Rock Carvings & Culture in Sweden

One of the best examples of ancient culture in Sweden can be found at the immaculately preserved rock carvings at Glösa. These carvings date back 6000 years and provide a glimpse into what life was like for hunters and gatherers of the Stone Age. Life for the clans folk is depicted with the importance of fire, success’ in hunting and even a story about how a canoe journey nearly turned into a matter of life and death. Immerse yourself into the prehistoric culture of Sweden, at the Moose Clans feast and dance to the setting sun with the serene melody from a moose bone flute.

Hällmåning i Glösa | Foto: Erika Willners

A Glimpse into Prehistoric Culture in Sweden 

Join us for a sneak peek into what life was like at Glösa all those years ago. The gathered clans are clothed in moose skin and tonight is a feast that will go long into the night. The glow from a bonfire lights up the darkness and the gurgling sounds from a brook is heard in the background. Hunters are exchanging goods with each other and paying homage to the spirit gods for their good luck, alongside the shamans, who are praying for continued strength and good fortune. The smoothened stone slabs have carvings of moose and might be a symbol of the continued luck and good fortune the clans wish for. At Glösa you get a glimpse into old culture in Sweden and prehistory.

Sweden in the 21st century

6000 years have since passed today and the narrow pathway leads its way alongside the same brook, past a field that’s home to a horse that lifts his head and looks on nonchalantly. It ́s early morning and the mist is slowly starting to lift and the sun’s rays starts finding its way through the dense forest, like colourful fingers painting radiant nuances of light on the shadows. After about 200 meters you reach the area with the characteristic smoothened stone slabs and the first thing that catches the eye are the rock carvings, stained red with an ochre kind of colour, standing out against the backdrop of earthly tones. Like clear messages from the Stone Age, depicting their everyday struggle for survival against the elements. Pictures of culture in Sweden, a long time ago. In addition, the illustrations portray the importance of the moose to them. King of the forests, the moose was the provider for the Moose Clan. The animal’s meat was a key food source, the skin was used for leather and fur for clothing and the bone and horns were used for tools and implements. The moose dominates the illustrations and it’s no coincidence that a large, stone in the shape of a moose skull is present at a place of worship. The water too plays an important role and it signifies the important border between the peoples live and the spiritual realm.

Forntida vinterhydda i Glösa | Foto: Erika Willners

Culture in Sweden 6000 Years Ago

The best way to understand what culture in Sweden was like 6000 years ago is to actively engage yourself in the Stone Age. Guides at Glösa dress up in authentic clothing made from moose skins, fox hair hats, wear gnarly necklaces of moose teeth and as a result the history and culture oozes out of them. They start regaling their stories about how some 9000 years ago the ice started to melt. Grass, lichen, mosses and other primary growth started spreading over the newly exposed earth. Soon enough, dwarf birch trees’ and other smaller trees took root and grew. Then man came and started exploring the new territory as the ice melted and withdrew more and more. These hunter-gatherers eventually settled into Jämtland Härjedalen in Sweden and the culturally-rich place known as Glösa.

While the guides teach us through their words and stories, it’s the Älghallen hall that really stimulates visitors with the sense of touch of Swedish culture. Replicas of the ancient relics are available to feel, touch and help in getting the feeling for life back in the Stone Age in Sweden. On the wall hangs a copy of a pair of 5300 year old wooden ski’s and the display tables have flint stones that were used as trade items in exchange for moose bone axe heads, arrow tips and needles.

Ancient Cultural Feasts at Glösa

The belief is that the autumn, about the time best for moose hunting, was a time of feasting. The Swedish clans folk we imagine, would head down, torches lit, to the ancient rock carvings and paintings. They would feast on dishes of moose fillet and moose stews while tucking into on eadible greens. The melodious sound of flute and horn music would flow over the smooth rocks from the moose bone instruments and blend with the rhythmic thrumming of skin drums. These are the songs of tribute to the spirits and life would go on late into the night. These feasts are recreated at Glösa today. 

Visitors at the Moose feast will experience how softly the fire eventually extinguishes and the music comes to a still. The only sound that remains is the gurgling of the stream, like an eternal cycle of life. The same stream that flowed 6000 years ago for the clans folk as it is today, the same night that sets over Glösa and the Moose Clan in the safety of the shelter under a still autumn night. At Glösa, culture in Sweden now and then is linked together in a mystical, magical way.

Forntida utställning i Glösa | Foto: Erika Willners

HERE’S THE SKINNY

ACTIVITY

Excursion, Attraction, Outdoor museum.

SEASON

The rock carvings are open for visits 24/7 (visible as long as there is no snow). Guided tours in summer.

START

Turn off from the E14 at Mörsil or Nässkott. Follow Route 666 through to the centre of Alsensjön where signs posts point to Glösa and parking. The Älghallen Hall and rock paintings are 200m further on.

ATTRACTIONS

The Visitor Centre is an interactive display on the Stone Age, the Moose Clans, winter shelter, hunting traps and rock paintings. A time line carved on a tree stump displays the journey of time over 10 000 years. Visitors can also try their hand at Archery, spear throwing and making a fire with flint etc.

GUIDED TOURS

Guided tours are offered during summer.

DON’T MISS

A 5 km system of moose/animal traps containing over 91 traps. These were farmers in historic time, not hunters that built these traps. Moose would be chased into these traps that were concealed with branches and fall in.

ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING?

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