, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 185–190 | Cite as

Shoreline development and Swedish colonisation of north-west Estonia during the Middle Ages

  • Göran Hoppe
  • Ingrid Nõulik
  • Jaan-Mati Punning


This paper focuses on how landscape development in areas of land uplift has come to direct the primary human colonisation on the coastal areas in north-western Estonia. A Swedish-speaking minority population has at least since medieval times settled these areas. On the basis of an estimation of the rate of land uplift, the shoreline development and topography of a section of the coast was reconstructed. In this respect, it appears that large changes have occurred in that during the Middle Ages, the coast was much steeper but also much longer than today, full of little bays and points. This means that the drainage of near-shore areas was more intensive and that it was possible to find suitable landing places and well-sheltered harbours in some locations. These locations appear to have been primary settlements of the Swedish-speaking colonists and are very similar to coastal settlements of the same age along other coasts of the central Baltic Sea basin. Thus, the results presented in the paper allow the selection of primary research sites for field studies of the early settlement history of this ancient Estonian minority.

coastline development Estonian-Swedes land uplift north-west Estonia settlement history 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Göran Hoppe
    • 1
    • 1
  • Ingrid Nõulik
    • 2
  • Jaan-Mati Punning
    • 2
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human GeographyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Institute of EcologyTallinn Pedagogical UniversityTallinnEstonia

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