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 Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.