Anundshög: Sweden’s largest Viking burial site

Being a bit of a History geek one of my favourite things about travelling is encountering ancient cultures and histories, and where better to be than Scandinavia—home of the Viking

Don’t tell me you’ve never wanted to dress up as a Viking…

Britons, in particular, will be very familiar with the image of the aggressive, bearded Norsemen who raped and pillaged their way onto British shores in the late 8th Century. Although this view is the popular portrayal of the Vikings, in reality their presence in Great Britain brought many benefits.

By the end of the 9th century Viking settlements were prolific across Great Britain, and the Vikings are widely considered to have brought advanced weaponry and farming techniques to the island, as well as significantly influencing the language.

Rather than coming as oppressors, the Vikings worked alongside communities teaching their advanced skills in leather, wood, and metal work.

They adopted Christianity and introduced coinage. Therefore when the Vikings returned to Scandinavia they left behind efficient working settlements that were fully equipped to trade. The Vikings helped to establish England and Scotland as separate territories.

Viking Fest, Vietnam

The mark of the Viking is also still discernible across the landscape of Sweden.

Västerås, some 100 km from Stockholm, is home to Anundshög, Sweden’s largest Viking burial mound. Large mounds called Tumuli indicate where a body, or bodies, are buried. Although it is not known who is buried here, the scale of the site suggests that it was a very important man—most likely a king. 

The Tumulus in the background is 30ft high

The stones of Anundshög are formed in the shape of two longboats standing end-to-end and would have formed the centre-piece of all Bronze-Age activity.

As Anundshög is believed to be a site of great importance, even being included on the European Council’s Viking Route, activity probably included routine sacrifice, prayer, and burial.

Perhaps Anundshög’s most important role may have been as setting for a ‘Thingstead’, an assembly where governing bodies would discuss issues and make important decisions.

Local enactment of a traditional ‘Thing’

Anundshög may not be as large or as impressive as, say, Stonehenge, but it is a fascinating insight into life in the Bronze and Iron ages. It is definitely worth a walk around. Unlike Stonehenge, Anundshög has no entry fee and visitors are able to walk freely amongst the stones.

Long-boat formations
Amongst the stones
You can’t get this close at Stonehenge!

You can find more information about Anundshög on the home page. For more about Sweden go to Visit Sweden.

Do you enjoy visiting sites of historical significance? Which one is your favourite?  Do you know of any other Viking sites that I should visit? Please leave a comment below!

Post Author
Runaway Brit


  1. posted by
    D.J. – The World of Deej
    Jul 16, 2012 Reply

    Great history lesson, but an even better spot… I had never heard of this location before… Awesome stuff…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..A Battle with Post-Trip Depression

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Jul 17, 2012 Reply

      That’s one of the things I like best about Sweden, things are so low-key here. If this site was in the UK there would be a fence stopping you from going any closer that 50 metres, a million people and a hefty entrance fee. Of course I think things like this need to be preserved but it’s such a shame when you can’t really experience them properly.

  2. posted by
    Aug 2, 2012 Reply

    I hadn’t heard of these stones either! It looks so mysterious, more so than Stonehenge, but maybe that’s just because I have seen waaaay too many photos of Stonehenge. 😉
    Audrey recently posted..WANTED for Illegal Dumping

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Aug 4, 2012 Reply

      It’s an interesting place. The stones are not as large as the ones in Stonehenge, but they are equally mysterious. And there was nobody else there at all when I visited!

  3. posted by
    Aug 8, 2012 Reply

    I love learning about history when I travel as it’s so different when you visit a place compared to what you might read in a book. It’s so interesting to know that the Vikings had such an impact on Britain, I had no idea!
    Andrea recently posted..The Cinquecento in Zagreb

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Aug 10, 2012 Reply

      Yes, they really helped to influence and shape our culture and our language. Many words have similarities with Scandinavian languages: for example, in Scotland and Ireland it is common to use the word ‘bairn’ to mean children and the Swedish word is ‘Barn’. I would love to study Scandinavian history in more depth at some point!

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