ESTONIAN ACADEMY
PUBLISHERS
eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
PUBLISHED
SINCE 1997
 
Archaeology cover
Estonian Journal of Archaeology
ISSN 1736-7484 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-2933 (Print)

PLACE-LORE AS A TOOL TO IDENTIFY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES; pp. 89–116

Full article in PDF format | https://doi.org/10.3176/arch.2017.2.01

Author
Pikne Kama

Abstract

In this article I present an analysis of how place-lore has and can be used as a tool to identify archaeological sites. The focus was upon three types of sites: prehistoric strongholds; burial sites on dry land; wetland sites with potential human remains. In the first part, the prehistoric strongholds in historical Võrumaa County are discussed, followed in the second part by the burial sites in Karula Parish. The aim was to answer the questions “How many of these sites had been identified using folklore (including place names)?”, “How did this place-lore form and what kind of information does it pass on?” and “How did identifi­cations in folklore or on the basis of folklore relate to the archaeological evidence at these places?” In third part my own fieldwork, undertaken at wetlands selected on the basis of folklore that referred to human remains, is presented. Analysis of the prehistoric strongholds showed that in general they were identified on the basis of folklore. However, other potential stronghold sites that occur in place-lore remain unconfirmed by archaeological evidence.
In the case of some of these sites, a lack of confirmation may be owing to inadequate archaeological investigation. Almost all burial places in Karula Parish have been identified using place-lore, usually describing unearthed human remains. Unlike in the case of strongholds, the place-lore concerning burial sites is less likely to refer to the original use of sites, which indicates that many of them were “forgotten” by locals after the end of use. The fieldwork in the wetlands did not uncover any new archaeological finds. The main reason could be the difficulties of doing wetland archaeology. The place-lore may also be misleading with regard to all three types of archaeological sites, but it is also not possible
to state categorically that in the past people did not interact with these sites. The results of this study show how important place-lore has and can be in determining archaeological sites. However, one has to keep in mind how place-lore emerges and the character of the information it tends to pass on.


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