Ancient sites 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

Ekornavallen

Ekornavallen is one of the richest prehistoric sites in Sweden. The earliest burials were made in the Neolithic period, 3000 BC. The 20 meters wide and two meters high burial mound is dated to Bronze Age (1800-500 BC). There are also lot of different kind of settings (like standing stones and stone circles) from the Iron Ages built between 0-500 AD. The largest, and best known, of the Neolithic passage graves at Ekorna ...
Founded: 3000 BC - 500 AD | Location: Broddetorp, Sweden

Rock Carvings in Tanum

One of the largest rocks of Nordic Bronze Age petroglyphs in Scandinavia is located in Tanumshede locality, Tanum Municipality. In total there are thousands of images called the Tanum petroglyphs, on about 600 panels within the World Heritage Area. These are concentrated in distinct areas along a 25 km stretch, which was the coastline of a fjord during the Bronze Age, and covers an area of about 51 hectares. Tanumshede ro ...
Founded: 1800-500 BC | Location: Tanum, Sweden

Birka

During the Viking Age, Birka was an important trading center. The archaeological sites of Birka and Hovgården, on the neighbouring island of Adelsö, make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking Scandinavia and their influence on the subsequent history of Europe. Generally regarded as Sweden's oldest town, Birka (along with Hovgården) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site ...
Founded: ca. 750 AD | Location: Adelsö, 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

Luttra Passage Grave

The Neolithic passage grave (a tomb where the burial chamber is reached along a distinct, and usually low, passage) of Luttra is one of the best preserved of its kind in Västergötland. Still time has not been acting too gracious on this site, this ancient tomb is damaged and even partly destroyed. It only has one roofblock left, and the passage is just a metre long - it originally used to be longer. But it is, n ...
Founded: ca. 3400 BC | Location: Falköping, Sweden

Askeberga Stone Circle

Askeberga stone circle is 55m long and 18m wide. It was probably made in the late Iron Ages. The ship has no stones in both ends, which makes it unusual formed.
Founded: 500 - 1000 AD | Location: Tidan, Sweden

Ale's Stones

Ale's Stones (Ales stenar) is a megalithic monument which consists of a stone ship 67 meters long formed by 59 large boulders of sandstone, weighing up to 1.8 tonnes each. According to Scanian folklore, a legendary king called King Ale lies buried there. The carbon-14 dating system for organic remains has provided seven results at the site. One indicates that the material is around 5,500 years old whereas the remaining s ...
Founded: 500-1000 AD | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Sparlösa Runestone

The Sparlösa Runestone, listed as Vg 119 in the Rundata catalog, is the second most famous Swedish runestone after the Rök Runestone. It was discovered in 1669 in the southern wall of the church of Sparlösa. Before their historical value was understood, many runestones were used as construction material for roads, walls, and bridges. Following a fire at the church in 1684, the runestone was split in rebuild ...
Founded: c. 800 AD | Location: Sparlösa, Sweden

Sandby Borg

Sandby borg is a ringfort, one of at least 15 on the island of Öland. It sits about 2 kilometers southeast of Södra Sandby village in Sandby parish. From 2010 the fort has been subject of excavation that has revealed that it was the site of a 5th Century AD massacre. The fort included 53 buildings, consisting of small, one-family houses in the middle and stables and storehouses closer to the walls. Sandby Borg is onl ...
Founded: c. 480 AD | Location: Sandby, Sweden

Haga Dolmen

The Haga dolmen (Hagadösen) is a megalithic dolmen, dating from the Neolithic era. It is located on the island of Orust in Bohuslän, about one kilometre to the east of Tegneby Church. Not far from the dolmen is a second, smaller one, and about 250 metres west of it a large passage grave can be found. The grave consists of four raised stone slabs, with a fifth slab placed as a roof, with an additional thres ...
Founded: 3400 BC | Location: Orust, Sweden

Gråborg Castle

Gråborg is the largest ancient castle in Öland. It was built probably in the 6th century and enlarged through Middle Ages. According old tax reports dating back to the year 1450, Gråborg was owned by Vadstena abbey and functioned as a some kind of trade center. It was used for defence against Danish even in 1677. According to legend Gråborg was strongly associated with king Burislev Sverkersson who ...
Founded: 500 AD | Location: Färjestaden, Öland, Sweden

Uppsa Kulle

Uppsa Kulle is one of the largest Iron Age mounds in Sweden. The 55m wide and 9m high mound is probably a grave of local king or chief(s).
Founded: 600 AD | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

The Royal Mounds

The Royal mounds (Kungshögarna) is the name for the three large barrows which are located in Gamla (Old) Uppsala. According to ancient mythology and folklore, it would be the three gods Thor, Odin and Freyr lying in Kungshögarna. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were speculated to hold the remains of three kings of the legendary House of Ynglings and where thus known by the names Aun's Mound, Adil's Mound an ...
Founded: 400-500 AD | Location: Gamla Uppsala, Uppsala, 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

Runsa Hill Fort

Runsa was a prehistoric hill fortification, strategically situated on a 30 meter high rock promontory in Lake Mälaren. The ancient fort covers an area of 200 x 100 meters. The site was excavated first in 1902 with the participation of Crown Prince Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. It was later investigated by archaeologists in 1992. Below the ruins is a stone ship burial area with some 30 graves. The burial ground is made up o ...
Founded: 400-500 AD | Location: Upplands Väsby, Sweden

Håga Mound

The Håga Mound (Hågahögen) or King Björn's Mound is one of the most magnificent remains from the Nordic Bronze Age. Håga mound is approximately 7 metres high and 45 metres across and it was constructed ca 1000 B.C. by the shore of a narrow inlet of the sea (the land has been continually rising since the Ice Age). It was constructed of turfs that had been laid on top of a cairn which was built o ...
Founded: ca. 1000 BC | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Hovgården

Hovgården is an archaeological site on the Lake Mälaren island of Adelsö. During the Viking Age, the centre of the prospering Mälaren Valley was the settlement Birka, founded in the mid-8th century and abandoned in the late 10th century and located on the island Björkö just south of Adelsö. Hovgården is believed to have been the site from where kings and chieftains ruled the area. ...
Founded: ca. 100-1520 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval ...
Founded: 400 AD | Location: Degerhamn, Öland, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.