Welcome to the website for standing stones in Sweden

Here you will find a completely unique insight into the previously unknown:

Stones that show winter and summer solstices, spring and autumn equinoxes as well as changing of seasons and timing of blot- seasonal rituals of sacrifice.

– The standing stones of Lundskullen are a calendar!

– It is the form of the stones, a form of the stones following the sun´s path, that shows it is a calendar.

Below in the photo you can see 11 of the 16 sun lines presentented so far in the central part of the burial site:

Background

Each calendar day is displayed with the help of the sun and in most cases two standing stones. There are two main types:

  1. On the correct calendar day the higher the stone’s shadow moves across the lower stone just under the top of the lower stone in such way that just a narrow region above the shadow at the top of the stone remains sunlit. The video clip below show one example of how it can look.
  2. The stones point towards the horizon in the direction of sunrise alternatively sunset the actual calendar day.

I call them shadow lines and horizon lines, and the two together I call sun lines.

With two real examples I show here how it looks on Lundskullen on the day of the vernal blot and also on the summer solstice. Exactly as it looked at the time the monuments were built maybe 1400 years ago. The photos show the involved standing stones and the video clips showing how the shadows on the first possible day for the vernal blot and the summer solstice moves over the respective lower stones.

There are only a few such clips available. In the case of most of the sun lines I have documented the sun is, to a greater or lesser extent, obscured by trees, leaving the shadow of the high stone too feint to be seen.

The sun lines are found at burial sites that also have graves in the form of mounds and stone settings. The mounds are typical for Late Iron Age, especially Vendel period but also Viking Age while the stone settings have a wider time span.

Southernmost Sweden is slightly different since the sun lines occurs partly in burial sites with mounds and stone settings but also in burial sites with stone ships where mounds and stone settings are missing. These stone ships in southernmost Sweden is like the mounds from Late Iron Age, with emphasis on Vendel period and Viking age.

A few burial sites with sun lines has no graves besides the standing stones.

My assessment is that the sun lines are from the Vendel period but early Viking Age is also possible.

In order to show all of the formations, even though the sun may be obscured by trees, a series of animations have been produced. Through these we get a detailed picture of how these two stones, in conjunction with the sun, indicate the different days of the calendar. A guide to how the animations were produced may be seen here.

What do we know about standing stones and why am I interested in them?

Standing stones with no runes, images or other carved patterns are found in their thousands in ancient burial sites in Sweden but these have never been seen as of any great interest among researchers. Despite this, it is apparent that people are drawn to these stones, so often are they depicted in both books and films. The reason for this is hardly found in the stones themselves, but rather in what they convey. A sense of a mystical prehistory shrouded in the mists of time.

What do archaeology students learn?

In Göran Burenhult’s two volume “Arkeologi I Norden” (Nordic Archaeology), as used in the Swedish university foundation course in archaeology, only a third of a page can be found on standing stones. Here can we learn that these “are found as grave markings for the dead” often cremations, and that they “span a very long period, from the bronze age until the end of the iron age”. Furthermore that those in Mälardalen are mostly from the early Iron Age while in southernmost Sweden and in Denmark they are mostly late Iron Age. Burenhult also names some important burial sites and briefly describes the distribution of standing stones in Sweden.

And what does Snorre have to say?

In chapter 8 of Ynglingasagan (The Youth’s Saga) that begins Snorre Sturlasson’s “Heimskringla or the Lives of the Norse Kings” it is mentioned that memorial stones were erected to all those of true manhood. (The extract below is from The Online Medieval & Classical Library):

Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland. Thus he established by law that all dead men should be burned, and their belongings laid with them upon the pile, and the ashes be cast into the sea or buried in the earth. Thus, said he, every one will come to Valhalla with the riches he had with him upon the pile; and he would also enjoy whatever he himself had buried in the earth. For men of consequence a mound should be raised to their memory, and for all other warriors who had been distinguished for manhood a standing stone; which custom remained long after Odin’s time.

On winter day there should be blood-sacrifice for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third sacrifice should be on summer day, for victory in battle. Over all Swithiod the people paid Odin a scatt or tax — so much on each head; but he had to defend the country from enemy or disturbance, and pay the expense of the sacrifice feasts for a good year.

Snorre uses the words “bauta stone” when referring to standing stones. In modern times the word has once again become popular thanks to the Asterix and Obelix books. In Sweden, however, it seems more accurate to use the Swedish term “rest sten” translated to the English “standing stone” when taking into account the language used on rune stones from 900 – 1000 AD. Therefore I will use the term “standing stone” on this website.

Examples from excavations in southern-most Sweden

Summaries of excavations of standing stones in North Skåne can be found in Anne Carlie’s doctorate “På Arkeologins Bakgård” (In Archaeology’s Backyard) from 1994. There can be found information on around 1100 standing stones in East and West Göinge, although only 630 now remain. This type of grave has in modern times been subjected to significant damage, possibly used as building materials or in some cases being removed when in the way of crop farming. As is the case with Snorre and Burenhult these sites consist of cremations although in a couple of cases no remains were found. Dating of the contents has ranged all the way from early to late Iron Age. Anne Carlie states that similar results have been found in excavations made in the rest of Skåne, Halland, Småland and Blekinge.

My involvement in the whole thing?

On Lundskullen, a few kilometres north of Vårgårda, is an ancient burial site containing, among other things, forty standing stones. Upon first visiting the burial site in 2004 I had the feeling that these stones were not randomly placed. They seemed to be placed in formations or on lines, in a way that ought not to be the result of chance. As well as this, the shape of the stones were special and appeared to be formed for some specific purpose. At no other burial site had I seen anything similar. Lundskullen gave the appearance of being utterly unique.

Since my first visit I have returned to the site many times. It became a hobby project that has subsequently taken up a large part of my free time. Now, ten years later, I understand at least partly what it’s all about. Beginning in spring 2014, I intend to show my results on this website, releasing material as and when it is ready. This information will be collected in the right hand menu, BURIAL SITES & SUN LINES.