Mound and stoneship

Mound and stone ship

This header should cover bigger mounds and megalith stone ships from Bronze Age. In Denmark they made them mostly of turf and inside there is usually one or several oak coffin with burials. In some place the conditions have been good so we have got so many remains that we get a good picture of the buried nobility

Mound, big mound, Time burial, Silbury Hill, cremation, Sarmatian influence, ringsword, Amazon, Shield Maiden, megalith stone ship, Askeberga, Blomsholm, Ale's stones, Badelunda, folkland, Kivik grave, small stone ship Lindholm

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Part 1 Stones - The Vi | Part 2 dolmen - cists | Part 3 doomring - thing | Part 4  Olympos of Nordal |

It was hard to convince me that this is a natural hill. The upper part is an artificial mound. In 1840 there was 68 mounds of which four were about 8 metres in diameter. The railroad needed a water tank on the hill and it is still there inside.

Still I wonder about the hill if it is natural. In a way there need to be a big mound since every ancient folkland on Dal has it's own big mound. However we have a real big one on the Olympos of Nordal.

This header should cover the big mound in Bronze Age. In Denmark they made them of mostly of turf and inside there is usually one or several oak coffin with burials. In some place the conditions have been good so we have got so many remains that we get a good picture of the buried nobility ... see Bronze Age dresses. The mounds are usually placed on the top of the hills. Sometimes single sometimes in pair and in a few places we see long rows on a ridge.

This is Kaarehaug from Dal and its nearby mate or queen mound is a little smaller.

It is typical for Dal that the big mounds are low and big. Some are made of smaller stones ... The Olympos of Nordal seems to be a place of ritual burials. Here on Dal we have a few of the big type and they are normally low and wide 25 metres diameter. Since there is only one big mound in each former folkland it can only have been some occasional fashion that made these. Another size is 12 to 15 metres diameter and they are often in pair and even these are occasional.

In both cases may be a sunken rectangle indicating that there may have been a coffin. Since we know that the priest = thegn or "speaker" was important in the folkland these burials may be a priests or priestesses. There are few of them and it speaks for a period when they made a special burial for their leader.

It may also be a change of time or other reason to celebrate. We can never prove that they were tyrants and chieftains, since the mounds are often made for females. They could not order people after their dead and we see no continuous custom with many big mounds.

Still maybe there is another reason to some of the sunken rectangles. There can have been a standing stone and someone has needed it in the past. Those stones were in the usable shape and size for using everywhere in buildings such as in the foundation.

Sweden is big and in those days with many wildernesses. Then the population was mostly concentrated in places with easily used land. Surely mostly used for cattle. On Dal the pollen curves shows seed in a period ca 1300 to 1100 BC and it became continuos about 500 BC.

In Sweden and the landscape of forests everywhere we have still many mounds of different shape and size. In the landscape of my childhood in Denmark there is only one kind of mound besides the megalith remains. It is the Bronze Age mound that has left us so much of information about the upper class from which we cannot generalise too much.

To this mound belongs a folk tale about the cruel king Kaare. It tells that he was buried in a skin of an ox and the verse:

He loosen a hair every hundred years

"It draws but it goes"

Said king Kaare.

We call this gallows humour in a long bench.

This folk memory sounds real since they have found people buried that way in Bronze Age. Maybe Kaare was a trader with a farm and many cows. Nearby are suitable places for a harbour at Lake Vaenern in the mouth of the Dalbergsaa River. There is a big hoard find from Viking Age showing the presence of traders. There are also two place names Copperbyn and Tinbarn

Maybe some of them are Time burial as a symbol for change of world order in their world. In West Europe are many mounds and some of them are empty. Some of the big mounds have names after known and unknown gods before Viking Age. You cannot bury a god so such kind of mound can only be symbolic.

