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Historic Windmills
in Finland

Home / Historic Windmills
in Finland

There are three types of windmills in Finland, each with distinctive regional variations in building technique and design. All these machines and their outer skin are made by hand out of wood, and not two windmills are alike. Most of the surviving 700 are small farm mills with the sole function to grind flour. Together with the mills on the islands of the northern Baltic Sea Finnish mills form a unique group among the mills of the world. Every one of these old machines testifies of the history of mechanics, agriculture and architecture.

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.

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