg (half-day excursion): Suomenlinna is a fortress built on the islands just off Helsinki in the mid-18th century. The fortress belongs to UNESCO World Heritage list. A ferry will take you to Suomenlinna and you will get a guided tour through the fortress. After that you will have time to look at the island on your own and visit its museums and cafés.

Hämeenlinna/Tavastehus and nearby archaeological sites (full-day excursion): Hämeenlinna was established by the Swedish Crown in order to secure its position in the inland area of Finland in the 13th century. The excursion will take you fist to the medieval church of Hattula just north of Hämeenlinna. After the lunch there will be a guided tour in the Hämeenlinna Castle. The castle made of brick is unique in Finland.

Excursions in Estonia

Ancient and medieval Tallinn and its surroundings (full-day excursion): Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was established as a Hanseatic town in 1248. It has always had a strong Nordic connection, having been founded by Danes and ruled by Swedes for a long time. However, the surrounding area is also rich in Viking Age finds and the Bay of Tallinn was probably an important node on the Austrvegr. The excursion will start. First, a bus excursion will take us to Iru Iron Age hill-fort and the Convent of St. Brigitta in Pirita. The bus will eventually take us to the Old Town and the excursion will continue as a walking tour.

Rågö/Pakri islands (full-day excursion): Lilla Rågö and Stora Rågö (now Väike-Pakri and Suur-Pakri) are two small islands near Tallinn that were inhabited by Swedish speakers from the 13th century until 1944. During the Soviet occupation the islands were used as military training grounds, but since Estonia regained its independence a few of the original inhabitants and their descendants have returned from Sweden to try and bring back life to the islands. The excursion will start on Wednesday morning from Tallinn (participants are expected to take the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn on Tuesday evening). We will board a small ship from Paldiski to reach the islands. Transport on the islands will be on a motorized vehicle. We will see ruins of old villages and chapels as well as local efforts to re-establish life and community on the islands. Participants are advised to wear clothes suited for hiking and be prepared for slightly austere conditions. We will return to Tallinn on Wednesday evening in time for dinner. (Max. registration: 15 persons)

Post-Conference tours (Saturday and Sunday)

A post-conference excursion will depart from Tallinn early on Saturday, dividing into two groups on alternative routes that will be united later on the island of Saaremaa/Ösel, where the group will spend the night, then spending Sunday on Saaremaa followed by a return to Tallinn late on Sunday night. In the time of the pandemic, if registration proves too low to sustain alternative routes on Saturday, these may need to be combined.

Saturday, route A: Vormsi/Ormsö and the living local Swedish dialect. One group will travel from Tallinn by bus, including a trip by ferry, to the island of Vormsi. Vormsi was mainly inhabited by a Swedish-speaking population from the thirteenth century to 1944, developing its own, unique dialect and traditions. The bus will first take participants to historical sites on the island before lunch at the guesthouse of Elle-Mall Koppelmaa, a native speaker of the local Swedish dialect, with time reserved to talk with her following the meal. The bus will then take participants to additional sites on the island before returning to the mainland and travelling by ferry to Saaremaa, for a late dinner and stay at the hotel.

Saturday, route A: Noarootsi/Nuckö and other archaeological sites in Western Estonia. One group will travel from Tallinn first to Padise Abbey, which was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1310, dissolved in 1559, later used as a country house until 1766, and the ruins of which are now a museum. The group will travel on to Nuckö/Noarootsi, which was the center of the medieval Swedish population in Estonia, then an island, to see the village of Sutlepa village and its cemetery, which to some extent still reflects the atmosphere of its former Swedish settlers. The group will visit the Nuckö church and pastorage, with its small exhibition on the history of the local population, as well as the Birkas/Pürksi manor and Gymnasium, which is the only school in Estonia offering specialization in Nordic countries and Swedish language, making it a kind of centre for Nordic culture. Lunch will be in Haapsalu, where the group will briefly visit the Aibolands Museum/Rannarootsi muuseum/ Estlandssvenskarnas museum, with its exhibition of the history of Estonian Swedes as well as some old boats and ships. The trip will continue to the medieval castle Lihula, now in ruins, built on top of an Estonian hill-fort. Lihula was probably connected with the most important harbour-site in West Estonia, and the only Swedish action in the Livonian Crusades was to conquer the hill-fort in 1220, although they lost it in the same year to the Oselians. Lihula became the residence of the Bishop of Ösel-Viek for a short time in the 13th century, during which a small town started to develop around it, although the center moved to Haapsalu some decades later owing to its better harbour facilities. The group will then move on to Saaremaa for dinner and to check into the hotel.

Sunday: Saaremaa (including Salme, where Scandinavian boat burials were found). Groups from the separate routes on Saturday will be united on Sunday for a tour by bus of Saaremaa, Estonia’s largest island, beginning with Salme, where two Scandinavian boat burials from the eighth century have recently been excavated. From Salme, we will go to the Kuressaare castle, which is the best-preserved medieval castle in Estonia, and visit its museum with an exhibition of the history of Saaremaa. After lunch, we will move on to the excavated Tornimäe harbour site in eastern Saaremaa, dated as operating from the 8th to the 10th century. Then we will visit the Pöide hill-fort, which operated during the same period as the Tornimäe harbour, was abandoned after AD 1000, and then in use again from the 12th to the 14th century. We will also see the Pöide church, which is one of the oldest stone churches in Estonia, originally built in Romanesque style in 1230s and soon after that in the Gothic style, as well as the ruins of Pöide castle, built right next to the church by the Teutonic Order in the 13th century, and subsequently destroyed in the middle of the 14th century. We will follow the Teutonic Order’s move to where they built a new castle, Maasilinn, which is among the most likely candidates for King Valdemar II’s castle in 1222. Finally, we will visit the Valjala church and hill-fort. The Valjala stone church was probably built some years before Pöide, and a number of Estonian early Christian burials with numerous artefacts have been found in its 13th-century churchyard, especially from 1210. The hill-fort of Valjala is the only one built of stone (without mortar) on Saaremaa and its surrender is the last event described in the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia. We will then have a late dinner before driving back with a late arrival in Tallinn.