In Egypt they made a new time configuration about 1159 BC, since the precession had made the fix-stars out of date. The new stars were Aries or Khnum; Cancer or a Pillar with a Bird; Libra or an odd couple of a lady and a man with bear-head, I think and fourth Aquila or an eagle with the Ammon feathers. For Europé even the Phoenician symbols were current and they were for Aries Cetus a Whale; Cancer a Hand; Libra the sitting Tinia and at Aquila two entwined snakes like the caduceus. We see this change of Time in our rock-carvings too.

That is the reason why we should search other explanations than that the burials contend some big cruel chieftain. Christianity prefers that explanation and that there were no law, order and moral before the monks and priest taught the wild Europeans to obey … Not to forget that they have found many women in the coffins, which would speak for matriarchy.

The Celtic and Scandinavian tradition is simply of another kind. Once we hear that druids were law-men, aldermen, singers and wise men and they lead their communities and folklands … then it does not fit together that their were cruel chieftains.

On Dal and neighbouring Gautaland is a very strong tradition that the law-room of peasants was lead by their lawmen. Besides this we also can se tradition with two leaders. One of them alderman and the other worldly leader. Farther back some folklands were maybe lead by a priestess. In a manifold we have to be open for several solutions.

Anyway up to my knowledge and many more facts there is no room for cruel chieftains … at least only as exceptional cases. In mankind we have always now and then some Hitler, Musolini, Stalin and such mad bulls.

Best known big empty mound is Silbury Hill in southern England of course. The original shape seems to be the "Earth Eye" or it is picturing the connection between Cancer and Hydra in the animal round. Another special mound is a mound near Slagelse West Zealand that may be in the ziggurat shape.

Here I write only about the establishments that surely have been for ritual purposes and they contend the ideas of society. In Bronze Age began the custom of cremation. In some cases they put the ashes in an urn and buried that in the surface of the big mound. It is not easy to get a fire for the cremation. To that they needed to know how to get a fast hot fire. The skill came with the metallic age.

Another fashion was to burn them on a high rock and make a little stony mound over the place. These mounds are 1 to 3 metres in diameter. From Iron Age we see several other shapes that may have a ritual meaning. A qualified guess is that they are symbolising time and the wish for resurrection in the same way as we see in the early ritual burials.

Nobody cares for these mounds that seem to be of the kind with a wooden chamber inside. On the other of these two at the bush we can still see the beams inside.

Best known of this kind in Denmark is near North Sea at Ringkauping. They have found a wagon of the Scythian type in the chamber. That is of course why I would prefer excavating even at these mounds that are R-markt on the map. The R-mark means "protected ancient monument", but during my wanderings in the forest I have seen that the law is a paper tiger when it comes to protecting ancient monuments.

There has surely been some Scythian or Sarmatian influence on Scandinavia the last millennium BC. Some of the finds speak for immigrants, while others can be the normal trade bringing cultural items. If it was a great migration I think we should see more evidence than e few artefacts.

Russian archaeologists have been excavating Sarmatian grave chambers and they have found that the Amazons seem to have existed at least for a period. In the graves are women with weapon and all that, while men are buried with pottery and such things. Most interesting for us is the sword called "ringsword" since there is a ring as knob. They explain it that for the always-riding people it was necessary to have the sword in a string. However some of them have a crossed ring that maybe symbol for something

This sword type shows many finds from Elbe northward and in southern Denmark. Then it is a question where did they make them. Was it a common type that all made like the boat shaped axe found between Ural and the Atlantic. This sword type is found far in Mongolia.

For Greeks and maybe macho Latin Europeans equality between man and woman seem to be a crime since the Greeks. But in the Celtic world including Scandinavia we stayed equal until the feudal class grew strong. They needed the supreme right to heritage so they could afford to pay for their weapons, armours and other macho signs.

