This week we’ve been having a “holiday within a holiday”, relaxing in Sweden’s most southerly county, Skåne. We’ve hardly driven any distance at all. From Lund, we drove East to the Coast, then followed the coast South and West again.
We’ve visited some lovely little villages. Here’s Kivik, where we stayed a couple of nights (a rarity for us – we generally keep moving!):
On the outskirts of Kivik is the Kungagraven (“King’s Grave, though there’s no evidence that it was actually the grave of a king), discovered in 1748 when two locals taking stones from it fell into the chamber below…..
It’s a Bronze Age burial site. The 75m diameter cairn (which would’ve been higher before the locals started recycling the stones) contains a burial cist made from engraved slabs:
A bit further down the coast we had a day exploring Stenshuvud National Park. It’s tiny (around 4 square kilometres) but a nice place to wander round. The last photo is Mark looking for frogs. We didn’t see any…. Nor did we see any of the sand lizards that were promised in another part of the park. I think Mark’s finally got over the disappointment…… 😉
Many of the villages we passed through had lovely little marinas. This one’s at Simrishamn:
Just South of Simrishamn we came to Horshallen, the “Rock of Axes”. These are early Bronze Age rock carvings of ships (very similar to the ones we’ve seen elsewhere), axes, and men carrying axes. This chap looks very pleased with himself (no, not Mark, the guy in the second picture)!
Turning the corner onto the South Coast, we came to Ales Stenar which our book describes as Sweden’s Stonehenge. It’s nothing like Stonehenge (though I can see how they came up with the comparison). It’s a ship setting, not a henge. There is no huge car park filled with coaches spitting out tour groups of every nationality, no beaming English Heritage / National Trust staff flogging tickets at £15.50 a time, and no fleet of buses to then ferry you to the monument itelf. Oh, and when you get there, the background noise is that of baaing sheep, not the thundering traffic on the A303……
Ales Stenar is an Iron Age ship setting on a ridge near the coast, 67 metres long and 19 metres wide, comprising 59 boulders.
The stones are aligned with the Sun at various stages of the year. Viewed from the centre of the ship, at the Winter equinox, for example, the Sun rises at the SE end of the ship and sets at the SW mid-point, and at the Summer equinox, it rises at the NE end of the ship and sets at the NW mid-point.
Continuing West, we had a look at the pretty medieval town centre of Ystad:
Then we passed Trelleborg and continued to Skånor, on a tiny peninsula off the very SW corner of Sweden. From here we could clearly see the huge bridge across from Malmö to Denmark. Next time…..
Skånor seemed quite posh: there were two Ferraris in the car park and a very pricey-looking eatery down by the harbour festooned in Moet signs…. We weren’t asked to leave though 😂 We enjoyed watching the local kids sailing dinghies, particularly one gung-ho young lad, who seemed determined for his day to end in disaster! We can’t be sure but we think that against all the odds, he may have got away with it…..
Sunday was our last day in Sweden, so we headed to the nearby Forteviken Viking Museum for one last bit of pillaging…. This is a reconstructed late Viking age / early medieval settlement where they do “experimental archaeology” (“dressing up and playing Viking”, in other words….). It was interesting enough….
Foteviken was an important site back in Viking times. This part of what is now southern Sweden belonged to Denmark after it was conquered by Harald Bluetooth around 980AD. There’s an unfinished ring fort and a harbour protected by wooden staves driven into the sea bed, stones, and even intentionally sunken ships. The Battle of Foteviken in 1134 happened after King Erik the Always Good died, his brother Niels became King, then Niels’ son Magnus decided it would be a good idea to kill his cousin (Erik’s son) Knut to make sure the crown didn’t pass back to Erik’s line after Niels died. There’s a Bayeux-style tapestry of the story in one of the reconstructed houses (we weren’t told who did it and when, but it’s very good). Here’s Knut being horribly murdered by Magnus (we’re not sure why their outfits change from one scene to the next):
Magnus was killed in the battle, though his dad Niels managed to escape back to his ship. Knut’s younger brother Erik (son of Erik) then became King…. (hmmm why did Magnus think that killing just one of Erik the Always Good’s sons would solve anything…?):
Sunday night was spent on an aire close to the ferry port at Trelleborg, ready for our Monday morning crossing.
So here we are, it’s 8am and we’re queued up nice and early for our 9.30am ferry and the start of our next adventure. Poland here we come! 😎😎😎