New Estonian Boat Graves

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One or more boat burials have just been excavated on the Estonian island of Saaremaa! Rich weapon burials with multiple inhumations, provisionally dated to the 8th century (though I’m pretty sure they’ll turn out to be 9th century). Check out the Salmepaat blog!

Via Kristin Ilves on the Swedish archaeology mailing list.


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    October 27, 2008
  2. #2 Masks of Eris
    October 27, 2008

    I went, I checked out, I felt confused since a Finn trying to read Estonian inevitably feels like that (“That word can’t mean what I think… they wouldn’t talk about genitalia in a post like this, would they?”), and I came back.

    Is this a boat-buried-in-earth burial or the grandiose boat-burned-in-place sort? Or am I revealing my gross ignorance of the subject by asking this?

  3. #3 christina seehusen
    October 27, 2008

    Martin, this is extremely interesting. I wrote my MA on boat graves from the Roman Iron Age (yes, there are NUMEROUS boat graves from that period) and I collect information on boat graves as I – some day – plan to compile an update of Müller-Willes overview of all boat graves in Northern Europe.

    What makes you believe it is rather 9th than 8th century? Are there any dateable finds?

    Cheers, C.

  4. #4 Martin R
    October 27, 2008

    Masks, these are unburnt ones, hence the clench-nails still in place and showing the boat’s structure.

    Christina, there are hardly any 8th century Late Vendel Period boat graves anywhere. 9th century ones of the Early Viking Period are more common.

  5. #5 Soren Larsen
    October 27, 2008

    Martin, The English boatgraves are however 6th-7th century
    and the Bornholm boatgraves are part of Christina’s numerous roman iron age boatgraves.

  6. #6 Martin R
    October 27, 2008

    I didn’t say that there are no pre-Viking boat graves, just that they are very rare. I’d like the Estonian ones to be 8th century!

  7. #7 christina
    October 31, 2008

    let’s wait and see…

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