Sweden’s Tanum And Skredsvik Petroglyphs: Thousands Of Spectacular And Intriguing Rock Art

A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - Scandinavia has the largest concentration of Bronze Age rock art in Europe. There are approximately thirty thousand registered sites depicting figurative art (human and animal figures are frequent subjects), abstract and other images such as cup marks and cupules.

Tanum's petroglyphs. Bohuslän, Sweden

Tanum's petroglyphs. Bohuslän, Sweden

At Tanum, near Tanumshede, Bohuslän, Sweden, there is a high concentration of petroglyphs carved rocks of the Nordic Bronze Age. They are known as 'Tanum Petroglyphs'.

Tanum’s petroglyphs. Image credit: SHFA-SvensktHällristningsForskningsArkiv

Tanum’s petroglyphs. Image credit: SHFA-SvensktHällristningsForskningsArkiv

The 'Tanum petroglyphs' contain thousands of images carved on over 600 panels. The ancient site covers an area of about 51 hectares (126 acres (0.5 km²).

There is a great variety of images; there are boats with about 12 passengers, the so-called 'Hjortspring boats' dated to the Scandinavian Pre-Roman Iron Age and excavated for the first time in 1921-22, carts, humans with bows, animals, and weapons like spears and axes.

Tanum’s petroglyphs. Image credit: SvensktHällristningsForskningsArkiv

Tanum’s petroglyphs. Image credit: SvensktHällristningsForskningsArkiv

Ancient artists also commemorated human rituals and hunting scenes depicted in thousands of images on about 600 panels dated from 1800 to 500 BC.

Another remarkable ancient petroglyph site in this region of Sweden is located at Torp, Skredsvik in Goteborgs och Bohus Lan (Bohuslän).

Spectacular rock art at Torp in Skredsvik, Bohuslän, Sweden

Spectacular rock art at Torp in Skredsvik, Bohuslän, Sweden

The rock carvings at the site are spectacular and intriguing; it is a gallery composed of different motifs, gathered in varying compositions and combinations.

The excavations were carried out on different occasions. In 1890, the rock art was surveyed for the first time. In 1990, it was surveyed in detail by Riksantikvarieämbetet (The Swedish National Heritage Board).

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The rock art at Torp consists of almost 1000 figures dispersed in seven different panels located on three main rocks situated within a total distance of 35 meters.

The largest engraving is composed of 1 ship, 1 circle circumscribing one large cup-mark, 562 cupmarks and 101 lines and grooves. On a dome-shaped projecting rock reaching 1,75 meters height and 10 meters diameter.

Two engraved ships of Early Bronze Age type. Photo: Ulf Bertilsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet.

Two engraved ships of Early Bronze Age type. Photo: Ulf Bertilsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet.

The engraved images consist of a combination of those appearing on panel one and panel two, namely 5 ships, 15 foot-prints of which several are paired, 1 cross, 5 fragments, and 167 cup-marks.

On another boulder, unknown ancient artists carved 6 ships, 14 footprints, 3 fragments and 62 cup-marks.

Close up on panel number one from north. On the lower western part of the panel is a big concentration of cup marks and grooves that often connects cup marks. Photo and text: Ulf Bertilsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet

Close up on panel number one from north. On the lower western part of the panel is a big concentration of cup marks and grooves that often connects cup marks. Photo and text: Ulf Bertilsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet

Researchers noted that some of the larger ships with crew-strokes of which some has marked knobs are superimposed by deeply carved and paired foot-prints that seem to have been not only put on top of the ships but also deliberately placed in them with the heels “standing” on the keel-lines, according to researchers.

Tanum Bohuslan Rock Art

The size and shape of the cup-marks and grooves appear in the extreme frequency and research conducted in several similar sites shows that these places have been in use for a long time – from the Late Neolithic and continued throughout the BA (Bronze Age) and into the Pre-Roman Iron Age and at repeated occasions.

Tanum Bohuslan Rock Art

Tanum Bohuslan Rock Art

This panel displays a unique composition of superimposed paired foot-prints where the heels are deliberately placed on the keel lines of ships of early type with headed crew lines. Image credit: Ulf Bertilsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet

This panel displays a unique composition of superimposed paired foot-prints where the heels are deliberately placed on the keel lines of ships of early-type with headed crew lines. Image credit: Ulf Bertilsson, Riksantikvarieämbetet

The Tanum glyphs depict ancient boats, wagons, and carts. Other glyphs depict humans equipped with a bow, ax or spear, and others depict hunting scenes. In all cases, the pictures show people performing rituals or involved in a variety of activities.

One of the larger rocks of Nordic Bronze Age petroglyphs in Scandinavia - the Vitlyckehäll - is 22 meters tall and 6 meters wide. It is located in Tanumshede, in Västra Götaland County, Sweden. It contains nearly 300 carvings of a variety of scenes, people, and objects.

Written by – A. Sutherland AncientPages.com Staff Writer

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