Woman is strong in Celtic myth and also in the Edda however we see the feudalism crawling in there. It was written in 13th century. Still they speak about the Shield Maiden and there are finds of woman warriors at Rhine in Roman Age. In our rock-carvings the woman is often hidden in cupmarks and the fact that the moon and leading stars were female. I am fostered to the original equality but the urbanised and industrialised society alienated women and that is why we have red-stockings today.

There is a TV programme from some Pazaryk grave of a woman with rich gifts, tattoos and her elegance. Local people think she was a singer and she was of course a rider too. That is poetic in my taste. We can wonder about the trinity symbolism with the Stag, Horse and Capricorn. Was it from their nature or was it from the night sky?

We have to understand the importance of songs and music those days. The singers carried the folk memory. In urban Sumer and Egypt song and music was important and it was of course a mean in indoctrinating people. Inanna saw some problem in getting young men into agriculture. Song and music make it easier to learn and remember things. The Sumerian songs are often long and with the important verses coming again and again. Even the Kalevala tradition was carried by their singers.

The Horse/ Ale's Stones / Ale Stenar

End of line for the ancient calendar.

This rock contains pieces from the Sigurd myth when he fought the Dragon. He tastes the blood of the Dragon and soon he understands birds' song. Regin was shortened by a heads length. However there is more when we see the Yggdrasil tree and the eagle and hawk and of course the Horse.

The rest of it is much older symbolism. It should be to snakes but in this case one of them is split in two and connected. The symbol on the joint is "rising moon node" we see on early medieval calendar sticks too. In the end of the lower snake there is a little bit. That is 11 days of the 13th moon when they synchronise moon year and sun year. That is seen in many rock-carvings. Under the snake there is the Berserk = Bearwatcher we know from the animal round but also as idol for the real man.

Now to the advanced vi/ weoh called The Horse in old days.


Grand Old Man of Archaeology Oscar Montelius show his opinion 1917 at a time the ship-settings were not yet reconstructed. At right the modern diagram by Lund's University

From early 16th century we can notice in the bookkeeping of Lund's cathedral it was called The Horse. That associates to astronomy and the time when vernal equinox was decided when the full moon was in some star in Pegasus, the Horse. … see Pegasus at Lerfald for the beginning of the period with the horse. It seems to be imported from Cartage.


The coin of Hardaknud made in Lund from the beginning of 11th century is one of a few with the Weoh. The Eagle is called Merovingian Eagle but it is of course that old Sune Eagle.

From his time three of his coins have the Horse standing with forelegs in the Weoh. The Swedish king Anund gave also a coin with the Horse and even the later king Svend Estridsen d 1074 AD gave one with the Horse among his many coins since his reign was long. The Danish kings established the archbishop in Lund and he became responsible of timekeeping … on early coins we have usually the king on one side and time symbolism on the other side or other time-symbolism on both sides.

We could say that the time-keeping tradition continued around 1400 AD when in the cathedral of Lund build Horologium Mirabile Lundense as advanced timekeeper. It is divided in two parts and on top of the clock there are two knights that mark the hours. The upper board of the clock is the astronomical clock. It shows, among other things, the different phases of the Moon and where the Sun sets. The lower board of the clock is a calendar. With the help of it one can, among other things, calculate when different mobile religious holidays will fall and on which weekday a certain date will fall … it is just like the Horse monument if we only got instructions how to use

The name Ale Stenar is from 17th century when antiquity became organised. Some people needed a glorious ancient king and so king Ale was born. Most archaeologists and many archaeoastronomers have made it "cult" to tell about sun cult. Or they are as academic as Curt Roslund that suggested that these were deliberately made parables. I doubt that practical and pragmatic farmers would fly high in cosmos and higher mathematics.

The Horse/ Ale Stones in Skaane South Sweden is mighty with 60 stones

This monument is showcase for all big stone ship in Scandinavia and there are 18 longer than 40 meter and about 100 longer than 25 meter. Normally we only mention the biggest and make it a showcase. I would like to know more about 118 big stone ships and the spread.

