Georg Haggrén & Henrik Jansson
NEW LIGHT ON THE COLONISATION OF NYLAND/UUSIMAA
Western Nyland/Uusimaa during the late Iron
Age and Medieval Period. Settlement history from the viewpoint of
archaeology, history, biology and geology (Project 2003-2005)
Especially the late
Iron Age but even the medieval period is a poorly known period in
the history of the coast and archipelago of southern Finland. The
archival sources are scarce and the hitherto known archaeological
finds are, if possible, even rarer. Through combining historical
and archaeological research we can get more information about Nyland/Uusimaa
during this period. Besides the traditional humanistic sciences
there are other disciplines, which have proven to be very useful
in researching prehistoric and early historic periods. In our project
several disciplines are also combined. These include archaeology
and history, as well as environmental sciences such as geology and
palynology.  The
primary aims are to investigate the development of the environment
and the human activities, resource utilization and settlement history
of the area with an emphasis on maritime adaptations and the utilization
of the archipelagic resources. This includes e.g. occupation, harbour,
navigation, subsistence and ritual activities.
The traditional view
According to the traditional
archaeological view the future province of Nyland ('New Land’) had
been sparsely populated during the Iron Age and during the 10th
century the population disappeared totally. According to the traditional
historical view, the coastal zone was not populated until the 12th
and 13th centuries, when the Swedes colonised new areas
to the east of the Baltic Sea.
 The subsistence strategies of these Iron Age populations
would have been based on agriculture and little weight has been
given to the maritime aspect of this population, in other words
how they utilized the direct coastal and archipelagic zones. For
the archaeologists one problem has been the lack of fieldwork in
these areas of Nyland, and possibly because of this no settlement
or harbour from the prehistoric and early medieval period was known
in the coastal area before the 1990’s.
The integration of Nyland/Uusimaa into a part
of the Swedish realm
The province of Nyland/Uusimaa
In historical documents
Nyland/Uusimaa was first mentioned as late as 1310. During that
time the provinces of Sweden were divided between king Birger and
his two brothers. According to an agreement made between them Nyland
was one of the areas controlled by the king’s younger brother count
Valdemar.  However, by the late 1320s at the latest, the
government of the province of Nyland was already arranged. The province
had a bailiff (Lat. advocatus), a judge (Lat. legifer) and an ecclesiastic
tax collector under the bishop of Åbo/Turku as well as a seal of
its own. Soon afterwards the province of western Nyland was divided
into eight parishes (from west to east: Tenala/Tenhola, Pojo/Pohja,
Karis/Karjaa, Ingå/Inkoo, Lojo/Lohja, Sjundeå/Siuntio, Kyrkslätt/Kirkkonummi,
Esbo/Espoo), which together formed the county of Raseborg/Raasepori,
named after the castle with the same name. The eastern part of the
province was from now on called the county of Borgå/Porvoo.
 (Fig. 1)
New archaeological evidence
The main types of
hitherto known prehistoric sites in this coastal area are burial
cairns that in the maritime landscape are not only dated to the
Bronze Age, but also to the late Iron Age. As a result
of our project we have managed to show that most of these cairns
are located along possible ancient waterways. Palynological analyses
from Orslandet indicate that an agricultural continuity has its
beginning already in the 6th-7th century AD,
which is 500-700 years earlier than the scholars has previously
thought. This prehistoric and early medieval land use was very intensive
and not merely occasional slash and burn cultivation. However we
don’t know where the settlement sites were situated during the late
Iron Age. 
This is one of the primary problems, which our archaeological work
will be concentrated on during the near future.
Until recent years
not many medieval finds have been found in the former county of
Raseborg. Most of the older finds are from parish churches and the
castles of Raseborg and Junkarsborg.
 Even according to the most recent excavations the
medieval settlement sites have proven to be very small in area and
the finds are also sparse. Not much is left from the wooden houses
or the domestic utensils people used, and very little, if any; datable
finds are found from these sites. Even the cultural layers in the
soil of these sites are very thin. Most utensils must have been
made from organic materials and after being left on the ground they
have totally disappeared. The scarce find material is dominated
by pieces of imported items. The same phenomenon has also been recognised
by Swedish archaeologists: it is very difficult to identify medieval
rural settlement in central Sweden. 
site in northern Snappertuna, excavated already in 1926, was included
in this project for further research, and showed to have an interesting
find-material. The material from the settlement at the seashore
included both Iron Age type and Slavic earthenware as well as 14th
century stoneware pottery from two or three houses. On this site
we have the first indication of an occupation that continues over
the formerly deserted period between the 10th and 13th
The site is still unique in the area, but the palynological, and
other evidence, show that in the future similar sites can be expected.
Several palynological samples have been taken from different parts
of Nyland but they are still being processed.
work at Orslandet in the archipelago of Ingå is still in its early
phases but in Hangö/Hanko two field seasons of excavations have
been conducted. The find material shows that Hangö was permanently
settled at the latest during the middle of the 13th century.
