History of Liinmaa Castle
In the 1300s, a few minor defences like Liinmaa Castle were built on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. These were mainly made of wood on sandy hills. At least three similar castles are situated near the coast in Sweden. In Finland, such castles include Korsholma Castle near Vaasa and Liinmaa Castle. They were placed in strategic locations as trade and the exercise of power became more organised, in order to control the increasing traffic and commerce around the Gulf of Bothnia.
Today, the Castle is some 300 metres from the sea, but in the Middle Ages it was situated on a small island. A map from 1629 still shows the castle island surrounded by water.
The quadratic (42 x30 m) bailey is surrounded by a sand wall that was originally built from wooden coffers filled with sand and stones. The moat behind the wall has always been dry. The moat is surrounded by another wall. Access to the castle was possible from the south-east, where a gate-like opening is still visible.
The circa 100 m stone wall to the west of the castle is thought to have been a breakwater, which was located close to the ancient shoreline or even slightly below water. Excavations performed in 2004 revealed that the structure in question comprised two or three layers of stones, laid on a wooden foundation. The wall used to be longer but were partly destroyed as result of land use later on. Based on tree-ring dating of the timber in the support structure, the stone wall originates in the 1370s–1390s.
The first archaeological explorations of Liinmaa Castle were made in the 1880s and the most extensive excavations in 1978–1979, while small areas were examined in 2004–2005.
The results indicate that Liinmaa Castle was built at the end of the 1200s and used in the 1300s. It seems that, prior to the castle's construction, vegetation was burned to clear a site for the castle. Studies of soil layers revealed that, after being built, the castle was damaged by two fires, the latter probably being connected to the demolition of the castle towards the end of the 1300s
Excavations have revealed features such as parts of the paving in the bailey, and parts of buildings. Within the bailey, objects have been found that are indicative of life in the 1300s, including fragments of glass and clay vessels, metal objects, a silver coin from Gotland and dice made of bone. The numerous charred animal bones found tell us about the diet of castle residents at the time. Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal and bone samples found in the bailey indicates that some are from the late 1200s and some from the 1300s.
Studies have linked Liinmaa Castle to Vreghdenborg, which was first mentioned in 1395 and named after Dietrich Vieregge (Wereghede) from Germany. He was one of the noble mercenary chieftains serving the Swedish King Albert, or Albrekt av Mecklenburg in Swedish. In 1367, the King ordered him and two other noblemen to demolish a castle located in Satakunta, and to build a new one in a better location. The former castle was probably situated in Forsby or Isoluoto in Kokemäki. Studies have linked the new castle that was built to Vreghdenborg and this, in turn, to Liinmaa Castle, but no one can be sure of this. In 1398, Queen Margaret ordered the demolition of all redundant castles, which probably sealed the fate of Liinmaa Castle.
Very few literary sources remain from medieval Finland, but there are plenty of folklore legends connected to Liinmaa. The oldest was recorded as early as the 1730s: "Life was wretched when the castle stood in Liinmaa, a porch on the Kumola meadow. A cow cost an entire loaf of bread and a bull calf was worth only a breadcrumb." The story refers to the castles that stood in Liinmaa and Kokemäki (Kumo in Swedish) in the late 1300s, and their burden on the local population: the price of bread was very high at the time!
According to another legend, recorded in the 1800s, the last lord of Liinmaa Castle made a fatal error when he mistook his son's ship, which was returning home with a load of bricks, for a hostile warship and ordered his men to use the castle cannons to sink it. Upon realising his mistake, the grieving lord destroyed the entire castle. According to another version, the lord blew up the castle, retired to the cellar to grieve among his treasures, and was never seen again.