Bronze Age barrows - Labyrinth - Ceremonial road - Fertility rites - Settlements with firecracked stones
The Rösaring cult site has attracted many people through the ages, and has been reported by scholars since the 1670s. Yet it is still not a major tourist site, and no signposts lead from the main roads to this marvellous place - marvellous in many aspects, geological, archeological, historical.
It is situated on one of the largest glacial ridges in Scandinavia, at its highest part in the Mälar region. In the Stone Age, the site of future Stockholm was just seabed, and the Rösaring site was a small island far out in the archipelago, not suitable for settlement. By the Bronze Age, due to land rising, people could establish themselves at the foot of the ridge, using the ridge itself for burials and ceremonies. The Roman Tacitus wrote 2000 years ago "They worshipped the gods in the open air, not hiding them behind walls".
|Rösaring was noticed in 1684 by Hadorph, known as the "father"
of Swedish antiquarian research. He wrote: "... a high hill called Röra
backe, where there is a Troijenborg ... there has been much sacrifice to
the gods in olden days". In other old annals the place is described as
Labyrinths in Sweden have long been called "Trojeborg", indicating a relationship to the city of Troy, as it is found in old nordic literature. The labyrinth at Rösaring is one of the largest ones and owing to other objects in the neigbourhood it is regarded to be one of the most interesting and oldest in Scandinavia in the catalogue of labyrinths published by the Historical Museum in Stockholm 1994.
Though the place has been investigated by professionals for centuries it was a local amateur archaeologist who found the processional road that was excavated by amateurs in 1981-82. This road is unique. It stretches almost exactly northsouth from a point 540 m north of a flattened mound into which it leads. We donÝt know for certain what is inside the mound. A main aim of coming excavations is to find out whether it is a grave or a ceremonial platform.
Arguments for the latter are based on three factors, all indicating fertility cult: labyrinths are mostly connected with fertility cult; so are wagongods using roads, the ceremony decribed by Tacitus; place names in the neighbourhood also call attention to fertility cult, we find both male and female gods from the period before the Viking Age. The same pattern is to be found near all labyrinths lying on ridges crossing Lake Mälar. All this is brought forward by John Kraft in a book now being published by the Historical Museum of Stockholm.
|To these ideas we may one day add theories from astronomers and many
others. Some have even claimed to find unusual earth magnetism by divining
at the Rösaring site.
Rösaring is indeed a fascinating place.Even for those unfamiliar with its history and archeology, its natural beauty is a great attraction.
Röring is situated some 40 km northwest of Stockholm on the northern shore of Lake Mälar in the municipality of Upplands-Bro. A local bus will take you to a place some 30 minutes walk from Rösaring a few times every day. Public communications are not good, but in summertime a youth hostel is open at a boarding school less than 30 minutes walk from Rösaring.
Up to the thirteenth century Lake Mälar was a bay of the Baltic Sea. One of the main sea routes passed Rösaring via Södertälje - Birka - Rösaring - Uppsala - Valsgärde - Vendel. When going to Rösaring you pass close to a famous runestone using the very word "vikings", the only complete runetext naming them. Vikings from the east were often a problem in this area according to old tales.
Not far from Rösaring, along the old Viking route, you will find hillforts, one of them among the largest in the county of Uppland.
On this map drawn by Willem Barents and engraved in 1598 Rösaring would be situated between Stockholm and Uppsala, "on an island in the ocean", as said by the Roman historian Tacitus.
Sailors at that time still regarded Lake Mälar as a bay of the Baltic Sea.
Upplands-Bro Research Institute
Other articles in Swedish - Historiskt intressant