Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gamla Uppsala

Okay, so I am a little behind on posting, as several family members have pointed out to me, so I will try to get caught up a bit today (Tonight? It's past midnight)!

Two weeks ago I went with some friends to the older part of town (Gamla Uppsala) where there were supposedly some interesting historical things to see. In particular there was a museum detailing the area's viking history and a very old church built around some viking burial mounds. Given the viking class I took last fall, this trip was particularly interesting for me, although I don't remember everything that I learned in the class. I hope that I don't say anything horribly inaccurate about this place but I will try to make sure not to.

We first went to the museum. There were re-enactors outside dressed in clothing from the vikings' time period(Iron Age) and presumably doing things that vikings do when they are not plundering or fighting. Apparently if you showed up to the museum in garb from the era, you would get in for free!

Inside were exhibits both in Swedish and English detailing the history of the area, the vikings' way of life and beliefs, and several displays of artifacts recovered when the mounds were excavated.

 Decorative axe

Decorative brooches

This was a real comb from one of the mounds!

Real helmet, part of a shield, weapons

I also got my first good look at the mounds themselves:

After we were done looking around inside, we of course went outside to get a better look!
A little bit of history about the mounds: There are 3 main burial mounds and then around 250 smaller ones that were damaged by digging of gravel pits. Not much is known about them. Nobody is 100% sure exactly who is buried inside the mounds. These were not meant to bury many just a select important few; the size of the mound was supposed to reflect how much land the deceased had controlled. . There was an old story passed down orally which said that Aun, Egil and Adils were the three kings buried in the mounds. Recently it has been thought that one of the burial sites (550 AD) was actually that of an important women, judging from the kinds of items she was buried with. It does not appear that the mounds have been excavated since the mid-1800s, and the middle mound (dating from the late 6th century) has yet to be excavated at all.

There was a restaurant that had been there since 1899! We decided to go in and eat. I ended up getting a Belgian waffle with whipped cream and jam!

We also stopped by the old church that had been built there after the area converted to Christianity. Supposedly it was built in the 12th century on top of the pagan temple after it was demolished. The archepiscopal seat was here until the church burned down 100 years later. Because of this, the church is not quite the size it used to be. Since then the archiepiscopal seat was moved to current-day Uppsala in the cathedral mentioned a few posts back.  I was disappointed that we could not go inside- there was a service going on and we didn't want to interrupt. It was also hard to get a good picture of the church.

Here you can see how much of the church was missing due to the fire.

You could still see the cathedral from where we were standing, miles away!

We walked around some more and then took a bus home. Here is what the inside of a Swedish bus looks like!

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