Saaremaa, the Salme ships, and the Kaali meteor crater.
Two viking ship burials discovered in 2008 near Salme village in Saaremaa, Estonia.
Saaremaa is the largest island outside the Estonian mainland, and is a wellknown and important island through Scandinavian history, Danish name Øsel, Swedish Ösel. Ösel was the gate to the river Dvina, Eastern Europe and Constantinople. (The other possible route was through Ladoga).
The town arms of the island is a Viking ship!
And this has been long before anyone knew about the hidden Salme ships.
In Salme there was a fierce battle in 700-something, and 42 Vikings were killed. They were buried in two ships along with their possessions. Among these a number of hnefatafl game pieces, some sources say 71 ordinary pieces and a king piece.
The king piece was placed in the mouth of the most distinguished person, to judge from his weapons, belongings and placement in the ship, he must have been the leader.
So here we have real Viking age people at sea and remembering to bring their hnefatafl games. And the hnefatafl king piece is so charged with importance that it is used by his surviving men to point out the war lord.
The hnefatafl game pieces can be seen here:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_dtxp5iCPBGo/S ... gaming.jpg
More information about the discovery here:
http://salmepaat.blogspot.dk/search/lab ... 20shipfind
http://ahjaohmatkal.blogspot.dk/2009/01 ... remaa.html
and the complete, scientific paper
(Hat tip: Olli Salmi)
The Kaali meteor crater.
Saaremaa is an island full of history. Another distinguished place on the island is the Kaali meteor crater.
The meteor impact caused an explosion the same size as the Hiroshima bomb, and the Danish scientist Kaare Lund Rasmussen (archaeometry) and his team determined the time of the impact to be 400-370 B.C.
The meteor impact was noticed by people (iron age), and eye witness traditions can be traced in historical sources.
Until 1800 the name of the meteor lake from ancient times was "the sacred lake".
98 A.D. Tacitus wrote, that the Estonians worship the mother of gods, which is usually identified with Cybele, a goddess associated with meteorites.
The Greek Pytheas reports 325 B.C. from an island in the Baltic Sea, "the barbarians showed us the place, where the sun went to bed".
The impact is also mentioned in the Finnish Kalevala epic.
The Estonian president Lennart Meri, who was also a historian, thanked personally Rasmussen for his discovery, because the time measurement 400-370 B.C. supports the Estonian legend, which tells that the myth of Ragnarok started at Kaalijärv.
Kaare Lund Rasmussen's scientific paper (June 5th, 2000) is here:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 1493.x/pdf
and a lecture by Rasmussen on the same subject, sent in Danish Television June 26th, 2012:
(I visited the charming island Saaremaa in 1995 myself and saw the Kaali crater, the Kuressaare castle and museum and other historical places.)