Some Iron Age pottery has also been found from the site but no proper
evidence of permanent prehistoric settlement has been revealed yet.
The excavations in the summer of 2004 resulted in a surprisingly
well-preserved 13th and 14th century settlement
and an abundance of pottery. Most of the pottery was so-called proto-stoneware
and stoneware but also Slavic pottery and a silver coin from between
1320 and1340 AD were excavated.
Another important site
is Köklax/Kauklahti in Esbo/Espoo, which was excavated in 2002 and
2003 by the National Board of Antiquities. According to both the
evidence of the pottery and the radiocarbon dating of charred cereal
grains, this site in the estuary of the River Esbo/Espoo has been
colonised during the 13th century. Remains of several
medieval buildings were documented. The finds consisted mostly of
ceramics most of which were German stoneware but there were proto-stoneware
and eastern Slavic pottery as well. In the middle of this site a
graveyard dating most probably to the early or high Middle Ages
was also found.
smaller excavations have been conducted and are being planned on
several sites (e.g. Busö in the archipelago of Ekenäs/Tammisaari)
in the project area. Furthermore many deserted village-sites have
been found that have yet to be researched. On the site of one large
village abandoned in the 1550’s, Mankby in Esbo, many of the structures,
e.g. the remains of over 15 houses and several deserted roads are
still visible. (Fig. 2)
Even if finds from many of the sites are
scarce, many interesting ceramics have been found from certain coastal
settlement-sites. These finds of medieval ceramics are remarkably
diversified. Late medieval German stoneware has been found from
several sites, but there are older ceramics as well. Hangö, Kullåkersbacken
and Köklaks have revealed several pieces of German proto-stoneware
and early stoneware from the late 13th and 14th
centuries. Furthermore, from the same sites and even from some others,
also pieces of so called Slavonic or Baltic earthenware have been
found. Some of these ceramics are originally from North-western
Russia or the Novgorod region and some might be of Estonian production.
These pottery finds are evidence of the Hanseatic trade route from
Lübeck to Russia, particularly Novgorod.
This Slavonic pottery
is the first archaeological evidence from medieval contacts between
Nyland and the Baltic countries or North-western Russia. From historical
sources we know that the connections to Tallinn in Estonia have
been lively at least from the early 14th century onwards.  A route from Blekinge via the southern coast
of Finland to Tallinn is described already in a Danish itinerary
from the mid 13th century.  From two of the
places mentioned in this itinerary – Hangö and Ors – we have also,
during the last year, gotten some early medieval archaeological
colonisation or several setbacks?
has been seen as an area of intensive colonisation during the whole
medieval period. As a result of this colonisation there were ca
2500 farms in 750 hamlets or settlement sites in Western Nyland
in the middle of the 16th century.
 They were divided in eight parishes and ca 100
tax areas called bol. However the amount of bols was
practically the same in 1451 and the amount of farms seem to be
on the same level already in 1413.
 The last 100-150 years of the medieval period can
hardly be called a period of intensive colonisation!
The historical records
themselves are important in analysing the landscape. We have collected
detailed information on every single mid 16th century
hamlet in the province. On 17th and 18th century maps
most of the locations where these hamlets have existed can be found.
Thanks to these sources we can locate the medieval settlement-sites
and the small fields around them. Furthermore an analysis of historical
maps and tax records has revealed ca 40 deserted medieval hamlets.
Many reasons, such as wars and crop failures can have caused the
desertion of farms. Some of the settlement sites might be totally
deserted but in several other cases, the inhabitants have moved
to another place. Some general changes have already been traced
especially in the very coastal zone where land uplift has changed
the environment and forced people to move closer to the sea. Some
settlements might have been deserted because of the infamous 14th
century plague, the Black Death. From Kullåkersbacken, we have archaeological
evidence that it has been abandoned in the middle of the 14th
century or during the decades of the Black Death. 
The role of the nobility in the colonisation
According to the traditional
view the nobility didn’t take any significant part in the Swedish
colonization of Nyland. Instead it has been seen as an immigration
of independent peasants.
 However, an analyse of the land ownership reveals several
early manors. Each of them is situated in central locations along
ancient waterways or on the coastal road joining Åbo and Viborg/Viipuri
castles. All these manors have originally been surrounded by a couple
of tenant farms or a fief as well. Similar noble impact has been
revealed from other coastal regions in Finland, such as in the northern
part of Finland Proper and the vicinity of Viborg/Viipuri.
 Furthermore it seems that in Nyland these noble families
have taken an active role in establishing of parish churches in
at least Tenala, Pojo, Karis, Ingå and Sjundeå. (Fig.
chain of royal demesnes
In the late 13th
century it seems that in the southern and eastern part of Finland
Proper a chain of royal demesnes was established. These demesnes
were situated along a coastal route about 20 to 30 kilometres from
each other. Kustö/Kuusisto and Runagård/Ruonankartano are located
in Finland Proper. Helgå/Pyhäjoki lay on the boarder of the late
medieval counties of Åbo and Raseborg.
