Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Excursion #4: Glimmingehus and Ales Stenar, “The Viking Stonehenge”

This past weekend, we traveled to the southern area of Skåne to explore some of the most famous tourist attractions in the area and in Sweden.

First, we went to Hammenhög and toured Glimmingehus, a very large stone house that dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s the best preserved building of its kind in Scandinavia and was home to rich noblemen who constructed the building to stand up to attacks from peasants and looters. It is, of course, surrounded by a moat, but there are other features of the house to protect its former residents and their riches.

For example, the individual stairsteps in the building are very tall. Our tour guide told us that this was a way to prevent soldiers (weighed down by very heavy armor) from successfully scaling the stairs and stealing the valuables on the floors above. On the third floor of the building, there are several holes in the floor that, in the past, were manned by the nobleman’s soldiers, ready to pour boiling hot oil or water down on enemies who had entered the building. The inhabitants of Glimmingehus could also keep an eye out for unwelcome visitors from the top of the roof, where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Germany.

That said, the building has never actually come under attack. Apparently rumors spread far and wide that it would be a BAD plan to attack this house (and so I guess their defense systems worked!).

After Glimmingehus, we got back on the bus and headed for Kåseberga, on the southern coast of Skåne. Our first stop in town was to walk down to the harbor and eat some smoked fish! Our program coordinators had arranged for a taste test at one of the local smokehouses. I was a little nervous – while I do like fish, I was wary after my pickled herring adventures during midsummer.

We were served two kinds of smoked mackerel (“makrill”) and one kind of herring (“sill”). They were delicious!! It’s definitely worth a trip back to the Kåseberga/Ystad area of Sweden just to get my hands on some more of that fish and to enjoy the beautiful shoreline.

After lunch, we hiked up a huge hill to see “the Viking Stonehenge”: Ales Stenar (or “Ale’s Stones), a 1500 year old set of stones in the outline of a ship. It’s over 200 feet long and is made up of 59 stones. Like Stonehenge, there is a lot of speculation as to how and why the stones got there. Theories range from burial monuments to sun clocks or calendars. It’s pretty cool looking and it sits on a top of a hill with a stunning view! Though I’ve found it’s pretty hard to find a view here in Sweden that isn’t stunning…

Still more to come, but I can only crank out these blogs so fast. I need to go study some Swedish!

Vi ses!


Sally said...

The picture from the smoked fish place are postcard worthy...and delicious looking!

Nice that you could be "up close and personal" with the stones. Stonehenge had so many problems with people defacing the stones that they keep people at a distance.

Sally said...

commenting on blogs is different from email! Your typos stay there for everyone to read...