Monthly Archives: July 2007

Today I bought a…

I have needed a new camera for a time, as mine has been singing on the last verse for all to long. Today I bought my new baby, a Nikon Coolpix S500.

The result of the photos will have to wait ‘til Saturday, when I return to Stockholm and can install the camera and the software on my computer.

 Magnus Reuterdahl

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

The Testimony in Spanish

As I checked my blog statistics for yesterday I came across a new one for me, Using this tool one can translate a webpage into another languish, in this case someone translated it to Spanish, and in Spanish the name of my blog becomes: Testimonio de la espada; El Archaeology es impuestos bien vividos! Though my Spanish is awful at best I could detect that there were some translation errors, for Example regarding the name Ebba During where her last name was translated to Ebba “durante“.Cool tool though, if you are interested in reading my blog in Spanish do it here.

On another note you can look forward to some pictures of Bronze Age rock carvings from an area just south of Enköping, Uppland, and a couple rune stones. While visiting a friend, who has a summer house there, this weekand we did a small photo safari amongst the ancient monument and remains in the area.

Magnus Reuterdahl

A rune stone in Hjortsberga parish, Sm 5

On the front of the rune folder that I presented in a previous post is the rune stone Sm 5 (Småland number five according to the book Smålands runinskrifter) or Raa 35:1 in Hjortsberga parish, Alvesta municipality.

Rune stone Sm 5

The rune stones form does remind of the erect stones I presented in my last post, but there are differences if you look at the wide part in the bottom of the stone. Another difference is the obvious one, the runes.


The inscription is as follows:

kotr : sati : sten : þana : eftR : ketil : sun : sin : han : faR : mana : mesr o:niþikR : eR a : eklati : ali : tunþi

In English:

“Gautr placed this stone in memory of Ketill his son. He was the most unvillainous of men, who forfeited his life in England.”

The latest interpretation is made by runologist Helmer Gustavson 2005: “Göt satte denna sten efter Ketill, sin son. Han var av män mest rättrådig. Han slöt sitt liv i England.”

Rune stone Sm 5 E and S side  Rune stone Sm 5 N side

The pic on the left shows the south and the east side of the stone ande the pic to the right shows the north side.

Interesting is the reference to England, this is one of five in Småland, see also this post. Other interesting things are the stung m-rune and the appearances of the I- and k- runes.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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

From Drev to here


Today I’ve been journeying throw the northern parts of Växjö municipality. My main goal has been to observe rock carvings and their immediate surroundings. In Småland most rock carvings are made up by cup marks . These carvings are normally dated to the Bronze Age but are probably also usual during the Iron Age and later. There are a few sites that have figurative or geometric carvings as well but these are quite uncommon in these parts, in total 27 out of 497 known rock carving sites in the County.

Cup marks Berg 52

Close up at Cup marks, Raa 52, Berg Parish.

Cup marks Drev 11

Close up at cup marks, Raa 11 Drev parish.

Drev 11

Raa 11 Drev Parish.

The cup marks are often found on big boulders or on flat rocks. Evan when you know where they are supposed to be it’s not always easy to find them. Evan though the boulders often are big the grass grows high, luckly I got a GPS with me.

In the northwest area of Drev in Drev parish there are a few other monuments that are well worth seeing. For example a tripod stone setting, the information sign is though in dire need of replacement and a beautiful stone bridge.

Drev 13

Raa 13 in Drev Parish, a tripod stone setting.

Info sign Drev 13

It is high time for this signpost to die!

Drev 15

There are several beautiful bridges to see in Småland this was probably built in the 18th or 19th century. Raa 15 Drev Parish.

In the small community Drev there is a beautiful medieval church. The church was built in ca 1170 AD. As you can see on the photos there are several blocked up doors and windows. Inside there are beautiful murals from the 17th century that were uncovered in 1914 and there is also a beautiful gallery from 1697, the wreaths are preserved as memorials from child burials in the 19th century. An interesting detail with the Romanesque roof construction is that one of the long beams is ornamented; this can only be seen on a photo, as the roof is not open to the public.

Drev ka

Drev Medieval church seen from NW

Drev ka 2

Drev Medieval church seen from SW.

Drev ka interiör2

Drev ka interiör

Drev ka kransar

Some miles southeast of Drev is one of Kronobergs most beautiful grave field called Gullhögarna, Raa 401in Dädesjö parish. The biggest mound measures 24 meters in diameter and four meters in height.

Gullhögarna 1

Gullhögarna 2

Wibbling excavated one mound in 1893. Among the finds was an urn filled with cremated bones. Today there are 16 mounds but according to Knut Kjellmark (1866-1944) there have been 28. Knut Kjellmark worked as an elementary school inspector in Småland, he had a PhD in archaeology and was also a geologist. During his visits to schools he encouraged students to collect flints and other artifacts that he later collected and published. His and the school children’s contribution is still a big source regarding the prehistory of Småland, foremost regarding the Stone Age.

This is my post on this edition of the blog carnival Four Stone hearth (XVIII) to see the others check out Clioaudio. Observe that the launch of the XVIII ed. is onWendsday the 4th of July.

Magnus Reuterdahl

%d bloggers like this: