As soon as we installed ourselves in Skövde, we drove up here after a day long drive down from Bollnäs. Just in time for the sunset. Last warm rays of sunlight made the grass turn copper; swarms of flies became fairy dust. As I was walking around the meadow a pair of birds kept me company and followed me wherever I went. Even though I couldn’t identify them, I was grateful for their company for the evening, as it sometimes gets lonely among the graves. Soon after we left to catch Amundstorp in the last moments of the golden hour.

Ekornavallen is an ancient burial ground in the Falköping Municipality in Sweden. Situated in Slafsan River valley, it contains a variety of ancient monuments dating from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages.

What’s unusual, there were no settlements in the area until the 18th century. As of the late 19th century the area was plowed up, which sadly destroyed many of the precious remains.

Today Ekornavallen contains four passage graves and a gallery grave from the Neolithic period, as well as cairns from the Bronze Age, stone circles, twelve standing stones (bautastenar) – marking the Iron Age burials, eight round stone settings and one triangular stone setting. Many stones are adorned with cup marks too. It is estimated that the field was in use for over a six to seven thousand-year period.

The largest, and best known, grave on a meadow is the Neolithic passage grave Girommen. According to historians the name translates to the giant woman’s oven. It could be a resting place of many individuals, possibly an entire family. The burial chamber is thirteen meters long and two meters wide. It stands on a barely recognizable stone setting that is 37 meters in diameter. All boulders are made of sandstone except for the granite roof stone; probably a glacial erratic from Närke. The grave was restored in the 1940s and some burial offerings such as amber beads, pottery shards and a flint chisel have been found. In recent years the walls has been filled to prevent the passage grave from further collapse.

Sources (access Nov 2021):
1. www.sfv.se/fastigheter/sok/sverige/vastra-gotalands-lan/ekornavallen
2. www.vastsverige.com/en/falkoping/produkter/ekornavallen
3. www.

Cup marks – rock art in folklore

Stones with cup marks can be found in Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Poland and many other countries. They first started to appear in Bronze Age among other rock carvings like ships, animals and human figures. They were also carved on cult stones from previous eras, e.g. on Neolithic dolmens. Cup marks also commonly appeared on tops and sides of freestanding boulders. After the disappearance of pagan religions they continued to be surrounded with magical practices and superstitions of rural societies.

Erkes dös. A passage grave in Lilla Isie, Skåne

In Swedish lore cup marks were also referred to as älvkvarnar – elven mills, because people believed that elves use the pits at night to grind flour. Written records confirm that they were important in popular belief from the 17th to the 20th century. It doesn’t come as surprise that such stones have been a subject to many rituals and magical performances.

Utrikestenen near Lofta, Småland

Empty cup marks had been smeared with grease, after which sacrifices were made. Seeds, grains and coins were left as offerings in the pits. Rites were practiced by females, most probably wise women. The greasing was performed at sunset in counterclockwise motion, preferably three times. The smearing ritual supposedly cured various diseases caused by vindictive elves. Sources mention another healing practice: the rainwater, which collected in the holes, was considered to be a great remedy against warts.

Ballersten. A boulder with cup marks in Falköping, Västra Götaland

Similar beliefs existed in Slavic folklore as well. Water gathered in cup marks healed various ailments, especially eye diseases.

Stones with cup marks were later commonly associated with the cult of Mother Mary, when the pagan traditions were replaced (or rather overwritten) by the new faith. As both were eagerly blended together by rural folk, stones were of course considered very special. They served as sacrifice altars for the old gods and supernatural beings, and at the same time for Christian saints. Such stones could even protect from floods and wildfires. But some of them were affiliated with the devil and malicious forces – depending on the region.

A boulder in Malmö, Skåne

Polish archeologists link cup marks with fertility rites and kindling of the ritual fire during Midsummer and spring celebrations. It’s quite possible they were also used in funerary rites and to honor the ancestors.

1. Ullén Inga, Lyckostenar, http://historiska.se/upptack-historien/artikel/lyckostenar (access 5/01/21)
2. Åmark Mats, När de sista skålgroparna smordes, http://www.ukforsk.se/gropar3.htm (access 5/01/21)
3. Woźny Jacek, Archeologia kamieni symbolicznych, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Kazimierza Wielkiego, Bydgoszcz 2014.


The Silverfallet-Karlsfors Nature Reserve is located at Billingen’s northern tip, about 13 km northwest of Skövde. The reserve is a beautiful forest area with a stream flowing through and falling 50 m down on a relatively short distance. There are a couple of larger waterfalls and very shallow small-stepped terraces. Here and there you can also stumble upon ruins of abandoned alum and lime quarries.

Silverfallet is perfect for somebody who enjoys short, casual hikes but likes to fully immerse themselves in the magic of natural world. On our way to the falls we met a spotted woodpecker fiercely pecking a tree stump in the search of bugs. The bird posed for a while and left. Soon after we reached the highest part of the falls – the terraces. The area is ideal for day camping; water babbles peacefully in the background. Lower parts are easy to reach by wooden stairs; there are at least 3 more waterfalls to see.

Since I always go for photos, I thought it would be nice to start recording short clips to capture the beauty of flowing water better.

Midsummer ’20 – The Road Trip

  1. Oskarshamn – our trip starts here
  2. Kvilleken – a 1000 y/o oak tree
  3. Ryningsholms Gravfält – Iron Age grave field
  4. Fagertofta Gravfält and Midsommarkällan – Bronze Age grave field and a ritual spring
  5. Jönköping – where we spent the first night; great view over Lake Vättern
  6. Luttra Dolmen – truly majestic neolithic tomb
  7. Kyrkerörs Gånggrift and Ballersten – a neolithic passage grave and a stone with cup marks
  8. Silverfallet in Karlsfors – a small nature reserve with waterfalls
  9. Iron Wolf’s MC – pretty self-explanatory; not marked
  10. Askeberga Skeppssättning – stone ship build out of humongous stones
  11. Haga and Lunneslätt Dolmens – hidden in the mossy forest on beautiful Orust Island
  12. Trollhättan – we spent second and third night here
  13. Vitlycke Museum in Tanumshede – lots of petroglyphs here
  14. Greby Gravfält – biggest grave field in Bohuslän
  15. Ulmekärr Labyrinth – one of the best preserved Trojaborg labyrinths in Sweden
  16. Blomsholms Skeppssättning – a picturesque stone ship; as far north as we’ve got
  17. Hällristningar in Massleberg – a small panel with carvings hidden over the road
  18. Massleberg Dolmen – a neolithic tomb resting in the shade
  19. Hällristningar in Massleberg II – gigantic stone panel with very spectacular carvings laying on a slope
  20. Älgafallet – amazing waterfall on a border with Norway
  21. Nässjö – the butthole of Småland? I take it back now!

This road trip took us roughly 4 days. I’ve actually planned a lot (too much?) for us to see on our honey-moon-midsummer-road-trip. Some places didn’t work out – mostly waterfalls and some stone circles. Some other were a surprise as we’ve discovered them by accident. Extremely hot and sunny weather was perfect for a trip, though a bit tiring I’d say, but not so perfect for shooting. Everything went better than expected, we had a lot of fun and I’ve brought plenty of photos home. The greatest trip ever!