Lihulinn ring fort
The mightiest of the ring forts on Saaremaa is Kärla ring fort, Lihulinn. It is situated away from any village, in a pine forest surrounded by sand dunes, and partially surrounded by mires and fens. The fort was well defended by its natural location. In addition to its site, a small stream still flows on its northwest side. This stream was probably much larger in the past. Since the land has risen during the ensuing centuries, the sea was also much closer. To the east and northeast there are three and four meter high sand bluffs. When the fort was constructed, these sand bluffs were united, thus forming an oval ring, with walls that rose to ten meters.
The diameter of the fort is 270 meters by 70 meters. The walls enclose an area of almost 18 000 square meters, the largest on Saaremaa. Archaelogical excavations have brought to light half-burned logs and charcoal bits, (a layer of 20 to 60 cm.). These apparently belonged to the fort's wooden defenses.
During the centuries, to the 1200's, when Saarlanders were active raiders on the shores of the Baltic Sea, this fort provided a central gathering place and safety from reprisals. Saaremaa oral tradition has preserved the story of Saaremaa raiders bringing back as booty the gates of the imperial Swedish administrative center, Sigtuna. These gates ended up in Novgorod, where they are still very much in existence.
Apparently they did not quite fit as gates to Lihulinn.