The current stone church in Hemse dates mainly from the 13th century. However, about a century earlier there was a stave church built at the same location. The surprisingly well-preserved stave church was found by chance under the floor of the stone church during a restoration in 1896, where the wooden planks of the church had served as an earlier floor. The wooden church, known as Hemse stave church, is the most well-preserved early stave church found in Sweden. There have been plans to erect a replica of the church somewhere near its original location.
The stave church was probably replaced by the presently visible Romanesque stone church as it became too small for the congregation. The nave and choir were built first, and the tower was added later.
During the aforementioned restoration the church was rather insensitively restored inside. A later restoration was carried out in 1962–63.
The church is a relatively homogeneous Romanesque edifice. Inside, it is decorated by medieval frescos. The oldest of these are in the tower, and depict centaurs assaulting thetree of life. Under it are two inscriptions in Latin. In the choir and the apse are depictions of the Last Judgment dating from the 14th century and in the nave, frescos from the middle of the 15th century depicting the Passion of Christ and two saints: Saint George and the Dragon and Saint Martin. There is also a rune inscription on the western wall of the choir, a repetition of the futhark or runic 'alphabet'.
Among the furnishings, the triumphal cross from the end of the 12th century is noteworthy. The baptismal font has a Romanesque foot but a later (14th century) basin. The church bell is from the first half of the 15th century.References:
Trullhalsar is a very well-preserved and restored burial field dating back to the Roman Iron Ages (0-400 AD) and Vendel period (550-800 AD). There are over 340 different kind of graves like round stones (called judgement rings), ship settings, tumuli and a viking-age picture stone (700 AD).
There are 291 graves of this type within the Trullhalsar burial ground, which occurs there in different sizes from two to eight metres in diameter and heights between 20 and 40 centimetres. Some of them still have a rounded stone in the centre as a so-called grave ball, a special feature of Scandinavian graves from the late Iron and Viking Age.
In addition, there is a ship setting, 26 stone circles and 31 menhirs within the burial ground, which measures about 200 x 150 metres. The stone circles, also called judge's rings, have diameters between four and 15 metres. They consist partly of lying boulders and partly of vertically placed stones. About half of them have a central stone in the centre of the circle.
From 1915 to 1916, many of the graves were archaeologically examined and both graves of men and women were found. The women's graves in particular suggest that the deceased were very wealthy during their lifetime. Jewellery and weapons or food were found, and in some graves even bones of lynxes and bears. Since these animals have never been found in the wild on Gotland, it is assumed that the deceased were given the skins of these animals in their graves.