8. Open squares and closed yards

Walking around the town, you have probably noticed the gates. Certain type of gates in Old Rauma have been called wolf gates. The tightly built town area with closed court yards reminded of a typical medieval structure, where houses were side-by-side, closed off in their own plots. The court structure protected the residents and their cattle from unknown bypassers and prey. Farm animals were protected in other ways as well. Smells were believed to keep the wolves away, so farm animals were tarred, and a bag of train oil and gunpowder was hung on their necks.

Some wolf stories are connected to Old Rauma.  Tilen, a master shoemaker who lived in Uotila, a rural commune in Rauma, was a known violin player. One time, when the drunken fiddler was walking home from a gig, he fell into a wolf pit. Lying in the pit, Tilen started playing his violin to pass the time. Unfortunately, his playing attracted two wolves. They stayed on the edge of the pit and started howling to the music. Tilen quickly sobered up and realised, that the wolves could not bite him if they kept on howling, so he kept on playing his violin. Matti Vahteristo, the pit digger, woke up to the noise and came to the musician’s rescue.

Another wolf story associated with Old Rauma is about a dog passed off as a wolf. The town was surrounded by wolf pits in the late 19th century. Wolves were usually taken out of the pit alive so that their blood wouldn’t warn other prey. Telegraph manager Lindberg had also dug his own wolf pit. One day he picked up a creature from the pit assuming it was a wolf, and he showed it to the townspeople for ten pennies. Vornanen, a famous hunter, heard about the news and went to see the show wolf. However, the creature turned out to be Vornanen’s lost dog. Evidently, the two men started arguing, and Vornanen ordered Lindberg to give people their money back.

People used to leave their closed court yards to meet up in the market squares; sometimes to see a wolf that turned out to be a dog, sometimes to buy fish, or drink coffee. You can find smaller animals at the market squares.  If you are at a market square, stop for coffee and buns, crumb-stealing sparrows may come give you company. A sparrow has many names in the Rauma dialect: ‘hakokolppune’, ‘kolppune’, ‘hakomolko’ and ‘mottine’. Find the most enclosed gate in the market square vicinity.

Wolves were believed to howl under the ___________, with muzzles pointing to the sky.

Write the correct word in the poem (6) as well.

lehmä kauppakadulla
Men with a cow in the crossing of Kauppakatu and Vähäraastuvankatu in 1930´s. Photo: Rauman museum