Stone- and Shipsettings:
In general - Ales stenar - Anundshög - Arnundstorp - Askeberga - Boge - Ekornavallen - Fröjel - Hasslöv - Hornåsen - Stora Malm - List of references
"Shipsettings" means a number of raised limestone or errattic blocks, which have been arranged in the form of a ship. To some of them belongs a so called rune-stone, which mast-like stands at the middle longitudinal axis. The ground plan is always sharp oval, which means that bow and stern are of the same kind. While at the central nave the hight of the stones is lowest, it then again rises towards the stem and the stern-post (before and behind).
The shipsettings in Sweden are actually of two different periods. First the ones, that are from Viking Age or the later part of Iron Age and then the ones from late Bronze Age only on the island of Gotland. Gotland is a part of Sweden today, but has for a very long time in prehistory been an area by itself. Only in Gotland are about 350 of such shipsettings being preserved (for example Gnisvärd, Gålrum, Rannarve near Klintehamn, Djupvik, Gannarve, Tjelvars grave), more than anywhere else in the North.
The longest shipsetting on the island Gotland lies at Gnisvärd / Tofta and is more than 45 m long, one setting at Stenstu / Levide is 31,5 m and the one at Gannarve / Fröjel 29 m long.
The ships lie either alone or in groups. So at the gravefield of Liffride / Lärbro you can find for example groups of five and at Gålrum / Alskog even seven shipsettings. The fact that the position of this shipsettings is always coastal and ashore shows the importance of the waterways.
Mårten Stenberger writes to this theme: "It is possible, that the custom, to erect graves in the form of ships, has had symbolical meaning, the same as many other things in the world of Bronce Age. As a background might have existed the idea of a vehicle, that should lead the dead one to a land on the other side of the border of life. But they may also be the expression for something other, more realistical. The ships may be monuments to remember proficient sailors and therefore at the same time an expression of the importance of voyage and trade for the population on the island."
Ales stenar near Kåseberga is considered one of the cultural monuments of the swedish early history. Erected by the Wikings, it has a length of 67 m and a width of 19 m, and with that it is the greatest shipsetting in Scandinavia. It consists of 58 granite blocks, which are partly over 2 m high and have been arranged in the form of a ship.
The front block marks exactly the point where the sun sets at Midsommar and the back block the point of sunrise at winter solstice. At both sides of the "mainship" were found remains of smaller "escort vessels." This stonesetting was propably erected either about 500 B.C. (Bronce Age) or between 500 and 1000 A.D.
Most of such shipsettings are graves. But this is not shure with ales stenar, since no grave discoveries were made. The question is if it might have been memorial place for someone (a great chieftain?), whose bones are not in there, or for example a place of worship.
Photos 1 & 2 by © Skånes Turistråd; Photo 3 by © Sveriges Rese- och Turistråd
At Anundshög near Västerås are a total of five shipsettings, the greatest of which is 54 m long. Before them is to be found a long stonerange, which is in a way a road marking. Near at hand of this setting stands a rune-stone. It was erected in the first half of the 11. Century and bears the epigraph: "Folkvid erected all these stones in honour of his son Heden, Anunds brother. Vred carved the runes."
Anundshög itself is about 14 meters high and has a diameter of 60 meters. By that it is the greatest grave-mound in Sweden. The hills in the surrounding were probably being erected over fire graves, in which the dead were buried together with the grave adds.
Close to Anundshög exists an other, smaller grave field with a hill, nine round stone settings and one shipsetting, which was layed out about between 500 and 1000 A. D. It is supposed, that women as well as men were being buried under these stone settings and hills.
all Photos by © Bernhard - I can not help publishing (with a few matches according to the layout) the original page here, which my email-friend and "promoter" put into the web specially for me. Please also visit his homepage, since he deserves it...; Photo 2 by © Me
Grave field and limekiln at Arnundstorp are positioned at the west edge of Billingen, abough the flat land, which spreads out in the region of Hornborga lake. The limekiln is from the younger iron age (about 400 - 1050 A. D.) As may be seen very clearly on the photo on the right bottom, the area on which the stone settings (among others also one shipsetting) are positioned is being used by one or more farms of the closer surrounding today.
