King's Grave

Kivik, Sweden

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 metres in diameter — this tomb differs from most European burials from the Bronze Age. Most importantly, the cists are adorned with petroglyphs. The images carved into the stones depict people, animals (including birds and fish), ships, lurs being played, symbols, and a chariot drawn by two horses and having four-spoked wheels.

The site was used as a quarry for construction materials until 1748, when two farmers discovered a 3.25 metre tomb, with a north-south orientation, constructed with ten slabs of stone. They dug it out, hoping to find a treasure in the grave. Soon rumour had it that the two men had found a great treasure in the tomb and the authorities had the men arrested. However, the two men denied having found anything, and as no evidence could be provided against them, they were released. Several years passed before it was discovered that the slabs of stone in the tomb were adorned with petroglyphs, and a long series of speculations had begun. Still, the quarrying continued and some of the stones disappeared.

The site was excavated by archaeologist Gustaf Hallström starting in 1931. Between 1931–1933, a thorough excavation was undertaken and the remains of a Stone Age settlement was found under the massive cairn, including a great deal of flintstone shards. Only teeth, fragments of bronze, and some pieces of bone were found, dating from the Bronze Age.

The mound contained two cists, however. On the left side of the cist's southern end, there were raised slabs of stone from a 1.2 metres long and 0.65 metres wide cist. It has been named the King's Grave due to its size and, long before it was known to contain two burials. Since the site has been subject to numerous lootings, there are no reliable finds, but it is believed that the two graves were built at the same time.

After the excavation, the tomb was restored, but no one knows whether it looks similar to its original state. A comparison with other contemporaneous graves suggests that the site might have been three times higher than the 3.5 metres, as restored. The restoration was based on etchings from the 18th century and conjecture. A new chamber was constructed out of concrete and a tunnel extended into the cists. Today, it is possible for visitors to the site to enter the tomb and to see the engraved stones.



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Bredarörsvägen, Kivik, Sweden
See all sites in Kivik


Founded: c. 1000 BC
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in Sweden
Historical period: Bronze Age (Sweden)


3.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Federico N (12 months ago)
45 sek to see a couple of stones that are not even originally from there. The entire place has been reconstructed. The whole museum entrance is the picture below: One dark room. In addition, there is not much to learn about those rocks. The explanation at the entrance explain that there are hypothesis about what are those rocks about and it is still not clear if those hypothesis have been Confirmed or not.
Carola Stober (12 months ago)
The grave from the bronze age has been restored, concrete walls has been built around it and then the stones were put over it again. The original grave hill was larger. The symbols / petroglyphs on the big stones from the grave are very interesting and mystical. You can read about that in a small booklet (20kr) you can buy or on the big sign before the "entrance house". I think the ticket you need to buy to watch the grave is too expensive. It was a bit dissappointing, we thought, that we see more for this price of 45 kr. It is just a small walk around the grave and that's it. Inside the entrance house is a small restaurant and shop.
Hemaseh Moosavi (2 years ago)
A great place to visit! Absolutely worth the visit. Do not miss it if you are around. Such a pity though that it is not advertised enough and appreciated as it deserves. The ticket was not expensive at all and the feeling one cam get after entering the main site is very mysterious and exciting. Especially if one goes when not crowded. There is a cafe in the entrance you can get cake and souvenirs.
David Gustafsson (3 years ago)
It was not open, and it is also a restoration project. It is not the original thing.
Alessandro Sorrentino (4 years ago)
Very impressive tomb with old paintings on the stones. It is easy to reach, there is a quite big parking nearby and the place is really impressive. It costs 30kr to go in, and you visit in around ten minutes but the atmosphere is really cool. They do not keep it really well, the informations on the walls are interesting but more suited to a child to an adult, while the place could be advertised much more and it is really an unique experience in Sweden.
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