Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A stone ship setting in Sweden


 Arriving back in Oslo, we had one final day with our little car before returning it to the hire company. We'd deliberately given ourselves this extra bit of time, intending to put it to good use for one final adventure - a visit that I had actually planned before we even left home, and something I'd been very excited about since spotting it in one of our guidebooks.

One of the things I love the most about Europe is the freedom to move between countries, and we took advantage of this, driving across the border into Sweden and towards the city of Stromstad. We stopped off in the city itself for lunch and a stroll through its lovely castle, but our main purpose was slightly outside - a nearby stone ship setting. I'd read about these enigmatic sites in the past and was thrilled that we were close enough to pay one a visit.

A stone ship setting is completely self-describing - a series of large standing stones arranged in a familiar boat shape. The size and height of each stone corresponds to its place within a traditional ship curve, and this particular site is over 1500 years old. Situated in a field of wildflowers, we were able to walk freely within the 'ship', an atmospheric experience, especially when considering that it's purpose was likely not as a grave, but perhaps as a ritual site. Walking further across the field, we discovered that the ship was not the only feature - there were also a number of iron age burials and standing stone circles tucked amongst a small wood of pine trees.

The ship setting and nearby iron age burials seemed not to be visited very often, which is a real shame, but benefited us - we wandered alone around the stones, smelling the wildflowers before visiting a nearby cafe for a warm waffle and jam and eventually making our way back to Oslo.


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