Ancient town of Gamla Uppsala

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The oldest settlement in Sweden is the town of Gamla Uppsala it is located a bit north of the current capital of Stockholm. The town is now located some distance from the sea – but during the heyday of Gamla Uppsala there was access to the water. The reason the coastline is now further to the east is caused by the post-glacial rebound. This effect basically means most of Scandinavia was covered by a heavy icecap during the last ice age – this icecap was very heavy and pushed the land down. The icecap melted and the landmass started to rise slowly again and the process is still continuing.

Large royal grave at Gamla Uppsala

The settlement was the biggest in ancient Sweden and it was one of the most important places for the worship of the Asa-Vane faith religion which is the traditional Nordic religion adapted to people living at the edge of Europe in a cold climate. The oldest royal family in Sweden lived in this area ruling a large area around the area – but far from all of current Sweden. Later the town was chosen for the location of the first arch bishop of Sweden.

Most of the settlement has been destroyed but there is a large collection of burial mounds around the old town. Originally it was thought the mounds were for the burial of the gods like Frey. And there is also a mound called Odin’s mound for the chief god of the all the world. it turns out the burial mounds were not for the gods but for important men died in the area – probably from the local kings living in the area. There are some legendary kings who was thought to be buried in the mounds – but it turns out the mounds is a hundred years too young for this. The biggest mounds are from around year 600 but there is a long range of graves dating from around year 300 to year 1100.

We walk around the graves to enjoy the large mounds on the sunny early evening. There is also a museum but we arrive just before 5 and the museum close at 5 so we never made it inside and have no idea about what is on display inside the museum. I guess it is some of the items which have been found inside the graves in the area when they have been excavated.

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