Runestones

Lovö Church

The oldest part of Lovö Church has been dated back to the later part of the 12th century. According Berit Wallenberg it was built as early as the 11th century. It is also believed that an even older wooden church existed on this site. Church sermons are held in the church, normally once a month, and for certain Christian holidays. The church is unusually small and narrow. It was extended to the east, first in the 13th a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Drottningholm, Sweden

Vallentuna Church

The original Vallentuna church was built around 1190. The granite church consisted of a nave, choir and tower. The sacristy was added in the 13th century. The church was enlarged in the 15th century and brick vaults were constructed in 1763. The chapel of Klingspor family was built in the 17th century. Vallentuna church was badly damaged by fire in 1856. The church was restored and the exterior was strongly reshaped. The ...
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Vallentuna, 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

Jelling Runestones

The Jelling stones are massive carved runestones from the 10th century, found at the town of Jelling in Denmark. The older of the two Jelling stones was raised by King Gorm the Old in memory of his wife Thyra. The larger of the two stones was raised by King Gorm's son, Harald Bluetooth in memory of his parents, celebrating his conquest of Denmark and Norway, and his conversion of the Danes to Christianity. The runic inscr ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Jelling, Denmark

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

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

Kulisteinen

Kulisteinen is perhaps the most famous runic stone in Norway. For over 900 years the Kuli stone had been at Kuløy, but then 1913 it was moved to Vitenskapsmuseet i Trondheim. A copy of Kulisteinen was erected in 1969, where the original stone is believed to have stood. Erecting stones as monuments is an ancient pre-Christian custom. Today, we can read on the stone: «Tore and Halvard erected this stone for Ulv ...
Founded: | Location: Smøla, Norway

Kullerstad Church

Kullerstad church is a whitewashed Romanesque stone church dating from the 13th century. It is known of two Gunnar"s bridge runestones: according runes there was a man named Håkon who dedicated a bridge to the memory of his son Gunnar. The first runestone was found in the exterior wall of the church of Kullerstad in 1969 and is raised in the cemetery. The second stone was discovered in a church only 500 metres ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Norrköping, 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

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 Runes ...
Founded: 500 AD | Location: Kristinehamn, 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

Björketorp Runestone

The Björketorp Runestone is part of a grave field which includes menhirs, both solitary and formingstone circles. It is one of the world"s tallest runestones measuring 4.2 metres in height, and it forms an imposing sight together with two high uninscribed menhirs. The runes were made in the 6th or the 7th century and in Proto-Norse. It is found on two sides.
Founded: 500-700 AD | Location: Ronneby, 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 origi ...
Founded: 1030-1050 | Location: Frösön, Sweden

Karlevi Runestone

The Karlevi Runestone, designated as Öl 1 by Rundata, is commonly dated to the late 10th century. It is one of the most notable and prominent runestones and constitutes the oldest record of a stanza of skaldic verse. The runic inscription on the Karlevi Runestone is partly in prose, partly in verse. It is the only example of a complete scaldic stanza preserved on a runestone and is composed in the "lordly meter" the dr ...
Founded: ca. 950-1000 AD | Location: Mörbylånga, Öland, Sweden

Vaksala Runestone

The Vaksala Runestone is one of the approximately forty runestones made by the runemaster Öpir, who signed this inscription and was active in the late 11th and early 12th century in Uppland. This runestone style is characterized by slim and stylized animals that are interwoven into tight patterns. The animal heads are typically seen in profile with slender almond-shaped eyes and upwardly curled appendages on the nose ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Kallerup Runestone

The Kallerup Stone was discovered in 1827 by a stonemason in a field with several stone circles near a church in Hedehusene. It was then restored in 1851 by raising it near its original position. This granite runestone, which is 1.6 meters in height, is among the oldest in Denmark and is believed to date from about 700 to 800 AD. The elder futhark inscription is somewhat unusual in that it uses text bands, the inscribed l ...
Founded: 700-800 AD | Location: Hedehusene, Denmark

Högom Grave Field

Högom is a grave field dating from the Iron Age (c. 500 AD). The area 315x190m and consists of 10 mounds. Four of them have diameter of 40m and they are 4-5m high. On the southern side is also an Viking Age runestone, so-called Högomstenen. The cross in stone refers to early Christian influence in the area.
Founded: 500 AD | Location: Högom, Sweden

Vildtbane Runestone

Vildtbane runestone is an important landmark and historical monument. It is located by a dammed stream that has formed a man-made boundary since the eighth century A.D. The upright monolith marks the boundary of the King’s exclusive rights to hunt. The stone dates from 1775, when the King’s hunting grounds were still extensive.
Founded: c. 730 AD | Location: Jyllinge, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.