Ancient sites in 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

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

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

Trelleborgen Viking Fortress

Trelleborg is a collective name for six Viking Age circular forts, located in Denmark and the southern part of modern Sweden. Five of them have been dated to the reign of the Harold Bluetooth of Denmark (died 986). The city of Trelleborg has been named after one of these fortresses. Today Trelleborgen is part of a Viking Age fortress complex, which has been reconstructed. There is a Viking musem with souvenir shop ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Trelleborg, 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 batt ...
Founded: 400 AD | Location: Degerhamn, Öland, 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

Trojaborg, Visby

The island of Gotland has many stone labyrinths, but the most famous is Trojaborg in Visby. It may have its origins in a pagan cult, but in more recent times it has been used for games and festivities.
Founded: Medieval or earlier | Location: Innerstaden, 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

Gåseborg Hill Fort

Gåseborg was an magnificient ancient hill fort built in the Iron Age, about 1500 years ago. It was built of stone without any masonry. According the archaeological excavations the fort has been also a temporary residence. For example remains of golden artefacts have been found from the site.
Founded: 500 AD | Location: Viksjö, 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

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

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

Vätteryd

The Vätteryd grave field, also known as Vätterydshed, dates from the Iron Age. The grave field consists of 183 menhirs, 15 stone ships - the largest 25 m long and 8 m wide - and 2 circles. Many of the stone ships are so damaged that all that remains are parts smaller than half the original size. In the beginning of the 19th century, Vätteryd, with about 600 menhirs, was considered the largest grave field i ...
Founded: 550-900 AD | Location: Tjörnarp, 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

Greby Grave Field

The Greby grave field is an Iron Age grave field in western Sweden. With its over 180 graves, it is the largest site of this kind in Bohuslän. According to legends, Greby is the resting place of the Scottish warriors who once pillaged Tanum. However, in June 1873, Swedish archaeologist Oscar Montelius examined eleven of the graves and did not find any weapons, only glass pearls, bone combs and other everyday objects, som ...
Founded: 1 - 400 AD | Location: Tanum, Sweden

Himmelstalund Rock Carvings

Himmelstalund is a large park famous for having one of Sweden's biggest collection of petroglyphs with more than 1660 pictures. Some of the depicted boats having a similar shape as the Hjortspring boat. Oldest features have been dated to the transition between the Late ­Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age (1920­1740 BC).
Founded: 1900 BC | Location: Norrköping, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.