The Royal mounds (Kungshögarna) is the name for the three large barrows which are located in Gamla (Old) Uppsala. According to ancient mythology and folklore, it would be the three gods Thor, Odin and Freyr lying in Kungshögarna. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were speculated to hold the remains of three kings of the legendary House of Ynglings and where thus known by the names Aun's Mound, Adil's Mound and Egil's Mound. Today their geographical locations are instead used and they are called the Eastern mound, Middle Mound and Western Mound.
Mounds are dated to the 5th and 6th centuries. As Sweden's oldest national symbols they are even depicted on the covers of books about the Swedish national identity. In the 6th century, Gamla Uppsala was the location of royal burials. The location was chosen carefully and in order to make them majestic. The tumuli were constructed on top of the ridge.
By burning the dead king and his armour, he was moved to Valhalla by the consuming force of the fire. The fire could reach temperatures of 1500 °C. The remains were covered with cobblestones and then a layer of gravel and sand and finally a thin layer of turf.
Archaeologists have excavated lot of significant remains from mounds. There have been many fragments of decorated bronze panels with a dancing warrior carrying a spear In the eastern mound. These panels have probably adorned a helmet of the Vendel Age type, common in Uppland. There were also finds of gold which probably had adorned a scramasax, but according to another interpretation, they were part of a belt. The dead was also given several glass beakers, a tafl game, a comb and a hone.
In the western mound were found the remains of a man and animals, probably for food during the journey. The remains of a warrior equipment were found. Luxurious weapons and other objects, both domestic and imported, show that the buried man was very powerful. These remains include a Frankish sword adorned with gold and garnets and a board game with Roman pawns of ivory. He was dressed in a costly suit made of Frankish cloth with golden threads, and he wore a belt with a sumptuous buckle. There were four cameos from the Middle East which were probably part of a casket. The finds show the distant contacts of the people of Uppland in the 6th century.
Gamla Uppsala Museum, and its exhibition hall adjacent to the Kings' Mounds, was inaugurated in the summer of 2000. On display are finds from the royal mounds, tales of the ancient dynasties and pagan gods, and models of the landscape as it looked through history. There are also models, slideshows, audio recordings, and children's corner.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.