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LÕHAVERE STRONGHOLD

Location: N58° 32` 58.8", E25° 30` 54.9"

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Lõhavere (Leole) stronghold is situated in Viljandi County near the road connecting Suure-Jaani town and Olustvere settlement. Although there have been over 100 strongholds that belonged to ancient Estonians, this one is the only stronghold which can be associated with the real person. It was the home of Lembitu who was an elder of Sakala County and military leader in the struggle against conquest of Estonian lands by German knights. He attempted to unite the Estonians to fight for their freedom. He managed to create an army of 6,000 Estonian men from different counties, but was killed in in the Battle of St. Matthew's Day, 21 September 1217. 

Lõhavere stronghold was so to say private stronghold that belonged to a rich or powerful ancient Estonian family. It had been in use for 20 years at the beginning of 13th century and burnt down for three times. According to the Chronicle of Henricus de Lettis the stronghold was first burnt down in 1211 by German knights, in 1215 for the second time and it was totally destroyed in 1225. 

The hill of the castle is one of the most studied pre-historic places in Estonia. The hill is 78 x 44 metres large and 8-10 metres tall. In the 13th century the courtyard was protected and surrounded by a 2.5 metres high timber wall and then sand wall. At the top of the wall there were strong timber watchtowers. In case of state of siege, the defenders could get fresh water from the 10-metre-deep well. People's houses were hidden near the wall. The gates were strengthened with limestone walls and protected with defence towers. 


Archaeologists have found a lot of artefacts from this site: arrowheads, a sword, different tools, jewellery, silver and pottery; some bracelets and necklaces, rings, beads, woollen yarn, brocade shreds, etc. 

There is a monument near the hill made of red granite in memory of ancient Estonian warrior Lembitu. There are also some lines from the chronicle of Henricus de Lettis in Estonian and in Latin. The opening ceremony of the monument took place on 21th September 1969.