Historic battleground burial site uncovered

  • 2010-09-01
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - A burial ship has been discovered in Salme village, Estonia, which specialists consider could be from a pre-Viking era battleground burial, reports news agency ERR. If archeologists’ assumptions turn out to be accurate, it would mean that this is a unique find on a grand European scale. So far, 16 skeletons of men killed in battle have been discovered on the site.

As the specialists note, a fierce struggle took place some 1,250 years ago near a place where Salme village is now located, on the island of Saaremaa.
Juri Peets, a professor of archaeology at Tallinn University, says “Our estimate is 30 casualties, plus the same amount of injured. The skeletons bear sword marks. This shows the battle took place on land - you can’t reach the enemy with a sword from a boat. There were also arrowheads found in the skeletons and in a shield.”

Such a mass grave of warriors from that period has never before been discovered anywhere in Europe. Foreign warriors were buried on Estonian land with their belongings. For example, the findings included a gilded bronze sword handle. The archaeologists plan to extract a tooth from one of the skulls and submit it to DNA-analysis to find out where the unwelcome and unlucky visitors might have arrived from.

The estimated length of the ship is 18 meters with a width of 3.5 meters. The excavations will continue next year by the village schoolhouse, where the bow of the ship is expected to be found. In 2008, a smaller ship with an estimated length of 10 meters was discovered during excavations in Salme.