 In the western part of Nyland were Skavistad and Ramsjö.
The earliest mention of Skavistad in Pojo is already in the will
of ‘drots’ Mathias Kettilmundsson.  Previously Skavistad has not
been identified as a royal demesne. However it consisted of a fief
almost identical to those in Helgå, Runagård and Kustö. Ramsö is
once, in 1461, called a former royal manor.
 (Fig. 4)
An exactly similar
chain of royal demesnes was established in Helsingland, another
province integrated into the Swedish realm during the late 13th
and early 14th centuries. These demesnes served to organize
colonization in border areas to bolster the authority of the Swedish
crown and were centres for tax collection and administration. Situated
along roads and waterways they also offered accommodation for people
in the service of the crown.
 Later during the 14th century the castle
of Raseborg was built and the crown no longer needed the demesnes
in Nyland anymore.
Despite that Nyland has been studied
during the last century large coastal areas were still unknown to
archaeological and historical researchers. When these areas were
studied during the last three years it was shown that the late Iron
Age and medieval settlement history of the area have not been properly
understood. In the coastal and archipelagic zones there has been
agriculture and occupation from the middle Iron Age onwards. Already
in the Iron Age the maritime landscape has been important, as is
shown by the many finds and burial cairns all over the area. The
first archaeological indications of uninterrupted occupation on
at least some of the settlements founded during the Iron Age have
now been found.
Furthermore, some early medieval settlement
sites, such as Hangö by, Kullåkersbacken, Köklax and Ors, have also
been located and excavated. From these coastal sites there is new
archaeological evidence of medieval connections to both Western
and Eastern Europe. Future analysis of these sites can provide much
new information on the human activities, resource utilization and
settlement history in Nyland. One of the results we already have
is that a significant part of the settlement sites were during the
medieval times, connected to the maritime landscape, and settlement
dynamics were related to the local land uplift. As we can see from
e.g. Busö and Ors the sites were deserted when the distance to the
sea grew too much.
Nyland has always been characterised as
an area of medieval colonisation conducted by the Swedes. Previously
this colonisation has been seen as an immigration of independents
peasants. As a new result a significant noble impact has been verified
both in the colonisation activity itself and the establishing of
parish churches as well.
In the early 14th
century the province of Nyland had a bailiff, a judge and an ecclesiastic
tax collector as well as a seal of its own. During the same time
a chain of royal demesnes connected this area to Finland Proper
and Turku. The western part of Nyland, the county of Raseborg was
soon organised into eight parishes. When the Swedish realm was consolidated
during the 13th and early 14th centuries Nyland
was a well-organised province and not a mere area of colonisation.
National Board of Antiquities,
Department of Monuments and Sites, Helsinki
Haggrén, Georg & Enqvist, Johanna
& Hakanpää, Päivi & Wuorisalo, Jukka, Espoo, Kauklahti,
Saka, Kaivauskertomus, Kaivaukset 2003. (unpublished excavationsreport)
University of Helsinki,
Institute of Cultural Research, Dept. of Archaeology, Helsinki
Jansson, Henrik, Hanko, Hangon kylä,
Gunnarsängen, Kaivauskertomus, Kaivaukset 2004. (unpublished
excavationsreport in preparation)
Alenius, Teija & Haggrén, Georg &
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autiokyläksi – Inkoon Ors poikkitieteellisenä tutkimuskohteena.
SKAS1/2004, pp. 4-19.
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Society. BAR. International Series
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”Pohjois-Suomessa” SKAS 3/2004, pp. 4-19.
Haggrén, Georg & Jansson, Henrik &
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Figure 1. Western Nyland.
Figure 2. Important archaeological sites mentioned
in the article.
Figure 3. Medieval noble manors and parish churches.
Figure 4. High medieval royal demesnes.
 The two other members of our project are biologist Teija Alenius and
geologist Arto Miettinen.
 Kerkkonen 1945; Meinander 1983; Orrman 1990.
 Finlands medeltidsurkunder (FMU) 6572.
 Kerkkonen 1947.; Bidrag till Finlands historia
(BFH) I, p. 305.
 Alenius, Haggrén, Jansson & Miettinen 2004.
 Drake 1991; Jäkärä 1998;
 Broberg & Svensson
1987; Haggrén 2002, p. 20-24.
 Haggrén, Jansson &
 Haggrén, Enqvist, Hakanpää & Wuorisalo 2003.
 Suomen asutus 1560-luvulla
1973, p. 154-178.
 Kerkkonen 1945, p. 113-117.
 Haggrén, Jansson & Pihlman 2003.
 Lindqvist 2002, p. 47.
 Haggrén 2004, Kaukiainen 1975.
 Haggrén 1997, p. 33-37.
 Finlands medeltidsurkunder (FMU) 328.
 Finland medeltidsurkunder (FMU) 3156.
 Mogren 2000, p. 165-170.