Sarskoye Gorodishche or Sarsky fort was a medieval fortified settlement. Major Varangian finds at Sarskoye date from ca. 800 onward, indicating that it was a major (perhaps the most important) trade station on the Volga trade route between Scandinavia and Baghdad. Traces of a bath, an iron foundery, a potter's workshop and a jeweller's shop were encountered. There were two hoards of early 9th-century dirhams. Another deposit was detected in the vicinity: it contained dirhams inscribed with Runic signs, interpreted as a thanksgiving to Thor.
Side by side with this evidence of a Scandinavian presence, the native Merya element is strong. For instance, there are numerous beaver symbols made of clay: the beaver was a sacred animal for the Finns. Although cremations were encountered, inhumation is predominant. Like the Slavs and Varangians at Gnezdovo, the Merya and the Norsemen seem to have peacefully co-existed in the 9th and 10th centuries. The settlement appears to have escaped the violent clashes of the Norsemen with the indigenous population, so characteristic of the Ladoga region.
Excavations on the site begun by Count Aleksey Uvarov in 1854 revealed a number of superb Varangian objects comparable to the sites in Scandinavia, notably a Carolingian sword with the inscription 'Lun fecit'. Excavations have been undertaken intermittently since that period by many persons, including Nicholas Roerich in 1903. In his diary, Roerich complained that the site had been reduced drastically by road builders.
After Soviet archaeologists resumed excavations, they rejected the traditional attribution of the site to the Norsemen, proclaiming it the largest centre (perhaps the capital) of the Merya, a Finnic tribe which inhabited the region prior to the arrival of the Slavs. According to the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, the Merya township goes back to the 6th century, but its fortifications were constructed by the Slavs in the 10th century. The settlement suffered a decline in the late 10th century but seems to have endured until the 13th century, when it is first mentioned in a major chronicle as 'Sarskoe Gorodishche'.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.