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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala) - Sweden: Beowulf and Burial Mounds

Just slightly north of Sigtuna, lies the archaeological area of Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala).

Though it wasn't that far away, HH was tired and wanted to take a break when we were only 2 km away. I so wanted to get there before the visitor's center closed. I pleaded. He was tired. And we ended up driving into a ditch, which required a nice passerby to stop and push us out. Eek!

We eventually made it and were greeted with this sight.

Gamla Uppsala 1

From the 3rd century A.D. onwards, Gamla Uppsala was an important religious, economic, and political center for the pagan Svear tribe, where Sverige (Sweden) got its name. The Swedish kings of the Yngling dynasty lived and were buried here. Gamla Uppsala was even mentioned in the Old English epic poem Beowulf. There's a walking path around nine large burial mounds, with English descriptions.

According to the Wikipedia section on Beowulf, an 1874 excavation of the mound of Eadgils, a semi-legendary king of Sweden, revealed confirmation of parts of the Beowulf story. In Beowulf, he gained the throne by defeating his uncle Onela. The excavation showed that around 575 A.D., a man, dressed in a suit of Frankish cloth with golden threads, was buried in a large barrow on a bear skin with two dogs and rich grave offerings. The offerings included a Frankish sword decorated with gold and garnets and a tafl game with Roman ivory pawns. There were four cameos from the Middle East which may have been part of a casket. All in keeping with someone of wealth and importance.

I'm not sure if the mound in the photo below is the correct one, but if you look at the bottom on the far right side, the rock represents where archaeologists dug to excavate the tomb.

Gamla Uppsala 2

The walking path goes around all of the mounds.

Gamla Uppsala 3

You can read all Europe posts with the tag Series: Europe, but I suggest reading this particular trip in this order:
"Meet-Cute" Stockholm - Sweden
Helsinki - Finland: A Two-Night Cruise and One Day
Sigtuna - Sweden: More Rune Stones Than Any Other Town
Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala) - Sweden: Beowulf and Burial Mounds
Uppsala - Sweden: Birthplace of Celsius
Tallinn - Estonia: A Two-Night Cruise and One Day
Eger and Sirens Valley - Hungary: Floral? Fruity? Woody Notes? What Notes?
Agios Georgios, Corfu Town, and Vidos Island, Corfu - Greece
Glass Bottom Boat, Corfu - Greece
Gaios, Paxos Island - Greece
Parga - Greece
Autostitch of Parga - Greece
Paleokastritsa, Corfu - Greece
Butrint and Saranda - Albania

Gamla Uppsala Visitor's Center
Open May to August 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
+46 018 239 300

1 year ago today, Perfectly "Peachy" Nectarine Pie.


  1. looks so beautiful!! the first picture reminds me of the windows background.

  2. Tania,
    They're massive graves! :P Hehe, I thought of the Windows desktop too when I was uploading the photos.

  3. It's interesting that it looks like pasture now, even though it was an area important area hundreds of years ago. I'd expect there would be piled rocks or something that signifies past occupancy. But what do I know? I'm not an archaeologist.

    I've got a strange fascination for old epic stories, like Beowulf. I love visiting sites of old ruins, graves and historical stuff like that. My favorite part of going to language school in DK was history. So fascinating to learn about the vikings and Nordic mythology too.

    And yes, I do love your posts about travel!

  4. Darlene,
    I only took pictures of the burial mounds. We were crunched for time and didn't get much of a chance to look around. I don't know if they would have built the village next to burial mounds though. Seems a bit morbid to me, but what do I know? :)

  5. What a beautiful landscapes I'm astonished with those beautiful views I remember when I was in Sweden and I could know a lot of beautiful places.

  6. Carlo,
    I loved Sweden! I had no expectations and loved my time there.


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