Pre-Roman Iron Age

History of Sweden between 500 BC - 1 BC

The archaeological record for the 5th-3rd centuries BC is rich in rural settlements and remains of agriculture but very poor in artefacts. This is mainly due to extremely austere burial customs where few people received formal burial and those who did got little in the way of grave goods. There is little indication of any social stratification. Bronze importation ceased almost entirely and local iron production started in earnest.

A typical Clearance cairn from Eglinton Country Park in Scotland, The climate took a turn for the worse, forcing farmers to keep cattle indoors over the winters, leading to an annual build-up of manure that could now for the first time be used systematically for soil improvement. Fields were however still largely impermanent, leading to the gradual coalescence of vast systems of sunken fields or clearance cairns where only small parts were tilled at any one time. From the 2nd century BC onward, urn cremation cemeteries and weapon burials with various above-ground stone markers appear, beginning a monumental cemetery record that persists unbroken until the end of the Iron Age. Cemeteries of these roughly 13 centuries are by far the most common type of visible ancient monument in Scandinavia. The reappearance of weapon burial after millennium's hiatus suggests a process of increased social stratification similar to the one at the beginning of the Bronze Age.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 500 BC and 1 BC in Sweden

Smålandsstenar

Smålandstenar (Smoland Stones) is a site of five or six stone circle dating from the early Iron Ages. The area has originally been a burial site. The largest circle is 20m wide and consists of 20 stones.
Founded: 500 - 300 BC | Location: Smålandsstenar, Sweden

Broåsen Burial Ground

Broåsen is one of the largest burial grounds in Halland. It consists of 60 mounds, stone settings and other ancient monuments. Slummesten (also called Kung Götriks sten or King Götrik's Stone) is an impressive standing stone of almost six metres height which is part of Broåsen's burial ground.
Founded: 400 BC - AD 500 | Location: Rolfstorp, Sweden

Grönehög Mound

Grönehög is the biggest ancient mound in Bohuslän region. It has a diameter of 45-50m and it is 6m high. Archaeologists have found buried items from the mound dating from the 6th century AD.
Founded: 500 BC | Location: Strömstad, Sweden

Håvesten

Håvesten is an Iron Age burial ground. It consists of ten burial mounds, six stone circles and and nine big standing stones. According the legend old men, who were not able to work of fight anymore, rushed to death from Ättekullshögen, one of the highest mounds.
Founded: 500 BC - 400 AD | Location: Färgelanda, Sweden

Ivars Kulle

Ivars Kulle (Ivar"s Hill) is a 4m high and 40m wide family grave built probably in the Bronze Age. In 1972 excavation revealed five graves from the mound.
Founded: 1800 - 500 BC | Location: Halmstad, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.