Fagertofta Burial Ground

Fagertofta burial ground lays north of Nässjö on a banked meadow sheltered by a forest. The area was excavated and restored in 1940s – amost all graves date to the Iron Age. The burial site is also known as Domsätet, due to the presence of dommaringar*, and Hallängen – The Hall Meadow. Never heard of this place before. I’ve discovered it in an old book I’ve got from an antique bookshop.

The grave field contains 42 ancient stone formations varied in form, shape and size. Mostly stone circles (38, including 25 domarringar) but there is also a Bronze Age cairn (for cremation burials) and a mysterious three-armed barrow with an altar. What’s unusual, one of the circles is formed from 6 tiny dolmens, also known as “lying hens”.

By the gravel road leading to the site there is an old sacrificial well, Midsommarkällan. It was used in the past for ritual ablutions during Midsummer celebrations.

We approached the site during a very hot and sunny afternoon, so shooting conditions were far from ideal. I walked around the stones for a while, briefly composing my shots and waiting for clouds to set in. Maybe it was a symptom of a sunstroke, but I swear I could hear the chanting among the dolmen ring coming from the dark forest behind it. The official information leaflet does warn about “playing around” the stones – that can make one ill.

* Domarringar – Stone circles with odd number of stones (usually 7 or 9); often with an additional stone in the middle. The name might came from a medieval view that judge rings were a kind of court places where important decisions were made. With the odd number of stones, a judgment could always pass.

You can find more photos from this location in my Flickr album.

Ales Stenar

Don’t get fooled by Skånes flat and mundane landscape. It certainly IS the place where magic happens – ancient stones might speak to you when you dare to listen. Especially here. At the southernmost tip of Sweden, where land meets endless sky and sea.

Ales Stenar is truly a remarkable megalithic monument. You can find it in Kåseberga, a couple of kilometres east from a charming little town of Ystad. The stone complex is located on a cliff overlooking my beloved Baltic Sea. It is 67 meters long, formed by 59 large boulders in a shape of an oval ship. Worth noting: stones at both ends are much larger than the rest. These rocks have been erected probably around the end of Nordic Iron Age, but neither me, nor my scientific sources, can be sure about the exact date of creation. Opinions in this matter vary greatly – from 5,000 BC to 10th century AD.

Ales Stenar has been used as a burial ground for centuries. Excavations performed on the site in 1989 verified this theory. Many clay pots with charred human bones have been found at that time, proving that the burial rituals were performed there for many, many centuries. Other archaeological findings include traces of bonfires and feasts.

But there is more! The specific placement of the boulders denotes that this construction has been used as a solar calendar too. Those bigger stones, that I’ve mentioned before, precisely mark the sun’s positions on the sky during Summer and Winter solstices. And those can be observed while standing on the flat stone in the middle of the circle during sunrises and sunsets, respectively.

The obvious multi functionality of this place is not a surprise to me, as ancient societies worshiped their ancestors, deities and nature in one sacred space. And as of this years Midsummer, thankfully this tradition is not over yet.

You can see more photos from this location in my Flickr album.

Blå Jungfrun

Blå Jungfrun plays an important role in Swedish folklore, as for centuries it’s been connected to witchcraft, devil worship and is said to be a home to female supernatural beings.

The Blue Maiden is a small, granite island rising 86 meters above the waters of Baltic Sea. It is situated in the Kalmar Strait between Småland and Öland. Bio-diverse and truly unique, it’s been a national park since 1926.

The island also goes by another cursed name – Blåkulla. In the past, those who were sailing close to its shores, avoided using the cursed name when referring to the island. They believed that storms would brew up immediately if they used it. Due to this the island became known as Blå Jungfrun instead.

As the island is uninhibited (at least by the regular mortals) and there’s no sweet water or electricity present, visiting is limited to short, day visits only during summertime. Visitors can’t stay overnight either, besides one or two organised trips per year.

Blå Jungfrun is viewed as an evil and magical place full of supernatural powers. According to popular belief witches gather here every Ostara (a pagan beginning of the year) to worship devil himself. This is a part of the tradition among the local folk. In Oskarshamn, the closest town, around Easter time you can even see the signs to watch out for low flying witches ; )

Archaeological excavations done in 2014 brought evidence that the island was used for ritual purposes for the last 9,000 years. People who traveled to the island might have practiced various rituals inside the two caves. First one could serve as an altar where offerings could have been made to deities. While another cave has an area that could have been used like a theater or stage.

But with no doubt Blå Jungfrun’s magical power relates to the Trojeborg Stenlabyrinten, an ancient stone labyrinth, that lies on the southern side of the island.

According to the locals, anyone who removes the stones from this labyrinth will be cursed with a lifetime of bad luck until they will bring them back. Obviously the stones are illegal to take from the island because of its national park status. But apparently there’s a lot of truth behind this superstition. And let me tell you – it IS a thing among the locals.

In fact the town of Oskarshamn yearly receives stolen stones from former Blå Jungfrun visitors, often along with letters describing misfortunes and disasters that happened to them after removing the stones. In 2004 over 160 such stones were publicly brought back to the island on a ferry from Oskarshamn.

You can see more photos from this location in my Flickr album.