It is 67 metres long and wide at most 19 metres. But most important is that it is only 150 metres to the sea, which gives a stable horizon. In ancient times they often place the observatory at a cape to get a good horizon.

The stone ship has a "little brother" not far away inland with 30 stones. It should be mentioned at the same time since in connection there is a couple of stones with cupmarks. We normally connect these to at latest last millennium BC.

Bob G. Lind has made it his life-work to prove that this was made and used for observation of celestial events. The astronomers and archaeologists deny his explanations and tell that this is a grave from Roman Age. Memory of folklore is often short and not too precise and tells it is King Ale's grave.

Bob is of course right. Every stable configuration of something like stones could be used for observations. But not every arrangement gives the possibility to detailed observations and a memory by using the stones as reference. So his table of events is true. The configuration contends 30 stones on each side as for the half-years and the shape is the same as in many medieval astrolabes. Bob G. Lind has made it his life-work to prove that this was made and used for observation of celestial events.

The astronomers and archaeologists deny his explanations and tell that this is a grave from Roman Age. Folklore tells it is King Ale's grave.

Stone number 29

Stone number 29 have a clear configuration made with cupmarks showing the asterism Swan. That could have been current ca 500 BC, if I read my Sky Chart right. However the asterism could have been used for hundreds of years, since this is the earliest date. It would be natural that they marked the stone when they build it and then celebrating the asterism for Ramadan. Stars and asterisms are use for the moon calendar and that is why I can not see any sun cult. The Sun is the third "heavenly object" in ancient astronomy.

The Scandinavian archaeologist would never recognise astronomy as part of society I think. They say that the stone is re-use. I do not know how they think, then it has be used somewhere still. But it is remarkable that the Nr. 29 should have marched back to its right place in crescent bows/zodiac?

Another stone has a configuration of four cupmarks that may be the Vega / Lyre. These are not sure proof, since the stone could have been transported and reused. However seldom we see that kind of celestial configuration without connection to astronomy. They normally date rock-carvings to earlier than AD. I think we should consider such facts and demand for further investigations.

Andrew M. Kobos has made good monographs with his own photos. Märta Strömstedt from Lund's University have furnished him with the archaeological material

Sand he has also been consulting Curt Roslund at Chalmers Gothenburg. They all oppose the amateur Bob Lind, while I think he has some points. One of them is the lack of interest shown in the fact there is no fence around the stones. Cattle do their things between the stones. So look out if you make a visit. In a TV-program Bob pointed at the Swan at Stone 29, but Roslund just laughed at him. I have some doubts when an archaeoastronomer do not know the asterism Swan… they are making the place better nowadays year 2006!

Another part of the problem is dating. They have some C14 samples from lose objects and I would not rely too much on such things. One pot is dated to 330 - 540 AD. They have another taken from the soil under one of the stones that shows 540 - 650 AD. The archaeologists set around 700 AD for the settings. The geologist discovered that some of the stones are transported 25 miles from neighbourhood of Simrishamn where the sandstone occurs.

Bob Lind insisted that they should dig some yards outside the stem and they got the date 3300 - 3000 BC from some sooty stones. That is not good archaeology, but the site is so important that it deserves mark radar investigating in an area a good bit from the stone settings. Then they would maybe tell about the old cultural place. Observe that present stone ship was reconstructed 1956. Photo from 1914 shows that many of the stones were out of place then.

Now after writing about the Moon Wheel / Medicine Wheel and the known Indian system of naksatras = 28 home of the moon I think the arrangement is an astrolabe and the Swan at Stone 29 is evidence since at this point they put in the intercalated home to even years.

Detail of calendar stick from Jarestad near Simrishamn

We see the descending node of the moon at 29 August and the rising node at 17 September. The medieval farmer's made their calendars in the old fashion style. Historically the references stars have been Lyre, Swan, Dog = Sagittarius. Nowadays only astrologers know about the nodes the Dragon Eye and the Dragon Tail that is the reference points when they follow the so-called Saros cycle when the moon reach the same point at the ecliptic. Then they can also calculate eclipses.

