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Historic Windmills
in Finland

Home / Historic Windmills
in Finland

The technique of grinding corn into flour by using wind power to turn a circular stone died long ago but the ingenuity of the machinery keeps us fascinated just like old cars or engines do. The fact that these machines are made by hand out of wood and that not two windmills are alike makes them all the more interesting. We are taking a closer look on historic windmills in Finland.

Example of a post mill in Närpes, Finland.
383
Post Mills
Hollow post mill in Uusikaupunki, Finland.
53
Hollow Post Mills
A smock mill in Uusikaupunki, Finland.
51
Smock Mills

There are three types of windmills in Finland: post mills represent the oldest type; hollow post mills represent a type that dates back to the second half of the 18th century; and smock mills, which are called mamselli in Finland according to mademoiselles who wore the smocks, were also introduced in the late 18th century. Most of the surviving mills were built in the 19th century. According to Hirsjärvi & Wailes “smock mills were used by the manors; hollow post mills were built by the larger farmers, and post mills by smallholders”. All Finnish windmills are made of wood with one exception. Today most of them are painted with red earth paint, and indeed, this is known to have been the tradition since long at least in the western and central parts of the country.

Windmill technology was brought to Finland from Sweden. Windmills were mentioned for the first time in 1463 in this eastern province of the kingdom. Towards the end of the 16th century their number is known to have grown to about 400. Over the centuries the technology spread from the southwest through the whole country. Water–powered mills always dominated in areas with waterways but windmills were built in great numbers over the next three centuries where fast flowing rivers and rapids are scarce.

Background

There was no overall information of the many windmills in Finland. The only documents with a general view are two maps—with few accompanying facts and figures—by Toivo Vuorela in his books Atlas of Finnish folk culture (1976) and Etelä-Pohjanmaan kansanrakennukset (1949). The first gives a graphic view about where the different types of windmills could be found in Finland before the First World War. The second illustrates the number of windmills in the year 1830.

For fresher information a request for a survey was sent to all regional museums in the country. The aim was to count the surviving historic windmills and get an idea of their state of repair. See our conclusion of the attained information…

Summary of Finnish Windmills

Here is the summary of a complete list of Finnish windmills, status as of spring 2014—where the condition of each windmill was evaluated roughly in three categories, A, B, C as follows:

  • condition A = good; structure, sails and machinery intact
  • condition B = OK; faults in roof or walls, eg. sails missing or machinery incomplete
  • condition C = bad; unsound or incomplete structure, sails and machinery missing

Special Thanks

The information about the number and state of the historic windmills in Finland was collected by the following curators and researchers at the regional museums in Finland and on Åland:

Windmill glossary in English, Estonian, Finnish and Swedish

The glossary of windmill terminology is based solely on the available literature and Internet sources. Despite its limitations it should help those who are inspired to go on studying the subject in these languages.

Estonian Finnish Swedish
type of mill
postmill pukktuulik jalkamylly, varvasmylly stubbkvarn, stolpkvarn, fotkvarn
hollow post mill harakkamylly holkkvarn
smock mill, Dutch mill Hollandi tuulik mamsellimylly hättkvarn, holländare
machinery
sails, sweeps tiivad siivet vingar
sail bar siiven varsi kvarnarmar
wing stock, sail stock, middling, main spar tiiva ige, ike siiven apuvarsi hjälparm
wind shaft võll, võlv siipiakseli, siipitukki gångås, drivaxel
bearing laakeri lager
journal, neck kaela tits siipiakselin kaula axelns hals
poll end, canister (cast iron) siipiakselin etupää kvarnhuvud, storände
tail end siipiakselin takapää lillände: axelns bakända
brake wheel suurratas suuri hammasratas / hammaspyörä kronhjul, storhjul
cog hammas hammas kugg
spokes ardam rattaan puolat ekrar
brake pidur jarru broms, pass, trög
wallower värkel lyhty, trälli trellan, drevet, lyktan
upright shaft pystyakseli, tantari, mäntä kvarnaxel
spindle pill, harkpill, argiraud neularauta, väkirauta trellnål, spindel
grinding apparatus
hopper (vilja)kolu, korv suppilo, tuutti tratt för korn
trough king, küna porsas, ruuhi, karistin ränna
millstones: runner stone, bedstone veskikivid: kivitörskivi, krants myllynkivet: päällyskivi, aluskivi kvarnstenar: löparen, liggaren
stone casing, stone furniture kiviraam kivilaatikko, kahna mjölkar: låda kring, kvarnstenarna
meal spout jauhotorvi rör för mjöl
meal bin jahukirst jauholaatikko, kahmalo, jauholaari låda för mjöl?
structure
body kere myllyaitta kvarnhuset
tail pole veskisaba, sabapuu, vehmer häntäpuu vindhäst, kvarnhäst
breast beam, weather beam siipiakselin etupäätä kannattava palkki
tail beam siipiakselin takapäätä kannattava palkki
porch, balcony kuisti bro
post sammas, emapuu, post tukki, tammi stubbe, stolpe
hollow post pystypatsas
crown tree pöörpakk, söömer, ematala niskahirsi hjärtstocken
trestle raampakud jalka fot
ladder trepp tikkaat / portaat stege / trappa
floor, deck lava silta, lattia brogolv
kelkkaset brostockar
collar (or bearing) above the sub-structure that carries the body kääntölaakeri sadel
cap müts hattu hätta

References

Auvo Hirsjärvi, Rex Wailes. Finnish Mills, Part I: Watermills, Part II Mamsel or Smock mills, Part III Hollow Post Mills and Part IV: Post Mills. The Newcomen Society, 1968–73.

Toivo Vuorela. Suomen kansankulttuurin kartasto 1 — Atlas of Finnish Folk Culture SKS 1976, ISBN 951-717-099-8, ISSN 0355-1768, Old map of windmills.

Toivo Vuorela. Suomalainen kansankulttuuri 1975. ISBN 951-0-07190, 951-0-07190-9.

Toivo Vuorela: Etelä-Pohjanmaan kansanrakennukset 1949.

Timo Jokelainen. Lakeuden tuulimyllyt. Oulun Yliopiston julkaisu C65, ISBN 951-42-4981-X.

Historiallinen maatalous; Helsingin yliopisto. http://www.helsinki.fi/kansatiede/histmaatalous/maanjaot/voimakoneet.htm

http://museovirastorestauroi.nba.fi/muut-kohteet/tuulimyllyt

Eriksnäsin tuulimyylyn restaurointisuunnitelma. Kymenlaakson ammattikorkeakoulu, 2009. https://www.theseus.fi/handle/10024/5031

Website of the International Molinological Society (TIMS) — active since 1965, and the only organization dedicated to mills at a worldwide scale.