Today only eight visible graves are left, but it is likely, that originally there had been more. Besides the grave field are rests of the limekiln, which stood here at the beginning of the 20th century. Mortar was needed in Sweden since the adoption of stone construction in the 12th century, and since the middle of the 19th century the demand of it grew up, when people began to use lime in the paper industry as well as for the enrichment of earth.
all Photos by by © Me
Askeberga near Skövde is streight after Ale Stenar in Skåne the second largest stonesetting of Sweden and was erected at the time of the migration of nations, so about 400 A.D. It is also being called "Ranes Stenar." Each of the 24 stone blocks, Askeberga consists of, is between 25 and 30 tons heavy. As such big stone blocks are not being found in the near vicinity, they must have been transported at a long distance. The shipsetting of Askeberga is 55 m long.
Not far from this place, in Flistad, lies king Ranes grave from the Iron Age.
all Photos by by © Me
"Tjelder´s Grave" in the district Södermanland at Katrineholm (before and after the restauration 1938)
all Photos by © Antikvarisk-topografiska arkivet
Ekornavallen is placed at the valley of the river Slafsan in a region, which is very rich at relics of the past. Here graves from all epochs can be found. The first humans were buried on Ekornavallen around 3000 B. C. After that the place was being used during at least 4000 years as a grave field. Today sheep graze there.
The graves or the first thousand years of the iron age are missing here, because they were destroyed by farming etc. Since Ekornavallen has not been examined archaeologically yet, no founds of for example bones were being made so far.
Ekornavallen conceiles graves from the whole prehistory of Sweden: Stone age, bronce age and iron age. The inhabitants of Hornborga have been using the area as pasture-ground. With the cultivation during the 90s of the 19th century many of the antiques have been destroyed.
all Photos by by © Me
Of the originally two ships of the shipsetting "Gannarve" on Gotland (Fröjel) is only one left today. This setting, which is 29 m long and 5 m wide has been erected during the younger Bronce Age. Besides the big stem stones at the examination in 1959 there were also found rests of the smaller stones of the middleship, so a restauration became possible.
Photo 1 by © Sveriges Rese- och Turistråd; Photo 2 by © Antikvarisk-topografiska arkivet
The grave at Lugnaro / Hasslöv consisted originally out of a mound of 3,75 m height over a mound of stones, which covered the 8 m long shipsetting. The setting is adjusted east-westwards, built of small stones, which are about 40 cm high and stand very close together, and one big stem stone at each end. Inside the setting the mortal remains of a female as well as a male person were found. Because of the fact, that the setting was being covered by the mound, it was not visible by those still alive, therefore it may only have been made as a vehicle to send the death ones to the beyond.
Photo by © Antikvarisk-topografiska arkivet
The following epigraph is to be found on the spot:
"Gravfältet vid Hornåsen, som är ett av Västmanlands största och märkligaste, består av 200 gravar, de flesta runda stensättningar. Dessutom finns det en kvadratisk och två skeppsformiga stensättningar, sju rösen, en hög, (...) och en rest sten. Några gravar undersöktes på 1920-talet, varvid påträffades fynd, som kan dateras till volkvandringstid (400 - 550 e. Kr.) Tidsmässigt spänner dock gravfältet över en betydlig längre period, troligen innefattande både bronsåldern (1500 - 500 f. Kr.) och större delen av järnåldern (500 f. Kr. - 1000 e. Kr.) Gravfältet ligger vid en knutpunkt på den viktiga vägen över Mälaren och visar att människor bott här under lång tid."
"The grave field near Hornåsen, which is one of Västmanslands´ biggests and greatests, consists of 200 graves, most of them are round stonesettings. Besides there are one quadratic and two shipsettings, seven stone stacks, one hill, (...) and one rune-stone. Some of the graves were examined about 1920, in the course of which were made finds, that may be dated as from the migration of nations. The span of time of the grave field goes over a much longer period, propably it contains the Bronce Age (1500 - 500 B.C.) as well as the major part of the Iron Age (500 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) The grave field is located at a junction over the Mälarsea and proves, that people lived here over a long period."
Photos 1 & 2 by © Bernhard;
"Glysa´s Grave" on Gotland (Stora Malm)
all Photos by © Antikvarisk-topografiska arkivet
©Angelika Friedrich, Jan. 2000