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Johanson, Kristiina

Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, Issue no.42 (2009)


The article concentrates on the widespread belief in the phenomenon of ‘thunderbolts’. Stone artefacts like Stone Age axes, adzes, chisels, daggers, sickles, spear- and arrowheads as well as Iron Age strike-a-lights are mainly understood by the name ‘thunderbolt’, but no doubt various natural stones of peculiar or unusual shape were believed to have been created by strike of light- ning as well. While corresponding examples of identifying and using ‘thunder- bolts’ are given from different areas of the world, the emphasis is set on the respective Estonian material, introducing both the sources of archaeology as well as of folklore. The author discusses the background and the motifs of the well-known belief in ‘thunderbolts’ and reaches the conclusion that in Estonia it cannot be dated to a period prior to the Pre-Roman Iron Age when stone arte- facts were no longer produced for practical reasons, and it is believed that the motifs of the belief were adopted significantly later, perhaps after the Chris- tianization of the country in the 13th century.

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