Standing Stones and Viking Runes in Sweden

In March I went to Sweden for a weeks break. Part of my stay involved visiting some enigmatic standing stones while walking the Lyckåleden (lyckeby trail) on a beautiful sunny winters day.

Three standing stones on the bank of the Lyckebyån

Three standing stones on the bank of the Lyckebyån

The area was incredibly atmospheric - I assume the three stones by the Lyckebyån (stream) had to have an association with a water deity, and stopped to draw them.

Elsewhere clusters of forest (and long deserted house ruins) gave way to individual stones, standing silent and powerful in the landscape.

Paul-West-Lyckeby8.jpg

Two days later we drove to Hästhallen ("Horse Hall"), to see the a rock carving area, hidden in the pine forest. Hästhallen consists of over 140 carvings divided into seven groups. The petroglyphs consist of people, ships, horses and riders, deer, soles and sun wheels, dating around 1000BC (Bronze Age).

Once again, the surrounding area only added to a sense of awe that you could feel about the place.

The sheer number of figures carved into the rock shows that the place must have been an important gathering spot for worship in the first millennia.

Boats (voyaging to the underworld) the 'soles' of a gods feet (top right)

Boats (voyaging to the underworld) the 'soles' of a gods feet (top right)

The horses have given their name to the rock. Their extended bodies and stretched necks are typical and believed to have been used in religious ceremonies

The horses have given their name to the rock. Their extended bodies and stretched necks are typical and believed to have been used in religious ceremonies

This looks like a boat being supported by some supernatural deity - carrying the travellers safely to new lands

This looks like a boat being supported by some supernatural deity - carrying the travellers safely to new lands

The final stop of the day was to the stone at the island of Sturkö (on the archipelago of Blekinge).

"Gude's skipper raised stone"

"Gude's skipper raised stone"

The runic stone dates back to the Viking Age, at the end of the 11th Century, when the County of Blekinge belonged to Denmark. The inscription translates "Gude's skipper raised stone". Gude was a server to the king. The text is shorter than the typical rune inscriptions.