PILGRIMAGE
A Spiritual and Cultural-Historical Journey
from Pirita to Vana-Vastseliina

Pilgrim’s route

The Iru hill fort


The Iru hill fort or Iru Linnapära is a 15-m high hill with the area of about 500m2 on the cape by the Pirita River on the eastern border of Tallinn, 8.5 km from Tallinn Old Town.

Ancient Estonians had a fortified settlement on the Iru hill fort. The history of the settlement reaches back to the 3rd millennium B.C. Traces of old settlements can be seen in front of the northern part of the hill fort and also on the western foot of the hill. The surroundings of Iru were thus an ancient settlement centre and Linnapära was its heart.
The hill fort has the remains of ridges not only at its end parts. A third ridge runs across the hillside, dividing the fort into two unequal parts, a bigger southern and a smaller northern part. Openings in the eastern side of the northern and middle ridge probably used to be old gates.



The fortified settlement stood on the hill fort in the 8th–5th centuries B.C. Remains of the oldest Estonian crossbeam structure and one of the oldest iron items found in Estonia, an awl, come from here.
In the 5th–11th centuries AD, a stronghold stood in the same place, which according to data acquired in the course of archaeological excavations, burned down several times before being abandoned.
Besides more ordinary items found at Iru, mention should be made of clay crucibles, indicating bronze casting and an equal-armed bronze brooch, quite rare in Northern Europe, a bone harpoon and a bridoon.

The Estonian Defence Forces have played a role in advancing Estonian archaeology. On the initiative of Aarne Michaël Tallgren, archaeologists turned to the Defence Forces for help in the early 1920s, specifically for taking aerial photographs, as pictures taken on ground level were insufficient. The cooperation was successful, resulting in many great photographs and plans of strongholds as well as of settlement sites. As early as in 1923, the first pictures arrived at the Board of Archaeology, to be followed by many more over the years.



On 29 August 1937, a symbolic garrison was established in Iru hill fort (the Iru company of the Defence League); the company chief was called the chief of the Iru hill fort, and he was given a sword and a shield.
Today, the hill fort's slopes are unfortunately all grown over.


Literature:

Martin Kuldmägi „Muinaslinnuste uurimislugu Eestis 1920.–1930. aastatel”. Tartu Ülikooli
Filosoofiateaduskond, Ajaloo ja arheoloogia instituut. Bakalaurusetöö, juhendaja Mirja Ots. Tartu, 2012.
http://register.muinas.ee/?menuID=monument&action=view&id=2609