Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Swedish History - (or prehistory) - More Than Just The Vikings!

So if you read this blog now and then, you might have noticed that we are on the road a LOT this summer. Exploring beach towns, historical sites, Swedish cities and more.

It's been fun.

I admit though, that I am a total history buff. Or prehistory buff. I love all things archaeological, old and historical.

Mostly when people think Sweden they think Vikings. They think big ships and helmets. Hell, my High School Football team was called the Vikings and our mascot had a blond wig and a horned helmet.

Sadly in my travels I have found that while Sweden has a rich rich history, there hasn't been quite a fabulous way of marketing this great history in an uber tourist friendly package.

 It is true, many of Sweden's archaeological finds are far more subtle than say, those found in Greece, or the Middle East. There are no huge buildings of marble.

Most of the constructions and remains include hefty and incredible graves that involve wandering far off the beaten path. Or reconstructed villages with archery activities and people dressed in 'I think this was in my text-book' reconstructed clothing. Most of these places are staffed by local volunteers or the unemployed.

Mostly, I enjoyed this 'rugged' wandering into the middle of nowhere, following signs that promised Runestones and rock carvings. But sometimes it was a bit confusing. Sometimes there were several signs offering up information, and they didn't always agree.

And don't get me wrong, there are some GREAT tourist friendly sites out there. I will post about a few that I have visited and loved. But I still think that there are a few of us history/archaeology buffs out there that might allow for more.

Anyways, I finally got to take The Swede to one of my favorite spots in Sweden, Tanumshede. There we got to spend the day trying to analyze art from almost 3000 years ago. I love it. Who took the time to carve these? Why? What do they mean?

In Tanum and it's surroundings there are countless rock carvings from Sweden's Bronze Age. They remain a pretty big mystery, but there are certainly many theories as to why they might be there. If you are in the neighborhood it is well worth a visit. And the neighboring Vitlycke Museum is free to the public.

These pictures aren't the best, but I tried to capture some of my favorite bits of the giant carving outside the museum.


  1. I've been there. :) Lived in Grebbestad for three years.

    I saw a documentary about rock carvings a few years ago. They made a pretty good case that some of the carvings found in the italian alps and in sweden are too similar to be a coincidence. I think they may have found those in spain too, but I'm not sure.

  2. "Hell, my High School Football team was called the Vikings and our mascot had a blond wig and a horned helmet." The real vikings didn't have horned helmets though :)

  3. If you want to find historical sites "Fornsök" is a good service.

    Only in Swedish as far as I know.

  4. Interesting.. You do know that the true vikings had the horns on the inside, right? :)

    I am working on a web page about Sweden, including some information about history and museums etc. Visit and take a look!