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Museum Confirms Salme Find as Oldest Known Viking Sailing Ship

Excavations at the ship burial site in Salme
Excavations at the ship burial site in Salme Source: Photo: ERR

The Estonian Maritime Museum's research says one of the ancient ships found in archeological excavations in Salme in 2008 was was so seaworthy that it could have been used as a sailed warship on the open sea.

"The Maritime Museum believes that the Salme ship number two was an advanced Viking type of ship whose very good seaworthiness allowed it to be used as a sailed warship," said marine archaeologist Vello Mäss.

That means that open-sea sailing started in the Baltic Sea region earlier than thought, Saarte Hääl reported, quoting the popular science magazine Imeline Teadus.

Mäss added that the smaller Salme ship that was discovered first was not meant to bear a sail.

"According to the Viking-era classification, only a vessel with over 12 oars was considered a ship," he said. "Salme number one was thus a large boat."

Previously marine historians thought the oldest sailing ship in the Nordics to be the Oseberg Viking ship found in Norway, thought to have been built around 800-850 CE - not as old as the Salme ships.

Kristopher Rikken

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