During the middle ages, there was a manor in Kuusisto where the bishops could stay. At the beginning of the 14th century, a castle was built to serve as a stronghold for the bishops, since at that time they were influential political leaders. Castle ruins are located near Kuusisto Manor in Kaarina by Piikkiölahti (Piikkiö bay).
The medieval bishop’s castle was originally built as a stronghold for bishops of Finland’s Catholic church. The oldest written record of the castle dates back to a letter, 1.7.1295 “In Custu”, in Kuusisto. Excavations of the ruins of the Bishop’s Castle have revealed that activities related to the residence for bishops continued until sometime between the late 13th and the early 14th centuries.
Initially, the castle was possibly made of wood. In 1318, the Danish Novgorodians conquered and burned down the castle which destroyed the bishop’s archives among other things. It was later decided to rebuild the Kuusisto Castle, using stones and tiles.
The beginning of the 15th century marked the heyday of Kuusisto Castle. Around 1485, there was a big fire which badly damaged the castle, but apparently the castle was quickly restored. The castle was equipped and expanded in the late 15th and in the early 1600th centuries.
The expansion and strengthening of the castle came to an end at the beginning of the early 16th century, after which the Danes took over Kuusisto Castle. King Gustav Vasa’s troops conquered Kuusisto Castle in 1523. The state had no interest in developing the castle, and Gustav Vasa ordered the commander of Turku Castle, Maunu Sveninpoika, to demolish the castle so that it would not become a stronghold for Catholicism in Finland.
The National Board of Antiquities had been in charge of Kuusisto Castle, but since 1.1.2014, Metsähallitus has been overseeing it.
The different stages of Kuusisto Castle according to the ruling bishops
Magnus I 1291-1308: The oldest written mention is found in Magnus’s letter
Ragvald II 1309-1321: The construction of the castle is started
Bengt & Hemming 1321-1366: The castle is built and equipped
Magnus II Tavast 1412-1450: Building of the largest part of the castle
Olaus Magni & Konrad Bitz 1450-1489: There was an extensive fire in 1485, Bitz died later in the castle
Magnus Särkilahti, Lauri Suurpää, Johannes IV Olau & Arvid Kurck 1489-1522, extensive construction work in the castle
The last bishop during the Catholic Era of Turku was Arvid Kurck. He was selected to be the archbishop of Sweden in 1522, but on his way there, he was shipwrecked and drowned
After Kurck’s death nobody ruled Kuusisto castle. At the same time, the Danes occupied the castle and took over the church while trying to defend their property. The castle was badly damaged in the battle
The troops of Gustav Vasa take over the castle in 1523
Gustav Vasa did not want his bishops to possess any military strongholds, so all the castles were confiscated and taken as properties of the crown
Gustav Vasa orders Kuusisto Castle’s demolition in 1528
Once upon a time our country lived through such bad times that many of the poor were not able to get seed grain. One poor peasant asked his master to lend him barley seed. The rich master refused. The poor peasant became sad and sat with an empty sack by the ruins of Kuusisto castle. Suddenly, he saw barley coming up from a crack in the gravel and he quickly placed his open sack underneath next to it. He collected the barley into his sack and happily began to plant it. The peasant’s harvest was bountiful, while the rich master suffered a terrible year and his harvest failed. The crack which provided the barley was never seen again. But nearby, a little bird sang on the ruins. A lot of effort is put into achieving splendor, but sometimes the meek are blessed.
(Finnish Literature Society, Folk Poetry Archive Collections, written down 1961)
Lastly, I remember a story about a former bishop who committed a horrific atrocity upon a young woman while he lived in the castle. He could find no rest in his grave, but was doomed each Whitsunday night to walk around the ruins until an innocent maiden would set him free from this spell. The maiden must walk amidst the ruins fearlessly and alone on Whitsunday night. She would first need to read, in latin, “Pater Noster”, then “Ave Maria.” Lastly, she would need to recite: “Don’t worry, your crime has already been forgiven!” That’s how the restless soul of the bishop could finally find peace. Maybe the poor bishop has been punished enough for his crime. His restless spirit has wandered around for several hundred years already. Surely, somewhere in the surroundings, it must be possible to find a dear gentle-hearted maiden who would deliver a message of forgiveness to our old man.
(Sanomia Turusta (News from Turku) 15.4.1963)
This tale is from the ruins of Bishop’s Castle, situated near Piikkiö Church and Kuusisto Bay. One of the Catholic bishops ruled the castle at that time and his soldiers collected taxes from the peasants living in the surroundings. During these trips, the soldiers met a beautiful girl named Maria from the Tuomaala house. Maria was engaged to be married to a boy from the nearby Sipilä house. A soldier called Niilo started to plot how he could get the girl. In winter time, Maria used to ski alone across the ice all the way to the castle cemetery. During one of those trips, Niilo surprised the girl and managed to seduce her and lead her inside the walls of the castle. The girl could not escape from there. No one knew how long the girl stayed in the Bishop’s castle, nor how she died. But in the summer, the waves carried the girl’s body to her home by the shore of Tuomaala. The boys of the house were unable to find out any details about what had happened since the bishop was Almighty on earth. But Maria’s fiancé wanted to take revenge on Niilo who had kidnapped the woman. Once, when Niilo was riding back from Turku, the opportunity arose. A rope was thrown around his neck and he was dragged down from his horse. And on that road, his genitals were cut off. Before he was able to reach the castle and get help, he bled to death on the road. And so the Maria’s death was avenged. However, her fiancé was forced to flee and abandon his home.
After many centuries, when the castle had already deteriorated, the restless ghost of Maria wandered among the ruins. On moonlit nights, the girl was seen sitting down on the edge of the embankment pointing towards her home. Occasionally when the moon created a silver bridge over the bay, the girl was seen walking on that bridge towards her home. The last one to see the ghost of the girl walking from the castle ruins across the moon bridge, was a fisherman named Silver, on the same night the First World War broke out.
(Finnish Literature Society, Folk Poetry Archive Collections)
Photos: Metsähallitus/Elias Lahtinen