Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Drottninghall – traces of the Bronze Age



View of Southern Bjäre and the Kullen peninsula from Drottninghall

Almost two years ago, my sis and I walked down to Drottninghall and I took some pics, thinking of telling you the story of the place, but because this was in August, other things got in between and I never showed the photos or told about Drottninghall. Now a comment on another post made me remember the pics and why not post them now at once so I don't forget about it another two years?


I went to school in Västra Karup and remember how many times made little trips around the village (and also further away on Bjäre, places like the island of Hallands Väderö and the dramatic coastline at Hovs Hallar). One of the places we went once was Drottninghall. Here, while gazing over the village and seeing Kullen peninsula by the horizon, we were told the story of the footprints. According to legend they were the footprint of a queen who passed by. What queen and why she left the prints vary. One version claims it was queen Margareta (or Margaret I of Denmark as she's known in english) and that she either stepped out to admire the view or fell out of her carriage. The cup marks (skålgroparna) are said to be the paw prints of her dogs. This story would explain the name: Drottning means queen and hall or häll a slab of exposed rock.

Other stories claim that the footprints come from a ghost whom the priest "läste fast" ("read stuck") on the rock after he had very loudly haunted the village of Västra Karup. The prints are the only thing remaining of the ghost and the cup marks are the marks of his tears. Of cause, there was also a general belief in southern Sweden that cup marks were fairy mills and that you could perform magic or wish for luck by placing items in the hollows.

You can read more about these stories – in swedish – here. There you'll also find a good photo of the carvings, filled in with red paint which have faded now and is covered in lichen, making it harder to see the carvings. You can also find photos of them here.




We school kids were only told the most child-friendly story, the story of the queen, as far as I can remember. And of cause we were also told about the real history beyond local folklore, about how the cup marks, footprint carvings and grooves (sliprännor) are bronze age petroglyphs carved by people living here a long time ago during the south-scandinavian Bronze Age (1 800 – 500 BC). Some of our oldest ancestors.





(By the way, the little droppings are from the sheep that graze the little wedge of pasture between two of Bjäre's many roads that converge just below Drottninghall. Two of the culprits can be found in the photo below.)



Apart from the carvings there's also a burial mound from the same age nearby – pretty much behind the house in the middle of the picture below. It's named Revhögen och Rävhögen, the latter meaning the Fox Mound. Bjäre in general have many mounds, one of the mound densest places in Sweden, and there are of cause much folklore surrounding them. I'm afraid I don't have a good story about this particular mound, though. No trolls (otherwise very common), no buried viking king (the second most common folklore surrounding mounds), no treasures that can't be salvaged without horrendous punishments from dark powers, no burials over mysterious english princes.





No one knows exactly why the petroglyph sites were situated where they were. They're concentrated to a handful of places on Bjäre and Drottninghall is one of them. One archaeologist have put forward the idea that they were created along roads between settlements where perhaps people met or safety was needed. Most likely they were used in rituals, but we don't know how ritual places were chosen. One thing about this particular place, though, is the view – you know, the reason why the queen stepped out of her carriage here (unless she fell out, that is). Because of the hilly terrain you can get some fab views of the landscapes every here and there on Bjäre and this is one of the good spots. Just see the photos below.






Drottninghall is one of the stops on the Bjäre bronze age trail that was created some years ago. It's two trails, the northern and the southern trail, which you can walk/bike/drive along to experience some of the ancient monuments here on the peninsula. The places along the trails are marked out with signs like the one below. The square symbol is a prehistoric symbol used in Sweden and other countries to mark a noteworthy places (often, but not always, an ancient or historic place/monument/ruin). The petroglyph boat with the stars is a sign for the trail, the star arc reminding us that the trails were created as part of an EU project (cf. the PCL logo).



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