Prehistoric and archaeological sites in 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

Ismantorp Fortress

Ismantrop is an ancient fortress, which was used probably between years 300-500 AD. The ringfort consists of a limestone wall approximately 300 meters long and has nine gates. Inside the ringfort were 95 houses arranged in 12 blocks around a central open area with a circular building. Ismantorp is the largest and probably the oldest of the ringforts on Öland. The first written description of Ismantorp dates back to the ...
Founded: 300-500 AD | Location: Borgholm, 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

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

Frösö Runestone

Frösöstenen is the northern-most raised runestone in the world and Jämtland's only runestone. It originally stood at the tip of ferry terminal on the sound between the island of Frösön and Östersund. The stone dates to between 1030 and 1050. It has now been relocated to the lawn in front of the local county seat due to the construction of a new bridge, between 1969 and 1971, on the original site. Frösö runestone ...
Founded: 1030-1050 | Location: Frösön, 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

Rök Runestone

The Rök Runestone is one of the most famous runestones, featuring the longest known runic inscription in stone. It is considered the first piece of written Swedish literature and thus it marks the beginning of the history of Swedish literature. The stone was discovered built into the wall of the church in the 19th century and removed from the church wall a few decades later. The church was built in the 12th century, ...
Founded: 800 AD | Location: Ödeshög, 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

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

Runestones U-970 & U-969 at Burial Ground

These two stones are only a few meters apart on the side of a small burial mound at the side of an burial ground. Much of the burial ground is now used as pature for a 4-H Club. U-970 Translation - 'Vide raised the stone after..(missing).. Öpir....' Additional Info - Öpir is the runemaster who carved the stone and is one of the most prolific runemasters in the area. Both this stone and U #969, just a ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Uppsala, 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

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

Helgö

The island of Helgö is probably best known for a major archaeological area. The old trading town on Helgö began to emerge around the year 200 AD, 500 years before the well-known Birka. The first archaeological excavaton in 1954 found not only remains of the early settlement, but also a workshop area that became of international interest. Among the finds were a small Buddha statuette from North India and a christening s ...
Founded: 200 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Järsberg Runestone

The Järsberg Runestone is a stone of reddish granite which is believed to have been part of a stone circle monument. The upper part of the runestone is damaged and this was already the case when the stone was found. In Värmland, there are only four runestones of which two are from the Viking Age (in Old Norse) and the two others are from the Age of Migrations (in the older Proto-Norse). The Järsberg Runestone is one o ...
Founded: 500 AD | Location: Kristinehamn, Sweden

Stones of Mora

Stones of Mora was the place where the Swedish kings were elected. The origin of the tradition is unknown, but it has been known since the 13th century and mentioned by Snorri Sturlason (died 1241). The first known document tells that Magnus Ladulås was elected at the Stones of Mora in 1275. Magnus IV was elected at the stones on July 8, 1319 and Kristian I in 1457. He was the last to be elected at the stones. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Halvardsborg

Halvardsborg was an ancient stronghold in Arboga. It was built probably between 400-550 AD. It consisted of 520m long and even 3m high stone wall. There are some remains of the wall today.
Founded: 400-550 AD | Location: Arboga, Sweden

Släbro Rock Carvings

Släbro is without question one of Sweden’s greatest and most remarkable rock carvings site. Situated near the River of Nyköping the carvings were discovered 1984 and can be dated back to the Bronze Age. They are unique because they are carved in a most unusual way. There are etchings on some ten different surfaces with a total of some 700 figures, mainly frame and circle figures. Many are unique in design, in particul ...
Founded: 1800-400 BC | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Onbacken

Onbacken was a complete Iron Age environment dating approximately from 100-500 AD. You can see the foundation for a “long house” (contained dwelling, barn and storage), nine tombs and part of another foundation. On Onbacken lived a large family of three generations (12-15 people). They lived by animal husbandry, farming, fishing and hunting.
Founded: 100-500 AD | Location: Bollnäs, Sweden

Slagsta Rock Carvings

The rock carvings in Slagsta are the largest in Stockholm County. Rock carvings from the Bronze Age consists of 17 ships, three animal figures, a sole, 2-3 indeterminate figures, around 170 cup marks and a human figure. The human figure is characteristically designed legs with strong calves. During the same is a shallow carved ship depicted. The total machined surface is 4.8 x 3.3 meters. Slagsta inscription discovered S ...
Founded: 1800-500 BC | Location: Botkyrka, Sweden

Aspa Runestones

There are four runestones located at Aspa, which is about six kilometers north of Runtuna, where a road has passed a creek since prehistoric times. One of the stones is the oldest surviving native Scandinavian source that mentions the kingdom of Sweden beside the runestones DR 344 and DR 216. Another stone Sö 137 is raised in memory of a Viking who had spent time in the west.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.