Museum Reserve

New Research on Latvia’s Medieval Castles in the German Publication:

Burgen-im-Ostseeraum-und-ihr-europäischer-KontextBurgen im Ostseeraum und ihr europäischer Kontext: Beiträge der Konferenz vom 27.08.-01.09.2017 auf der Marksburg bei Braubach am Rhein (Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas, Bd. 98; Archaeologia Medii Aevi Finlandiae XXVII; Castella Maris Baltici XIV). / Hrgs. Felix Biermann, Elisabeth Crettaz-Stürzel, Christofer Herrmann. Langenweissbach: Beier&Beran. Archäologische Fachliteratur, 2021.

Researchers from the Medieval Castles around the Baltic Sea have been gathering in one of the countries since 1991, at the end of each other summer, to meet in a conference cycle called Castella Maris Baltici (the Latin meaning of the words – “Castles of the Baltic Sea”). In the last week of August 2017, Castella Maris Baltici XIV conference took place in Germany, in the small town of Braubach on the River Rhine, near Koblenz. More than 30 participants: archaeologists and architects, medieval historians and art historians, museum specialists, university lecturers and doctoral candidates – had come from eight countries – Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany. The conference organisers, the European Castles Institute (Europäisches Burgeninstitut), in cooperation with professors – castle researchers from two German Universities, had chosen two main topics for the study: “Castles as places for expression of cultural, architectural and economic relations  in Western Europe and Baltic Region” and “Romance of the Castles and their Restoration  in the 19th and 20th centuries”.

The German publishing house, Beiran & Beiran, has published a collection of papers that has been presented at the conference this spring. It is printed in German or in English, supplemented respectively by a summary of the second language. The book has three compilers – Felix Biermann, the then professor of archaeology at Greifswald and the present – at University of Szczecin. Christopher Hermann, Professor of the History of Art at the Technical University of Berlin, and the emeritus Dr Elizabeth Kretaz-Shtirzel. The edition includes 17 scientific articles, which contain the bulk of the information compiled from the paper and poster presentations at the conference. Like the conference, also the collected articles are divided into two chapters – the first is dedicated to the Castles of the Baltic Sea Region and their regional or interregional contacts, while the second – to the restoration issues in medieval castles  during the last two  centuries.

In the collected articles, Latvia is represented by two authors – Vija Stikāne, historian of the  Turaida Museum Reserve with an article entitled “Bailiffs of the Archbishopric of Riga (1255-1566) and the Medieval Castles built by them” and Ieva Ose,  art historian with a research entitled “The use of Ceramics in the Medieval Castles of Latvia in the 13th-16th centuries.” Both articles also focus on the Turaida Castle – as an important Brick Gothic Building and Bailiff’s Residence.

The article of Vija Stikāne is also illustrated by two pictures related to Turaida – a contemporary photograph with a view to the castle from the west side and an impression of the former bailiff’s seal from the period of time between 1400 and 1550.

Since the conference presentations of the Castle Research Association Castella Maris Baltici, have  always been enriched with scientific tours, in which the participants of the other countries are acquainted with the most important medieval castles of the visited region, an illustrated overview of the architectural monuments visited in 2017 has  been added to the article as well. Its route and information on the castles not only remind the conference participants of their joint trips, but it might also be useful for other castle researchers who have not attended the conference of Castella Maris Baltici XIV.

The above  mentioned collection of articles, as well as part of the volumes previously published in the Castella Maris Baltici series, are available for reading in the Latvian National Library and in the Turaida Museum Reserve’s Library, since the 8th cycle conference took place in Turaida in 2005. The initiators of the series – the Finnish Society of Medieval Archaeologists – have launched the earliest volume scanning because most of them have been sold out. After some time, they will be digitally available on the society’s website by searching for the second serial name Archaeologia Medii Aevi Finlandiae (http://www.skas.fi/in-english/amaf-series/).

Ieva Ose
Chief specialist
Turaida Museum Reserve


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