Trip to Uppsala together with Österhus vänner, May 2017

Trondheim vikinglag was invited to an educational trip to Uppsala in Sweden together with our friends from Österhus vänner. It was a wonderful weekend filled with lots of trips to museums, lots of burial mounds, a huge amounts of rune stones, great talks, lots of laughter together with friends, sauna, alcohol and a bagpipe playing naked Finn… (What?! Is there pictures? Scroll down and see!)

​But first, a little history.

Uppsala is a very old and interesting town with lots of history. It’s also a very “mythical” place. This means that we do not really know for sure if the things we can read about Uppsala is actually true or not. Many of the written sources we have were written hundreds of years after the events took place. We must therefore take it with a small pinch of salt. We must be critical! Using multiple sources together, like archaeological findings, art and written sources, we will get a better understanding of the past. This text is not meant as an educational text, it is only meant as a small introduction to Uppsala as a historical place.

So, according to the medieval writers (now, remember the pinch of salt!) Adam of Bremen (Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum) and Snorre Sturlason (Heimskringla), Uppsala was the main pagan centre of Sweden during the viking age and the town had a temple which supposedly contained magnificent idols of the norse gods. If you’ve seen the series Vikings, this is the place (that they have tried to replicate) where Ragnar and his family went to sacrifice to the gods. Adam of Bremen describes a temple devoted to Odin, Thor and Frey and how sacrifices of both animals and humans were made.  The trees were considered to be divine, and sacrifices were said to have been hanged from trees and left to rot, and elaborate ritual songs were sung. According to the sources, the temple was located in what is now known as Gamla Uppsala, Old Uppsala. The old town of Uppsala was actually located a few kilometres north of where the city is currently location.

Findings of extensive tree structures and log lines together with different other archaeological findings supports that there has been on-site activities. Under the present church in Old Uppsala there have been found remains of one or several large wooden buildings. Some archaeologists believe that these are the remains of the temple, while others believe that these are remains of an earlier Christian wooden church.

There has been found large amounts of historical findings in the ground in and around Uppsala, there’s many burial mounds in the area and Uppsala has been mentioned in many different sources. People have been living and buried in Uppsala for at least 2000 years and the findings are evidences of that. There have been found evidence of settlements all the way back to the nordic bronze age even though most of the grave fields are from the iron age and the viking age. It’s been said that Uppsala was the place to bury the royals and maybe the high concentration of burial mounds is an evidence of that. At least there were some rich people living there. Originally there were between 2000 and 3000 mounds in the area but most of them have become farmland, gardens and quarries. Today only 250 mounds remain.

Almost the whole group gathered together in front of the Uppdala mounds.

Three of these (seen in the picture above) are today called The Royal mounds (Swedish: Kungshögarna). They are the biggest and best known burial mounds in Uppsala and they are located in Old Uppsala. According to ancient folklore, the mounds were made for Odin, Thor and Frey. Later they thought that the mounds were made for kings of the legendary House of Ynglings. Today their geographical locations are instead used to name the mounds and they are called the Eastern moundMiddle Mound and Western Mound.

(Sources and inspiration: Wikipedia: Uppsala, Battle of Fyrirvellir, Temple of Uppsala, Gamla Uppsala)

Here are some pictures I took during the trip showing some of the rune stones that we saw, some of archaeological findings found at some of the museums and then just fun and games. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for a great weekend! We should do this again. And a huge thank you to Elias who organized the whole sha-bang!

Oh yeah! That’s right! I promised a picture of a naked bagpipe playing Finn… Well, I can’t give you a naked one because of artistic creation, but I can give you a almost naked Finn playing the bagpipe. Here you go! The drawing is made by Bert-ola Henriksson Nordenberg. Thanks you letting me show everyone. It’s so awesome!

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