Carved Stone Fragment of Sanidine Trachyte from the Viljandi Castle

Aivar Kriiska, Juho Kirs, Kaur Alttoa, Lennart Maala


This article examines the medieval carved stone fragment found in the course of archaeological excavations from a stable boys’ house in the third bailey of the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Viljandi (Estonia), which was built during the Middle Ages. It is likely that the piece of carved stone ended up in the layer of ruins when the buildings in the third bailey were demolished. Based thereon, no conclusions can be drawn about the original location of the carved stone – it may have been brought from somewhere in the vicinity. However, based on the place it was buried it is clear that the stone was carved before the second half of the 16th century.

The carved stone fragment is a wedge-shaped piece of light grey limestone-like stone, which is few centimetres thick, 6–9 cm long and 5–8 cm wide, with carved profiling still visible on its sides. This mineralogicalpetrographical picture of carved stone fragment is characteristic of alkali volcanic rock trachyte, and considering the relationships of main minerals, it is more precisely characteristic of porphyritic sanidine trachyte from the Drachenfels Hill in Germany.

Carved stone fragment is extremely small and seriously damaged, but the fine profiling is clearly visible. It is more likely that it comes from a small form. Since, in the Estonian context, this is a rare material, it is more believable that was a precious, rather than a mundane, object. First off, one would assume that it was a sacrament niche, but naturally there are other possibilities.


Estonia; Viljandi castle; Middle Ages; carved stone fragment; sanidine trachyte

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ISSN 1736-8812 (print)
ISSN 2346-5581 (online)