Roosta farm

Serf’s tenant farm from the late 18th C

Roosta is an example of a western Saaremaa farm in a natural barter economy system dating from the serfdom era. It was brought to the museum from Kihelkonna and Mustjala parishes from 1965-1971, and opened to the public in 1972.

An average farm had around 45 hectares of land, of which about 5 hectares was stony fields. The estate owner had control of the farm family itself as well as the land and buildings and fishing rights in coastal waters.

In return for tenancy and a fishing license, the family had to perform corvee labour and pay a tithe in grain, hay, firewood, chickens and eggs and fish, among other products. If the men were away at sea, the women had to plough the fields.

In the mid-19th century, the islanders started to travel to the mainland to work as ditch diggers or construction workers.

1 – barn dwelling, 2 – storehouse, 3 – cattle-shed, 4 – summer kitchen/smithy, 5 – sauna, 6 – prayer house

Did you know?

  • Until emancipation of the serfs in 1816-1819, the estate owner had free rein to evict peasants from farms. Thus the furnishings in the farms of the era are extremely simple, as fear of eviction kept many families from amassing many worldly possessions.
  • Roosta yard is accessed by gates typical of Saaremaa and other places with a limestone surface, the high gateposts of which are connected at the top with a wooden beam. This kept the posts upright even when it was difficult to dig holes in the ground.
  • Saare household implements were unlike mainland wooden vessels as they had many more hoops keeping the staves together. This attests to ties to Scandinavia.
  • The famed beer brewing traditions of Saaremaa islanders is attested to by the imposing fermentation barrels in the summer kitchen/smithy.