Bronze Age

History of Sweden between 1700 BC - 501 BC

Sweden's southern third was part of the stock-keeping and agricultural Nordic Bronze Age Culture's area, most of it being peripheral to the culture's Danish centre. The period began in c. 1700 BC with the start of bronze importation; first from Ireland and then increasingly from central Europe. Copper mining was never tried locally during this period, and Scandinavia has no tin deposits, so all metal had to be imported though it was largely cast into local designs on arrival. Iron production began locally toward the period's end, apparently as a kind of trade secret among bronze casters: iron was almost exclusively used for tools to make bronze objects.

The Nordic Bronze Age was entirely pre-urban, with people living in hamlets and on farmsteads with single-story wooden long-houses. Geological and topographical conditions were similar to those of today, but the climate was milder.

Rich individual burials attest to increased social stratification in the Early Bronze Age. A correlation between the amount of bronze in burials and the health status of the deceased's bones shows that status was inherited. Battle-worn weapons show that the period was warlike. The elite most likely built its position on control of trade. The period's abundant rock carvings largely portray long rowing ships: these images appear to allude both to trade voyages and to mythological concepts. Areas with rich bronze finds and areas with rich rock art occur separately, suggesting that the latter may represent an affordable alternative to the former.

Bronze Age religion as depicted in rock art centres upon the sun, fertility and public ritual. Wetland sacrifices played an important role. The later part of the period after about 1100 BC shows many changes: cremation replaced inhumation in burials, burial investment declined sharply and jewellery replaced weaponry as the main type of sacrificial goods.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1700 BC and 501 BC in Sweden

Backa Rock Carvings

Backa rock carvings date back to the Bronze Age (1000-500 BC). There are sixteen separate carvings depicting humans and ships. The most famous carving depicts a 1,5m long man with a spear.
Founded: 1000 - 500 BC | Location: Lysekil, Sweden

Anundshög

Anundshög is the largest tumulus in Sweden. It has a diameter of 60 metres and is about 9 metres high. Assessments of the era of the mound vary between the Bronze Age and the late Iron Age. A fireplace under it has been dated by radiocarbon dating to sometime between AD 210 and 540. Some historians have associated the mound with the legendary King Anund, while others regard this as speculative. It is purported also ...
Founded: 1500 BC - 1000 AD | Location: Västerås, Sweden

King's Grave

The King's Grave (Kungagraven i Kivik, Kiviksgraven) is what remains of an unusually grand Nordic Bronze Age double burial c. 1000 BC. In spite of the facts that the site has been used as a quarry, with its stones carried off for other uses, and that it was restored carelessly once it was known to be an ancient burial, these two burials are unique. In both construction and in size — it is a circular site measuring 75 m ...
Founded: c. 1000 BC | Location: Kivik, Sweden

Jättakullen

Jättakullen is the largest cist (stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead) in Sweden. The 14x4 meter grave is dated to the Bronze Age, around 1500 BC. There are some carvings inside the cist.
Founded: 1500 BC | Location: Vårgårda, Sweden

Rickeby Rock Carvings

Rickeby is known of its Bronze Age rock carvings. The area contains about 50 carvings displaying for example humans and animals.
Founded: 1700-500 BC | Location: Enköping, Sweden

Lugnarohögen

Lugnarohögen is a burial mound dating from the late Bronze Ages. The excavation made in 1926-1927 revealed a 8 meter long stone ship in the cairn. Archaeologists also found bones and three small bronze items made in 700-500 BC.
Founded: 700-500 BC | Location: Laholm, Sweden

Stenehed Grave Field

Stenehed is an Iron Age grave field containing about 45 graves, a stone circle, a stone ship, and a row of menhirs. Originally, there were eleven or twelve menhirs at the site; today, there are nine. The tallest one is 3,3m high. They are placed in a row, according to their heights. In 1980, astronomer Curt Roslund suggested that they form an astronomical calendar, similar to Stonehenge in England.
Founded: 600-400 BC | Location: Hällevadsholm, Sweden

Tjelvar's Grave

Tjelvar’s Grave is one of the best preserved stone ship settings in Gotland. According the legend Tjelvar, the first man lived in Gotland, is buried there. Archaeologists have dated the grave to made in the late Bronze Ages, 1100-500 BC. Tjelvar’s grave is 18 metres long and 5 metres wide. The height of the gunwale stones diminishes towards the centre of the ship, which has also been filled with stones ...
Founded: 1100-500 BC | Location: Slite, Sweden

Getterön Burial Ground

There are five big tumuli (burial mounds) in Getterön. The graves date probably from the Bronze Age (1500 - 500 BC).
Founded: 1500 - 500 BC | Location: Varberg, Sweden

Gnisvärd Ship Settings

Therea are three ancient ship-formed graves in Gnisvärd. All of them are set in line, as if out sailing together. The largest one is 45 metres long and 7 metres wide. That makes it the biggest ship setting on Gotland. Graves were made in the Bronze Ages, 1700-500 BC.
Founded: 1700-500 BC | Location: Gnisvärd, Sweden

Hagbard's Gallow

Hagbard's Gallow consists of two pair of menhirs, large upright standing stones. The monument was probably constructed during the bronze age. The stone has engravings, some discovered in the 18th Century and some in modern times. The name is related to the legend of Hagbard and Signy, as well as several other nearby remains.
Founded: 1700-500 BC | Location: Falkenberg, Sweden

Gannarve Ship Grave

The Gannarve grave is outlined by large standing stones, forming the shape of a ship. It has been built at the end of the Bronze Age, about 1100 – 500 B.C. The grave is 29 metres long and 5 metres wide. It is only one of about 350 boat-shaped graves on the island. In most cases, only one burial has been uncovered in each grave. When these people were buried, it was a custom to cremate the dead on a pyre. After crema ...
Founded: 1100-500 BC | Location: Gotland, Sweden

Möckleryd Rock Carvings

There are 140 rock carvings in Möckleryd and it is the largest rock art site in Blekinge dating probably from the Bronze Age. There are mainly boats, horses, people and elks described in carvings.
Founded: 1700-550 BC | Location: Torhamn, Sweden

Gålrum Burial Ground

Gålrum is an ancient burial ground including 122 ancient monuments. There are 5 large stone cairns, 110 round stone settings and 8 ship settings. The site was in use for 1500 years and reflects the differing burial styles over that long period of time with the earliest dating back to the Bronze Age around 1500 BC. The cairns vary in size from 10 metres to 25 metres in diameter and mostly have perimeter stones aroun ...
Founded: 1500 BC - 100 AD | Location: Gålrum, Sweden

Gettlinge Stone Ship Burial Ground

Gettlinge is a village in the southwest portion of the island of Öland It is known for its impressive Viking stone ship burial ground. Gettlinge is situated on the western fringe of the Stora Alvaret, a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO. The principal evidence of life in the Gettlinge area from 1000 BC to 1000 AD is derived from the gravefields themselves. The Gettlinge burial ground is situated near the coas ...
Founded: 1000 BC-1000 AD | Location: Morbylånga, Sweden

Uggårda Cairns

Uggårda is the largest Bronze Age burial ground in Gotland, founded around 1500-1000 BC. The biggest cairn is 7,5 meters high and 40 meters wide. There are also several smaller cairns on the site.
Founded: 1500-1000 BC | Location: Hemse, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.