Naturally we can conclude that people in Skaane needed some manifestation as memory of the method of following the moon through new moon, full moon and the fortnights. Then they could also synchronise with the sun year.

ADDED 17 November 2006-11-17

The radar investigations on surface created a lot of new questions

At the symposium 16 November the authorities published some new facts. However they do not give any knowledge since we get to know only what we see here and some digging is needed. Still it is a step forward and I have asked for it some years.

Big Stone ship

Stony ship from Baukersboda West Gautaland

Establishments of this size and shape we have in several places in Sweden. The biggest is maybe Askeberga West Gautaland 55 x 20 metres with 24 big boulders in height 1,5 to 3 metres. Blomsholm in Bohuslaen stone-ship is 42 metres long with 49 stones and stem and stern is around 4 metres high.

The tradition tells that the big ships were ting places for ritual and law order. Using ships for manifestation and burials began in the middle of Bronze Age. It was a suitable symbol for a time when they sailed in space-time. There was no difference between real sailing and sailing on the Time River ... and even in the Otherworld. This is a question about which words they and we use and for us how well we understand poetry and shortened tales with pictorial words.

Stony ship from Baukersboda West Gautaland

Establishments of this size and shape we have in several places in Sweden. The stone ship has a "little brother" inland with 30 stones. It should be mentioned at the same time since in connection there is a couple of stones with cupmarks. We normally connect these to at latest last millennium BC.

The biggest is maybe at Lejre near Roskilde there is only a part left but they calculate it to 87 meters. At Forlov Skaane there is one 80 meters long. Askeberga West Gautland 55 x 20 metres with 24 big boulders in height 1,5 to 3 metres. Blomsholm in Bohuslaen stone-ship is 42 metres long with 49 stones and stem and stern is around 4 metres high. In Scandinavia there are 18 ships longer than 40 meters and 100 longer than 25 meters. The big ships should surely be in one category of commons ships for thing and ritual.

The tradition tells that the big ships were ting places for year ritual and law order. Using ships for manifestation and burials began in the middle of Bronze Age. It was a suitable symbol for a time when they sailed in space-time. There was no difference between real sailing and sailing on the Time River ... and even in the Otherworld. This is a question about which words they and we use and for us how well we understand poetry and shortened tales with pictorial words.

These are in Badelunda Vaestmanland. Why should they make two ships for a grave?

Maybe there wereor half-years. Round circles are found in pair like Avebury and probably Birkendegaard at Zealand. Whenever we see two or more identical big stone ships in a row we naturally ask is it possible that two died at the same time. In some ships they have found a fireplace in it. They made fire at Beltaine not only in Celtic Europe but also in Celtic Scandinavia and we have still the Beltaine with another name of course.

Then we may ask if these ships have been for ritual purpose at funerals and for instance as spring ritual. The Fire as such has been sacred in many places and with that follows seasonal ritual. In Sweden we have still the fire ritual at Valborg, i.e. 1st May, but in Denmark they celebrate Midsummer with fires.

As always in a manifold there are varying rituals around the same ideas and dates. People were more isolated and lived in their own "little world", the folkland. That is the term in Snorre's Edda and a folkland counted 50 adults as a rule. In crowded places in Scandinavia they were surely more, but as we see in a few Iron Age fortified places they were mad only for a few hundred.

In Linear A at Crete the compasses is one of the symbols. Then it was more than a tool. It was new invention for city builders and artists. For practising what the compasses do you need not have the tool. Two sticks and a rope will do. For making the shape of the two ships need only the idea and that they could set origin of coordinates outside the ship. There is a figure on the rock-carvings at Evenstorp that shows they played with the compasses in the same way as we all do in school.

