Amongst Runes, ships and foot soles in Uppland

This weekend I visited a friend who has a summerhouse just south of Enköping in Uppland. In the area surrounding his “estate” are many interesting ancient monuments and remains, among them some fantastic rock art. In this case rock carvings from the Bronze Age (c. 1800-550 BC). We also stopped at a couple of rune stones; two that are used as stones in a church wall and one is a rune stone without runes.In Upland there are over 800 known rock carving sites, most of them can be found in the vicinity of Enköping. Many pictures are painted which makes them easy to spot.

Rock art

A ship at the site Brandskogsskeppet.

Rock art human

A human at the site Brandskogsskeppet.

First stop was at Brandskogsskeppet (The Brandskogs Ship), which is one of Upplands, most famous rock carvings. The carvings were discovered in 1925. The carvings are made upon flat rock; there are the big ship (c. 4 meter), several smaller ships, foot soles and cup marks.  The foot soles have been interpreted in different ways, a popular theory is that they represent a God, that can’t be showed in another way. Some of these foot soles are filed and some are just contours, some have put forward that this could one represents females and the other males. Just above the carvings were a cairn or large stone setting that was excavated in 1926.

Rock art Branskogsskeppet

The ship Branskogsskeppet.

On the big ship the prows are shaped like elk heads, the human that can be interpreted as carrying the ship has been discussed in several articles. Is he/she carrying the ship, swimming or doing something else? I believe that it could be argued that the image symbolize a part of a story that is lost to us, but at the time probably was well recognized, a part of a collective memory. There are another six humans connected to the carving, the men/women who are paddling the ship.

Rock art Brandskogsskeppet detail

The man “holding up” or swimming by the ship. 

 

Rock art Brandskogsskeppet detail 2

The six persons paddling the ship.

The second stop was at Rickeby, which is known for a “chair”. The Chair is a deep carving that has been interpreted as a chair, throne or a stool. The “chair” has later been interpreted as a man’s cloak. On the flat rock there are more than 180 figures; the chair, foot soles, 35 ships, five humans, rings, spirals and cup marks among others.

Rock art - ”the chair”

“The chair” or the “the cloak” at Rickeby.

Rock art - foot soles

Foot soles, cup-marks and other figures.

Rock art dog

A dog/wolf or fox at Rickeby

The third stop was Hemsta. On the flat rock on can find 210 ships, 20 humans, 67 animals and over 100 cup marks and yet a big number of diverse geometric symbols. I was here a few years ago when it was newly painted, then this site was impressive. Today, though, it is in dire need of refilling (with paint) the figures, the colors are bleak and many figures are difficult to identify.

Rock art Hemsta

Ships at Hemsta.

Rock art foot sole with toes

A filled foot sole with toes.

On our way home we stopped at Kungs-Husby church from the 13th century, but as you can see, there has happened a lot since then. On the south side of the church two rune stones are walled in.

The Church Kungs-Husby

Kungs-Husby Church

Rune stone U 707

U 707

“… * ysurkR –… * stan * þina * at * ka-…(n) * faþur * sen * koþan * (h)… * hier * man * stanta * stan * ——–i ** bali * risti * r(u)–r * þis– *”

Translated to English: Ósyrgr … this stone in memory of … his good father … Here will the stone stand … Balli carved these runes.

The stone was re discovered in 1965 of which one can read more in Fornvännen 1966:29.

Rune stone U 708

U 708

* kali * l-t (r)…–a * stn * (a)t * sigraif * brþur * — …un * sairR *”

Translated to English: Kali had the stone raised in memory of Sigreifr, his brother, <sairR>’s son(?).

The last rune stone (U FV1955;219) we visited hasn’t gotten any runes carved but the ornamental art is of the type that is normally found on rune stones. This stone was found in 1953 when the road where it today stand were to be widened. The figures are two animals.

Rune stone U FV1955;219

U FV1955;219 (FV=Fornvännen)

The evening ended with a few glasses of red wine to many but all in good company, many thanks to Anders Olsson, who guided us to the rock art and shared wine and houseroom during the night.

Anders Olson at Brandskogskeppet

Anders Olson at Brandskogsskeppet 2007-07-10.

This is my contribution to the 19th edition of the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival that is hosted by Sherdnerd, be sure to check out the other contributions there.

 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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