Just a little drive outside of Västeräs we reach one of the most famous ancient burial grounds in Sweden. There are a large collection of graves at this little place called Anundshög. The grave site is right at an intersection of a couple of roads – but there isn’t much modern development near the ancient graves. The lack of modern development might be part of the reason the area has survived until today.
In ancient times the area around Anundshög was an important meeting place where the locals held a ting. The ting is an ancient Nordic tradition where the people of an area come to a specific location to solve dispute and decide the law of the land. The most famous of these ancient ting’s is probably Al-tinget a couple of hours drive outside Reykjavik in Iceland where the Icelandic people founded the oldest actual parliament of a nation anywhere in the world. The word ting is also used in modern language like Folketinget which is the name of the Danish national parliament and can be translated to the ting of the people.
The grave site is very large and has certainly been the resting place for some very important people of ancient days – possible even some local kings of the area around modern day Västeräs. There is a collection of different types of graves.
The most pronounced of the graves is a large burial mound which is about 9 meters high and has a diameter of about 64-68 meters. There is a path to the top of the burial mound so you can see the area from the top of somebody’s grave.
Another important grave setting is the large ship setting which is a very traditional way of burial in the Nordic countries. A series of stones would be set to form the shape of a ship and the important man or woman would be buried in this ship. Indicating the importance of shipping in the old Nordic world which was the case up through the Viking era and even later.
At Anundshög there are actually no less than 5 stone ships in the area which is the largest concentration of any location in Sweden. According to old documents from the mid-17th century the stones had all been tumbled over – possibly because they were associated with traditional religious ceremonies of the Norse religion. The stones remained down until 1932 when four of the ships were restored so you can go and see them today.
The ships are pretty big the biggest one is 53 meters long and the smallest is 23 meters – so it is pretty impressive constructions with large stones which must have taken considerable effort to gather to this location from the surrounding area.
Another attraction of the grave site is a large standing rune stone. The stone was raised by a man called Folkvid in the memory of his son Heden, brother of Anund. I guess the stone is the source of the name of Anundshög despite there is no clear evidence it is actually Anund in the burial mound.
Folkvid must have been a pretty important man since he also decided to build the road pass Anundshög and raise some stone along the road to mark the path.
All in all the area around Anundshög is a very interesting place to explore for a bit. It doesn’t seem to attract many people during the off season and we were alone on this day – but there is a fairly large parking lot next to the burial ground so maybe there will be a bit of a crowd during the summer.