Nelja võlli ja katusega külakiik Läänemaale Pusku külla / Constructing a four-shaft swing in Pusku, Läänemaa


  • Marko Aatonen



The use and construction of village swings, including the corresponding know-how, has not disappeared from Estonia during the last couple of decades. The common construction solution for the village swing has a traditional outer shape, based on the constructor’s/developer’s intuition and visual images. Usually a swing located nearby and possessing good proportions is taken as an example. Also new materials or construction details can be tried out. In the area of technology and due to the safety requirements, the more modern and familiar connections of details are used as they are considered to be more reliable.

Fundamental change in the overall shape of the swing is very rare. This article focuses on the four-shaft village swing, which was introduced to Hiiumaa at the beginning of the 20th century. The peculiarity of the swing is a base platform with benches on which swingers sit and which remains in a horizontal position to the ground during swinging. For that reason the swing has two parallel shafts supported on the upper part of the posts of the construction; two more shafts are fixed to the thills hanging from the shafts on which the platform of the swing is supported. In order to become familiar with the topic, the author mapped four-shaft swings in Hiiumaa and used the models for planning and constructing a new swing. The common features of swings in Hiiumaa included diagonals placed inbetween the poles of the swing and the thills fixed to the upper shafts. The proportions of swings observed varied; however, the structural connections were solved similarly. It is more common for swings to have benches than not. According to the photos of the Museum of Hiiumaa it can be concluded that four-shaft swings have been known here for more than a hundred years, which might reflect the influence of seaman who after travelling in the wide world came back home and tried to copy something they had seen in practice.

The builder gained a new experience when he used pitched timber in the construction and planned a low slanting roof. The article describes the construction process of the swing, and photos enable to gain an overview of the work stages. The swing built in Pusku village in 2018–2019 follows the proportions of earlier swings but some constructional improvements have been made. First the pier foundation was constructed to establish the swing on stable ground so if any details breaks, it will be easy to replace it. Poles were made of pitched pine, which ensures a longer service life for the construction  in exterior conditions (pine trees were barked three years before felling to let the timber saturate with resin). As an idiosyncratic experiment a low slanting shingle roof was built on the swing, to protect the connections of details and to extend the service life of the swing and prolong the swinging time. The metal parts of the swing were made by masters of the trade; wooden details were made in the workshop and installed on site so that the building process did not depend on weather conditions and this also saved money and time otherwise needed on the construction site.

Keywords: village swings, swinging, log construction, facilities


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