Baltic Billhooks

The billhook is known and used in the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as the neighbouring countries of Finland, Belarus, Russia and Poland.

A 'kiin' from Estonia, with its curved blade and socketted handle it has many similarities with billhooks from central and southern Europe (from the Eesti Ravha Museum collection).

With the hook at the back of a straight blade this 'kiin' has similarities with billhooks from Finland, Poland, Germany and Austria - as well as the English block-bill and the beet knives of East Anglia.

With a short beak, close to the blade this 'kiin' has similarities with those from Germany and Belgium.

With an eye for an axe handle this version is similar to those from Russia, and has probably been taken to the USA by immigrants where it has been developed into the American bush hook, or brush axe.

A Russian 'сучкоруб' (suchkorub) for comparison with the one above and below. The eye can be round or oval (axe eye).

Another from Estonia..

This sketch of a 'kaððuri' shows the type of handle used (see Finish 'kassari').

Another example of a 'kassuri' showing the handle fitted.

With is down turned hook, this type of 'kiin' appears unique to Estonia

Another version of the above.

Found in North Yorkshire (ref LANCUM-08AF65) this would appear to be Estonian in origin. From an 8th to 9th century site, it would appear to be evidence of medieval trading links between the Baltic and Anglos Saxon England.

Known as a  'võsanuga' this type of billhook has more in common with the billhooks of Finland.

Another 'võsanuga' complete with its handle.

I am indebted to Mart Reino, an Estonian blacksmith, who kindly sent me the information on Estonian billhooks, and a link to the Estonian Museums Public Portal from where I obtained most of the above images.

Modern 'võsanuga' from the forge of Alar Tamme another blacksmith from Tartu in Estonia