Thursday, 13 September 2018

Ales Stenar, the Stones of Ale - a Viking memorial in Skåne, southern Sweden

This is probably the most fascinating and enigmatic pre-historic monument of Scandinavia. There, writing only started by the year 1000 under Christian culture. Without that skill, limited to runic stone carvings, Vikings left few testimonies of their era; that's why this is a preciously rare heritage, dated from about 600 DC.

The ship form Alignment stands on the green covered flat top of a high cliff.

Ales Stones (Stenar)
Scania, Sweden

Coordinates: 55° 23′ N, 14° 03′ W

It looks like a funereal vessel made of 59 obeliscs standing beteween the sky and the sea, in a pasturage on top of a steep cliff near the small fishing port of Kåseberga. Ystad is the closest town. Built by whom, why ? or what for?

The answer seems to be: quite probably a burial monument, maybe over an earthed grave, and dedicated to some Viking captain capsized with his ship and crew at this Baltic Sea coast; but some think otherwise: an astrononomical purpose (like Stonehenge), for the sun is perfectely aligned with the two extreme stones ('bow' and 'stern') at both solstices.

Datation is well established, between 500 and 1000 AC, during the late nordic Iron Age. But archeologists discovered that the stones stand on a much older funereal camera from ca. 5500 years ago. Maybe the alignment in the form of a ship's keel meant the transport of the underlying deceased to their eternal abode? But here, so far away from Caronte's bark ????...

Most of the megalyths are made of granite, except two of local sandstone and one of quartzite; those are probably not original, but later apports or substitutions. We can scarcely imagine how tons of boulders were lifted and dragged up the fields, up a steep slope, and finally aligned carefully and accurately with the celestial stars.

Why 'Ale' ?

The monument was known as Heds Stenar (Heesteena) in the 18th century ( and currentlu now by the locals), and there is a mention of Stene by the 17th century. The origin of the name is unknown.

The Swedish writer and film director Hasse Alfredson supported the hypothesis of Ales Stenar's astronomical purpose in 1970. With a simple compass he verified that the central line, main axes of symmetry of the 'ship', pointed to the sun at the solstices: in Summer, the setting Sun was aligned with the bow, in Winter with the stern.

Göran Lind, teacher at Lund University, declared in 1975 he had confirmed Alfredson ideas with more sophisticated equipment. Since then, several articles, some more esoteric than others, speculate about the geometric and cosmologic coincidences without full scientific evidence.

History's best treasures are frequently the ones we don't fully understand.