Salme Vikingship © Salme Viikingiturg

Vikings Before Viking

When the two Viking ships holding the remains of 41 dead warriors were dated to ca. AD 700-750, the sensation rippled through academic circles. Now, the finds are exhibited at Salme in Estonia.

Saarema Museum Salme ShipsDuring the autumn of 2008-2010, two boat-graves at Salme in Estonia were discovered and excavated. With rows of 41 skeletons laid to rest in the hulls of the two ships together with a rich cache of weapons and funeral gifts, the find was soon considered one of the most important archaeological finds from the Viking world. First, the ships had carried sails, and secondly, dated to ca. AD 750, they belong to a period fifty years before the official date for the first Viking raid on Lindisfarne, reported by Alcuin.

After ten years of meticulous restoration and studies, the finds were recently returned to the Saaremaa Museum at Salme to be permanently exhibited near the place where they were discovered.

The exhibition called “Vikings before Vikings showcase the Viking swords, the whalebone gaming pieces, the shield bosses, arrowheads and other objects, contributing to the story of the Scandinavian elite warriors from the East Coast of Sweden, who ventured across the Baltic Sea to be slain among enemies.

The exhibition is housed in a medieval castle at Saaremaa founded after 1227, when the Estonians surrendered to the Teutonic Knights. The castle was built ca. 1300- and used as a bishops seat and a monastery. It bears the mark of the fate of the Estonians and their foreign rulers – the Danes, the Swedes, the Russians.

The site at Salme is also worth a visit, marked in the landscape with a sculpture showing the size of one of the ships. At the museum, one of the highlights will be a model-sized replica of the Salme 2 ship. With twelve oars on each side of the ship, it could have carried 30 men.


Vikings before Vikings
Saarema Museum


Major Saaremaa Viking Haul returned to the Island after a Decade
In: 15.01.2021



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