Blomsholm in Bohuslaen and the stone-ship is 42 metres long with 49 stones and stem and stern is around 4 metres high

The ships are of V-shape in two directions and it is possible that some of them have been used as a Vi and ritual place. Any two these stone could be used as a stable astrolabe. In everyday life they needed only the dates and directions for some important occasions in the year.

There have been some discussions if our ancestors practised science, i.e. astronomy. The answer must be that at some stage they got the knowledge and learning the night sky then is science. In practice maybe only a few had the knowledge just as it is in our days.

Some scientists of today deny astronomy in our ancestors' life. I think that the evidence is overwhelming. All over the world astronomy or the stars were the true leaders. In fact the Catholic Church practised the ancient astronomy and even astrology. The four evangelists are often presented with their own asterism. Still today the moon determine the ritual year of the church even in Scandinavia.

Small stone ship

Grave of Tjelvar Gotland

The rough category big stone ship is usually more than 20 metres long. Another type is like Tjelvar's grave on Gotland. It is 16 metres long and 4 metres wide with stones tightly as boards and it is filled with stone and soil. This type is found in all sizes from 2 -- 3 meters long to this size. Some stony mounds are made in the shape of ship and are of various sizes.

The Guta saga from 13th century tells about Tjelvar as the first man on Gotland. However folk memory is also folk fantasy and not much of it seems to be right. People rather listen to spectacular stories than to boring everyday life. Still it tells about the imagination of the Gutae. The myths of Heracles are about the farm-hands day, I think. When some men became half gods their servants were just hands. Who would not make the work easy like cleaning the stable of Augeia with a flood?

Ships are of many sizes and the custom was in use until Viking Age. Many of them are burials and maybe some of them are made for a chieftain or a trader. But we know from Viking Age that the crew on the ships was equal and all-important decisions were made the democratic way. The Thing as democratic institution has a deep root and it is known from Celtic Age.

On the other hand we know about the organisation in law-rooms and where the nobility surely were living in birke or ornum in their own law-room outside farmers land. Trade was the only way to be rich and get the luxuries from for instance the Aegean sphere.

You cannot have the thing at the same time, as a tyrant is the general concept. But there may be a nobility that furnishes society with different skills even of the intellectual type such as lawmen and priests. Some in the nobility have surely kept men with weapon to defend the trade and stores.

It is more like a rule that as soon as someone has got something valuable he has to look after it and sometimes use weapons. We see that on several pedagogic rock-carvings. There is no reason to believe that it would have been otherwise backward to Ritual Age. We do not know much about a ritual society, but the logic says that then the virtual leader was ruling and the crew or the people were just legs.

In this connection we have to mention the Kivik grave from about 1400 BC. It is a chamber in a mound and it was surely made for a trader. We see it from the special feature of eight picture stones that tell a little about funeral; about the star map; the battle cart was known and also a sign of pairhood. We can immediately associate to trade with the Aegean sphere.

Maybe also the Lugnaro mound from Halland with a big eight metres ship and passage gate must be mentioned. The few artefact tell that in this was a woman and it is of course possible that there have been woman traders.

This ship under excavation in V Karup Skaane.

These essays are about the ideas of community and then the private burials are not topical. Ship graves were made from Bronze age to the Christianity and they are normally of sizes from 10 to 3 metres. Often with small standing stones as one type; another like V Karup and in Viking Age they simply made a mound over a ship. They also tell about the burning ship when the farman was burnt on his ship.

Ordinary people could not afford such luxury. For some reason archaeology and history are often about rich people with much "good" odds and ends. That is not the statistical normality we should generalise from to get some truth about mankind.

At Lindholm near Aalborg north Jutland a very big fleet of stone ships sail toward eternity. At Limfjorden traders and Vikings come together since the time of flint trade in early Stone Age. For the mammoth hunters the animal was their world and they lived every day in the mammoth. For the sailing people the ship was their castle. It was of the size and shape that it was as good at stormy North Seas as along the rivers and falls through Europe.