“So – that’s it. I think.”

Day 3. 29 July 2003

Tuesday. It’s the first morning on Saaremaa and I wake early – this time due to the uncomfortably hard beds – or boards – as we like to call them. The mosquito guard seems to have worked anyway and I have yet to unpack my sleeping bag, finding sheets more than enough to surfice.

I shower and dress and mae my way over to the baar for 8 o’clock for breakfast. This consists of cornflakes, juice and coffee, followed by a plate of white and malted black bread, two forms of cold meats, cheese and salad prepared for us by staff.

Our bus arrives a little after twenty past nine and we set off to Valjala where we collect our tour guide Ester. We take more twisting, turning roads between fields of barley, potatoes and farmhouses surrounded by orchards, arriving at last outside one. A set of ruins – old houses to the untrained eye – Ester soon explains to us enthusiastically that these are fifth centrury graves and very important to the history of Saaremaa.

Where we stand at Valjala is a the very centre of Saaremaa, if you take the old meanings that this is the name given to all of the western isles. The people who lived and who were buried here would have been very important in the community – possibly holding some power or a seat of government. It was also unusual in that the finds of bones had been cleaned carefully in round pits along side the graves. The reason why? No one knows…

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