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The Pitch Tar Mills in the Gulf of Bothnia’s Early Modern Coastal Towns, Northern Finland

Author(s): Marika Hyttinen ; Titta Kallio-Seppä

Year: 2016

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During the 18th and early 19th centuries, every coastal town in northern Finland’s Gulf of Bothnia had their own pitch tar mills. The pitch was produced from boiling tar and used as creosote to make wooden sailing ships watertight. The global need for pitch and tar made these products an important export product for early modern Swedish trade. The pitch tar mills were often located near towns on the mainland’s coast or on offshore islands nearby. Since 1640 in the town of Oulu, for instance, the pitch boilery was located across the water from the urban area on Pikisaari Island. In the 1720s the maritime toll was moved to Pikisaari that resulted the island became a more integral part of the town. In this presentation we will discuss how the changing mill locations reveal negotiations of power and control among key players in the industry. 

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Cite this Record

The Pitch Tar Mills in the Gulf of Bothnia’s Early Modern Coastal Towns, Northern Finland. Marika Hyttinen, Titta Kallio-Seppä. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 435099)


control Pitch tar mills Urban Area

Geographic Keywords
Finland Western Europe

Temporal Keywords
Early Modern Period

Spatial Coverage

min long: 19.648; min lat: 59.807 ; max long: 31.582; max lat: 70.089 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 211

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America