Bischofsburg Oldentorne (Vana-Kastre)

Oldentorne, or in today’s language, Vana-Kastre was the site of a castle in the Bishopric of Dorpat (Tartu). Not much is left today — I only found a bit of surviving masonry, overgrown by the trees present, and there is a lot of overgrowth present. There might have been some attempts to save this place from nature but it did not last long, and I feel like the local villagers would have taken the potential for stones and used them in dwellings they required after the castle fell into disuse.

The surviving masonry

The castle itself is situated where two rivers cross, with the smaller one joining the fairly mighty Suur Emajõgi for its flow downstream into Lake Peipsi. Tartu, the centre of the domain for which this castle stood, was further upstream, about one third of the way to Lake Peipsi. The two rivers naturally provided a most strategic position, and one which is visible if carefully traced even today. There is evidence of overgrown moats to the landward face of the castle while the smaller river is clearly traceable on the western flank of the castle (though the castle itself is so overgrown I could not make my way down to this side).

It is said that the castle is first mentioned in 1343 though evidence points to the construction having begun in 1242. Little else has come down to me about the history of this place except for the bishops soon after seemed to think that another toll-point on the river would have been excellent and went another third of the way down to found a relative of this castle, at least in the language of the Estonians today (Uue-Kastre in Estonian, Warbeck in German).

I’ll leave you with a picture downstream, allowing imagination to see a few trade vessels making their way towards the castle and on to Dorpat.

From downriver…

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