Söderslätt: Burial Mound Folklore


Last summer we often indulged ourselves with late afternoon rides around south-west Skåne. Whenever we rode, I’ve always noticed a mound with a lone tree in the distance. It always popped up over the fields and then quickly dipped again only to reemerge again few moments later. It didn’t matter from which direction we approached it; unconsciously we always ended up on the road that passed it.

We never stopped to investigate or to take any photos. That one evening though, during the harvest, seemed like a good opportunity to do so. Harvest dust and setting sun made the fields look like they were on fire.

Brytestuhög can be found just outside Hammarlöv on the road towards Östra Värlinge. The mound is not that impressive in size, but since an old oak grows on it, it’s easy to spot from a great distance.

Locals say that the place is haunted; there’s a folktale about a calf that sometimes comes to the farm next door and likes to help women who live there. Around Christmas time people light candles by the mound too.

Steglarps gravfält

Spetshög, Grefvie hög, Lille hög, Store hög, Sandhög, Grytehög and Melenhög are some of the names of twelve Bronze Age burial mounds found north of Steglarp in Skåne.

This grave field is one of the best preserved burial mound complexes in the Nordic region. The mounds are around 15-20 meters in diameter, while the two most prominent ones, named Bolmers Högar, are 25 meters wide. Twenty church towers can be observed from the mounds and an ancient dirt road still runs among them.

A local tale says that during Christmas Eve trolls can be seen dancing under the three golden pillars on the biggest mound. Another folktale mentions a supernatural hare, högfellaharen (the mound-trap hare), that lives among the mounds and drives hunters into their demise.

Once the hare appeared in a potato field and a farmer, protective of his crops, fired two shots at it. The man clearly saw that the hare got shot, but it continued to run as if nothing had happened. The farmer decided to follow through and fired twice more at the hare. Yet again the hare continued to run unharmed. The farmer got frightened and went home. Shortly afterwards he fell ill and died six months later. Another young man discovered that it was the högfellaharen that the late farmer tried to hunt down. He wanted to try his luck with the trickster hare too, so he tore off one of the silver buttons from his shirt and loaded the rifle with it. He succeeded and the hare was finally killed. When the man approached to examine it closely, he saw that it was just three wooden sticks and an old boot.


Classon C., Duner A., Fornminen i Skåne. En vägvisare, Corona Förlag, Malmö 2001.

Autumn Equinox ’20 – Österlen

A week after my day trip to Smygehuk my parents-in-law drove down and took us for a road trip around Österlen. It’s one of my favorite memories from last year.

We drove along the road number 9. It’s a smaller coastal road perfect for cruising and enjoying the view of the Baltic Sea. We had a fika in Smygehuk’s harbour and later continued along the road through Ystad to Simrishamn, where eventually we had a late lunch. The weather was quite enjoyable; the autumn sun hanged low, trees and grass already started to yellow.

A part of a humongous fairy ring I’ve spotted from the car.

The best part of the trip was a visit to Kiviks Musteri on the east coast. Since it was the apple season, they set up a small harvest festival: pick your own apples, have a fika and taste the local raw products. Before we enjoyed another cup of coffee and buns in the orchard, I’ve stocked up on apples and äpplemust.

While Kivik’s and Simrishamn’s areas are already quite familiar to me, we’ve checked out some previously unknown stone settings along the village roads.


Jarladösen (Earl’s Dolmen) can be found behind a farm in Järrestad, close to where roads 9 and 11 join together. The village is famous for its well preserved petroglyph site Dansarens häll, which is located a bit towards Gladsax. We’ve already been there couple of years ago. But not many know about two dolmens hidden behind the buildings – Jarladösen, also known as Kycklinghönan since it resembles a hen, and Jarlafruns dös.


Vik’s area is known mostly for close proximity of Stenshuvud National Park. But it’s also recognized for apple farming; orchards look truly beautiful this time of the year. Trees bend under the weight of apples as they ripen in the last rays of sunshine. At the end of the village we found Skärabäcksdösen – it was on my list for a while now, but as we took our time and went where the roads took us, we stumbled upon that one by surprise.


On the way back home, cruising through the farms and meadows, I’ve spotted some peculiar structures on the pasture past Vitaby. They turned out to be Bronze Age burial mounds. They are quite eroded now due to extensive farming. Originally it was four of them on the field, but I’ve spotted only two.

Megalithic Walk around Lilla Isie parish

I’ve already visited Erkes dös this spring. The trip was brief though – the day was extremely windy and I haven’t explored the area much more beyond this point. But the information plate got me curious back then. It mentioned a local legend about an ancient path connecting Erkes dös with another grave, Stora Kungsdösen. Also since the Skånetrafiken app kept crashing that day, I’ve still had an unused ticket for this route. Yes, this trip was meant to happen again. I’ve decided to give this walk another go, and follow the trolls’ footsteps.

I took an early train down to Trelleborg. Fields were completely covered with fog, as thick as milk. I saw a roe (or maybe a mythical hare) standing on top of a burial mound. Unfortunately, since I was on a train, I haven’t had time to react and take a picture.

After a short bus ride and a walk through the fields I’ve reached Erkes dös, a majestic passage grave in Lilla Isie. By the entrance to the main chamber there are about 30 cup marks on one of the rocks. The site was excavated in 1915; amber beads and flint offerings have been found.

The local legend says that there used to be a path leading across the fields to the Stora Kungsdösen at Östra Torp. The path was made by trolls who went back and forth to visit each other. The map on Riksantikvarieämbetet (Swedish National Heritage Board) actually shows that an ancient paved road existed in the area. It was uncovered and investigated by Folke Hansen in the 1920s. The road briefly connected Erkes dös with another (now non- existent) passage grave in the south-west, and continued north-east towards Stora and Lilla Kungsdösen.

Stora Kungsdösen is a double passage grave; one of three of this kind in Skåne. Both chambers are exposed as they are missing their roof blocks. Not far from here, 150m to the east, there is another passage grave overgrown by trees. It is locally known as Lilla Kungsdösen.

Fog slowly started to clear up as I walked towards the sea. I’ve continued east on the coastal road and soon after I’ve reached a Bronze Age burial site with a cairn – Flinthög.

I’ve took a small fika in Smygehuk, the southernmost tip of Sweden and whole Scandinavian peninsula. Besides the lighthouse (Smygehuks Fyr) and a small marina there is also a humongous lime kiln to see and an unique viper population to avoid.

There is a Bronze Age burial mound hidden behind the kiln, Bålhög, which served as a navigation point. Before the lighthouse was build in 1883, fires (bål) were lit on the mound to guide ships.

An aged beech tree accompanies the mound; I was very pleased to rest under its branches.