T Is For Tiili.


Tiili is Finnish for brick. I found this piece of red brick near Ursininkallio in Eiranranta, Helsinki, in November 2017. Waves and ice had worn it down to a shape similar to a pebble or a small, a bit flat potato. I put it back there after having taken the photos, because I felt that I shouldn’t take it. It wasn’t the only one there, but there weren’t that many of them either.

It’s possible that the brick comes from the sea bathing facilities that were at Ursininkallio (Ursin’s rock) until 1934. Nils Abraham af Ursin (1785 – 1851), after whom the rock and the bathing facility were named, was a Finnish physician, Professor of anatomy and physiology and the Rector of University of Helsinki (at the time the Imperial Alexander University in Finland).

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© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved.


  1. Nightjar says

    That’s nice! I used to find this kind of pebble-shaped brick pieces at the beach, they always stood out to me because of the bright colour. Also pieces of green glass bottles rounded and polished by the sea, I found those so beautiful too. It seems Nature knows exactly how to deal with that kind of pollution, it’s just rocks after all, so they’re treated as such. Now plastic, that’s the real abomination…

  2. jazzlet says

    I used to walk the dogs on beaches in Suffolk on the east coast a lot as my MiL lived in Lowestoft. That whole coast has been being eroded for centuries with whole villages lost, as a result there are a lot of eroded brick pebbles so I had no qualms about taking some to add to my collection of water worn pebbles. Search for Dunwich for one place that is now a village, but was a sizeable town.

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    Marcus @ 3

    It’s quite possible. Tile, tegel and Ziegel (Swedish and German for brick or tile) all come from Latin tegula and it’s plausbile that Finnish loaned the word from Germanic languages. According to Wiktionary, the Proto-Germanic form was tigulǭ.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    To be more precise, in Finnish, tiili means a brick or a roof tile. The latter is often called kattotiili (katto = roof/ceiling). Other kinds of tiles are called kaakeli (dry-pressed ceramic tiles used in bathroom and kitchen walls) or laatta (a generic word for all tiles, including kaakeli, but not bricks).

    In Swedish murtegel (wall brick) is the specific word for bricks and taktegel (tak = roof/ceiling) for roof tiles.

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