Nearly 900 hectares of land near the village of Kibura in Pärnu County, Southwest Estonia, has been taken under protection following large numbers of archaeological finds in the area.
The area, the low-lying mostly treeless district of Kurese, where the site of a former village known as Pakamäe is situated, straddles the border of Pärnu and Rapla Counties. It has been under archaeological investigation since 2015, and is largely uninhabited, but has yielded up finds from a variety of eras, even reportedly dating back as far as the Bronze Age, around 3,000 years ago.
Speaking to current affairs show 'Aktuaalne Kamera', archaeologist Mati Mandel said that for such a large area to be put under protection is highly unusual for Estonia.
''It's unprecedented in recent years for archaeological finds to be given this degree of conservation. A total of 24 finds have been put under protection from the first batch of digs,'' he said.
''It's crucial to save any finds from potential damage,'' he went on.
Roman, Viking finds
Digging taking place over the past two summers has already led to the discovery of artefacts and sites including an 8th century Viking burial ground and a Roman coin from around the 6th century, although its inscriptions have reportedly faded.
''The coin could have ended up in Estonia for various different reasons, perhaps as a souvenir or even used as some kind of weight,'' Mandel said.
The Western Roman empire fell in the 5th century and in any case did not reach anywhere near Estonia even at its widest extent.
Viking expansion starting in the 8th century AD and reached coastal areas of western Estonia, spreading further later on.
Other previous finds that Mandel had made at the site include a spear tip and other metal work including jewellery.
Work is to continue into next year and it is hoped that the relocation of former settlements in the area can be established more clearly. Even in modern times there has been a considerable amount of change in settlement patterns in Kurese. Up to World War Two the area was farmed, with a couple of dozen farm houses dotted around; the last inhabitant reportedly died in 1973 and it has been uninhabited ever since.
A video of finds at the site (in Estonian) is here.
Another recent archaeological site in Tallinn has led to a a vast hoard of late 15th/early 16th century finds.
Editor: Andrew Whyte