Erect tombstones, grave fields and such.

When you travel an area for enough times you begin to discover things that stand out, in this case I do surveys regarding ancient monuments. In previous posts I’ve written about the special Iron Age dolmens, this time I thought that I would put a special form of erect stones on display.

Erected stones are markers for prehistoric graves, they are found on grave fields and standing all alone or in small groups. They can also stand on mounds, in Sweden it is generally so that erect stones represent male graves and round stone sphere represent female graves. This hypostasis is general and absolute and is referred to regarding mounds and in some cases filled stone settings from the Iron Age.

Inglinge mound

Inglinge mound

An example is Inglinge mound; this example is though a bit extreme. The great mound that had been called Inglinge mound has both an erected stone and an ornated stone sphere. Around this massive mound, these giants are often referred to as a kings or queens mound, a varied grave field is set. It is one of the biggest in Småland, containing ca 130 graves (Raa 1 in Östra Torsås parish). The great mound is dated to ca 500 AD and the oldest, a cairn, could be as old as from the Bronze Age. In the 1930’s three graves were excavated, these are dated to Viking Age (ca 800-1050 AD). In other words there is a very long continuity, which isn’t all that unusual when it comes to large grave fields. The mound and the grave field can be found in Ingelstad, Östra Torsås parish, Växjö municipality.

Erect stone and stone sphere

The erect stone and the ornated stone sphere on top of Inglinge mound.

Ship setting

An unfilled stone setting in form of a ship on the grave field Raa 1 in Östra Torsås parish.

The stones I referred to in the beginning of the post are a bit unusual, regarding the shape. A “normal” erect stone looks something like this and is perhaps between 0.5 m – 1 m high and 0.4-0.8 m wide.

The pictures are taken upon two places in the municipal of Alvesta. The first ones are standing just south of and just west of a small grave field in Blädinge parish (Raa 4). The stones just west of the grave field have probably once belonged to the grave field but have been separated due to the crossing road. The grave field and the erect stones are dated to the Iron Age. Within this beautiful grave field there are 28 monuments; 16 mounds, seven round filled stone settings, four erect stones and one stone circle.

Grave field

Stone circle with normal erect stones on Raa 4 in Blädinge parish.

One the other side of the road stands three erect stones (Raa 94:1-3), of which two has the form I seek. They can be described as pointing to the sky and has a base that is wider on one side, see photos. There have been at least four more stones in this area around 1900 AD.

Erect stone Erect stone 2

Raa 94:2 and 94:3 just west of the grave field.

Some hundred meters south of the grave field is another of these pointing stones (Raa 3 in Blädinge parish).

Erect stone 3

Raa 3 in Blädinge parish.

Some miles north of these monuments in Lekaryds parish is the grave field Raa 63 called Kungsbackarna (The King’s hills). A great cairn canters the grave field; there are also several stone settings. In the south end of the grave field just by the road stands an erect stone of the “pointing” type.

On this grave field ten stone settings were excavated in 1966 as they were building a new road, among the finds were weapon details from the Iron Age (ca 500 BC-1050 AD) though the big cairn might go back to the Bronze Age.

 Cairn on Lekaryd 63

The great cairn that centers the grave field Raa 63 in Lekaryd parish.

This is a usual way to date prehistoric grave fields, as the big cairns normally are dated to the Bronze Age when they aren’t on a grave field they are also dated as such on the grave fields, this might very well be true, but I don’t feel certain. There are a great need for excavations of grave fields in this part of the country to gain new knowledge that is based on scientific method and modern excavations.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

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