The Vikings have become more and more of a talking point on Saaremaa in the last 10 or so years. Now that the lynchpin of the island’s Viking history – the unearthed Salme ships – has made its way back to Saaremaa, 2021 has been declared Year of the Viking.
Read this page to find out what Viking-era experiences are to be had on Saaremaa!
ASVA VIKING VILLAGE
Asva Viking Village has made its home where the Vikings originally settled and established a fortress.
In the fortress, you can hone your skills in archery and axe-throwing and try lots of fun Viking games. Furry and feathered friends look forward to greeting you in the animal park.
HIIEVÄLJA ARCHERY RANGE
Archery is an historical art of war which was also practised by the Vikings.
On Saaremaa, you too can practise it at Hiievälja Archery Range, which is suited to both beginners and more experienced archers.
ARCHEBALD MEDIEVAL ACTIVITY CENTRE
Rather than just being an onlooker, you can enjoy a true medieval experience for yourself at Archebald.
Old-fashioned working techniques and technology can be seen. You can test your Viking skills, for example on the rope-spinning machine or at archery.
On 21 May a new exhibition opened at Kuressaare Castle. Called ‘The Vikings before the Vikings’, it consists of new findings from Salme’s Viking ship.
In addition, visitors can view detailed models of Viking ships, experience the battle of Salme via a true-to-life four-minute animation and meet the interactive Viking King. www.saaremaamuuseum.ee
‘ORM’ VIKING SHIP
Orm’s captain built the vessel from start to finish, his only help helpers being his family. He is an example of the potent Viking blood flowing in the veins of the people of Saaremaa.
Using historical sources and ancient work processes, he built an authentic Viking ship. Visitors to the island can even use it to go on voyages.
An integral part of Viking culture was the daring sea voyages they undertook. Salme’s other Viking ship was most likely one of the first sailboats to traverse the waters of the Baltic Sea.
Around 1200 years after the Vikings, the Hoppet began to sail the Baltic Sea. The ship is the oldest historical sailboat built in Estonia that is still in use today.
THE VÄINAMERI SEA’S ‘UISK’
Islanders described the slender Viking ship using the word huisk, which meant ‘snake’. Huisk is similar to the Estonian translation of ‘ice skate’, which is uisk.
The Skate can now be used once again to sail out to sea and admire the beautiful coast of the Baltic Sea.
PIHTLA BREWERY’S ‘VIKING SCREAM’
In honour of the Year of the Viking, Pihtla Brewery released a special brew: ‘Viking Scream’. A full-on raid of juicy hops is followed by the slight sourness of blood-red cherries. A hearty taste experience for the bravest of us in honour of the Year of the Viking! This beverage contains alcohol. Alcohol is bad for your health.
Today’s footballers are as selfless, uncompromising and fearless as the Vikings a thousand years ago. To symbolise the fighting spirit of the club and the perseverance of its ancestors, the club’s mascot is the Viking Thor.
SAAREMAA MUSEUM’S VIKING GAME
The playing pieces in the whale bone game form part of the Viking strategy game known as Hnefatafl. The games come in a beautiful leather bag that doubles as the game board. Instructions in Estonian and English are provided.
SAAREMAA MUSEUM’S VIKING COMB
Hygiene was very important to the Vikings. There were a lot of combs made from the horns of elk and reindeer among the Salme ship discoveries. They were lavishly decorated and 20 cm long.
SAAREMAA MUSEUM’S VIKING JEWELLERY
Many beads made form different materials were found on the Salme ships. Glass, bone and bone-porcelain copies of the Salme ship discoveries and jewellery inspired by Viking patterns can be found at Saaremaa Museum.
To remember your trip to the Viking island, be sure to buy a souvenir. Nothing says Saaremaa quite like a magnet or necklace made from juniper. They are particularly eye-catching when adorned with the symbols of the Year of the Viking.