Exploring the Estonian island of Hiiumaa

July 12th, 2012

KÄINA, ESTONIA–The Wooster/OSU geology team took a break today from our usual field routine. We spent the morning consolidating notes and specimens (yes, that means the students slept very late) and then the afternoon seeing some of the major Hiiumaa sites. The highlight was visiting Hiiumaa’s iconic attraction, the Kõpu Lighthouse on the Ristna Cape. It is the oldest lighthouse in the Baltic states and reported to be the third oldest continuously-operated lighthouse in the world. It was completed in 1531 and has been working ever since. The Hanseatic League demanded a lighthouse here beside the most important trade route in the Baltic Sea. The original light was a fire that required 1000 cords of firewood every year, nearly deforesting the surrounding peninsula. The Germans bombed it in 1941, but only damaged its optical structures on top. It was an important navigational aid until 1997 when it was replaced by a modern radar system.

A model of the medieval version of the Kõpu lighthouse in the Tallinn Maritime Museum. Access to the top platform was by a long ladder. The light was a bonfire of pine wood.

The lighthouse staircase is incredibly narrow and steep, being cut into the structure in the 19th century. (Prior to this there was a wooden staircase on the outside.) Richa is better built for such a place than me!

Richa and Jonah wanted an answer to the famous “O-H-I-O” pantomime our OSU friends like to construct, so they made a C-O-W version. The lighthouse window here at the top is the “O”, you see. Maybe it will catch on. Maybe …

Near the end of the afternoon we visited the Ristna Lighhouse and one of the westernmost points on the island. (This is where Alyssa found her famous trilobite.) Richa and Jonah noted that large igneous boulders make excellent posing platforms at the edge of the sea.

As a brief nature vignette, here is a dung beetle (Geotrupes stercorosus) we saw deep in the Estonian woods at our lunch spot. I’m sparing you the dung itself!

5 Responses to “Exploring the Estonian island of Hiiumaa”

  1. Cheryl Roferon 12 Jul 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Ilusad mardikas ja kivistis!

  2. Cheryl Roferon 12 Jul 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Ka ilus ilm – sinine taevas!

  3. Sheldon Novekon 13 Jul 2012 at 1:33 am

    Hi there and glad to see that everyone’s having such a good time! And a nice break from a week of what seemed to be great finding, collecting and examining! Weather looks marvelous, probably a bit chilly which is a blessing, believe me! Keep up the great work and have a great weekend…

    Shabbat Shalom all!

    Sheldon Novek
    (Jonah’s dad, incase there was any doubt!)

  4. Mark Wilsonon 13 Jul 2012 at 9:24 am

    Shabbat shalom, Sheldon! Thanks for the note. All is very well.

  5. [...] expedition to Estonia. Jonah Novek (’13), me, and Richa Ekka (’13) on the top of the Kõpu Lighthouse, Hiiumaa Island, Estonia. Photo by our friend Bill Ausich [...]

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