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 Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.