SPbU continues its tradition to invite foreign scientists and scholars to read open lectures. This time, Prof Per Ambrosiani from Umeå University has delivered a lecture on “Historical toponymy of Swedish-Russian border: Names of pogosts in Wattlande in 16-17 centuries”.

 The lecture also touches upon the Treaty of Stolbovo: 400 years ago Sweden gained the province of Ingria. 100 years later, after the Great Northern War, Russia regained the Baltic territories, and due to the territorial changes the names of the towns and villages were altered.

 After the Treaty of Stolbovo had been concluded, a number of lands fell into Swedish hands, among them was Wattlande , an administration unit, one of the five units (piatinas) of Novgorod region (Bezhestkaia, Derevskaia, Shelonskaia, and Obonezhskaia). Wattlande covered those territories where St Petersburg is located.

 One of the main sources on toponymy is a 19-century work by Prof K.A. Nevolin from Petersburg University “On Novgorod piatinas and pogosts in 16 century”, where he described all pogosts and gave their classification (a pogost was not only burial ground; it was an administrative unit which comprised a church and villages nearby). The most valuable source is the Novgorod occupation archive containing records from 1611–1617 during the Swedish occupation of Novgorod. Over 30 thousands of pages and scrolls contains letters and tell how Novgorod was ruled. After the Treaty of Stolbovo was concluded ending Sweden’s intervention in Russia, the documents were taken out of Russian and so far have been kept in the Swedish National Archives. Still, you don’t have to go there to see the documents as they have been scanned and now available in on-line version.

However they may be reliable, the sources can be inaccurate about the names of the towns and villages as they were repeatedly altered, which makes it impossible to trace their origin. A village Staraia Ves (ves used to be any village) was Tarovitsa in Finnish, and in Russian it was borrowed in its Finnish form as Tarovitsa. A village Zaluzhie adopted its Finnish version Salusi, or Saluzhi (Finnish: Salusi). Some of the names were phonetically similar and adopted Finnish forms:  Gorka — Kurku, Pikkola — Pikkolovo. A village Pappingondo (Popovskii Prikhod) acquired a new name after Russia regained these lands:  Babii Gon or Babigon. In some cases the names were literally translated from one language to another:  Elovoe was transformed into Kuusoja (In Finnish kuusi is a fir tree), Usadishche into Moijso (moisio is a land).

Reference: Per Ambrosiani  is a leading Scandinavian scholar in the Slavic studies, author of over 40 sholarly works on historical linguistics and onomastics. Prof Ambrosiani is Editor-in-Chief of  the Scando-Slavica, member of the Northern Countries Slavist Association and Swedish Slavist Association.