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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Address

Bredarörsvägen, Kivik, Sweden
See all sites in Kivik

Details

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

Rating

4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jan Hoskens (5 months ago)
Impressive bronze age grave. 75m wide stone grave with pictured stone tablets inside. Only needs a half hour to visit, but worth the trip if you are into ancient history.
Natacha Pedersen (6 months ago)
Really cool bronze age grave where you can enter and see the 'king's grave'. It costs 30sk which is a good price for what you see of you like history, archaeology and ancient t civilizations.
Giorgio Berardi (7 months ago)
The King's grave in Kivik is in the same league as the mound graves that can be admired north of Dublin in Ireland. It is one of those man-made structures that leave you wondering about the meaning for which they were made, who built them, and why - of all place - precisely where they were built. The artistic elements are very simple (the ancient engraved stones inside the structure), but it is the monument as a whole that conveys an aura of mysticism which leaves the visitor bluffed at the very least.
Mille Barczyk (7 months ago)
Costs money! Even if it's cheap there is almost nothing to see here, really. You will be better of just taking a coffee/fika here, trust me. EDIT: What you get when you park is a massive grave (cool!), inside it are six (6) stones with hieroglyphs/drawings on (seams cool!). Two of them, you can't read/see anything on (not cool). Yet one is just put there in place of one that got stolen (bummer). Three remaining. Nothing special on them (boring). The written texts describing the stones and the tomb feels inadequate (sorry).
Fabian Leppin (10 months ago)
A very nice place but when we were there it was closed. The information around the monument are in english, german, swedish and tell a lot about the history.
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