Buried alive inside the castle walls, the Finnish Maiden immured still haunts this medieval building of Olavinlinna Castle. 

This is the castle built in the northernmost place in the world in the 15th century. In the heart of the Finnish lake region in the south east, it used to be on the frontline of the unstable border of Sweden and Russia. The Olavinlinna castle is built on a small island overlooking the dark waters surrounding it. 

The Castle of Knights and War

Since it was built in 1475, the Olavinlinna castle was in the frontline of the territorial dispute between Sweden and Russia as Finland for many years was fought over. It was placed strategically to protect the important Savo region and saw many sieges, battles and wars over the years. It held up the defenses for a long time, all up until 1714 when the Russians took over the castle at last and held it until 1917. 

A castle designed for war, it was named after St Olaf, the Norwegian king and saint for all knights. And throughout the years, the castle saw enough bloodshed and death for eternity. 

High on a rock, whose castled shade
Darken’d the lake below,
In ancient strength majestic stood
The towers of Arlinkow.

Donica – A Ballad Poem by Robert Southey (were Olavinlinna castle was the inspiration)

The stories of the castle are plentiful with legends of Finnish water spirits Vetehinen living in the black water surrounding the castle. Although not malicious by nature, dangerous as they are said to drown people when bored. There are also tales of the ghost of a black ram that escaped being dinner at a feast roams the castle. But most famously, there is the story of the Finnish Maiden that was immured inside the Olavinlinna castle walls. 

The Finnish Maiden

The Finnish Maiden is not only a local legend from the castle. The image of the Finnish Maiden is also used as a personification of the country itself. Often a barefoot young woman in her mid twenties with braided blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing a white or blue national costume. And in paintings she is either depicted as victorious with her fist raised, or as in the painting Attack, where she is attacked by an Russian eagle. And this image is quite fitting for this local legend. 

The Finnish Maiden: In the painting, the Russian doubleheaded eagle is attacking the maiden symbolizing Finland, tearing a law book. Immediately after the painting was finalized, it became the symbol of protest against russification, spreading throughout Finland in thousands of prints. (Painted around 1899)
Photo: Edvard Isto (1856-1905)

Buried Alive Inside the Walls

The most famous story about the Olavinlinna castle is the tragic story about the Finnish maiden that is said to be buried inside the castle walls. She was, according to legend, the daughter of the Lord of the castle at a time when the threat from Russia was ever present and the castle was at the line of defense from the Russian forces. 


Amidst all of this, she had fallen in love with a Russian soldier and trusted that he would do her no harm. But she should never have done so, as she was betrayed. When opening the castle gate for him, he brought more soldiers with him to attack the castle from the inside. They managed to beat the Russian soldiers and the treacherous lover was killed in the attack. But the tragedy didn’t end there. The maiden was also punished for her foolishness. 

She was condemned to death for treason and buried alive in a wall in the courtyard. Immurement or live entombment was a form of capital punishment, especially in legends and folklore. When used as a method of execution, the condemned dies from starvation or dehydration and it is often a slow and excruciating process.  

The Rowan Tree

Soon after, a Rowan tree sprung in the yard with white flowers blooming from the branches, a symbol of the maiden’s innocence. The tree also had red berries growing from it, red as her blood. 

There is no longer a tree in the Olavinlinna courtyard,and its existence is no way to prove. Neither is the story. What is true is the story of the maiden is not so deeply engraved in the local folklore and the Olavinlinna castle legend it has become one. 


More like this

Newest Posts



youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB2OH3gxzRU 


Leave a Reply