Gamla Uppsala | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Gamla Uppsala

Stora Lotgarden, Uppsala County, Sweden

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Gamla Uppsala

Gamla Uppsala, also called Uppsala Högar, is a famous ancient burial site in Sweden that includes hundreds of ancient graves, most notably the three large burials known as The Royal Mounds.

Gamla Uppsala history

With its roots stretching far back in time, much of the history of Gamla Uppsala is unclear and mingles into the semi-mythical legends of the earliest kings of Sweden. What is known is that the area was of great religious and political importance during the Iron Age and Viking Age periods. The three Royal Mounds themselves likely date from the 6th century AD.

The Royal Mounds of Gamla Uppsala have been shrouded in mystery for generations. Some believed the three large mounds to be gods Thor, Odin, and Freyr, others thought them to be the burial sites of legendary kings, while some people believed them to be, simply natural lumps of dirt.

Headed by Bror Emil Hildebrand, the first archaeological dig of the Eastern Mound confirmed that it was indeed a burial site, they believed it to be a grave for either a young woman or a young man and a woman. The second excavation in 1874 of the Western Mound yielded more impressive findings of warrior equipment, luxury weaponry, as well as a prominent man dressed in a suit of golden threads.

Though archaeologists were unable to identify the bodies of the mounds, they are quite certain the mounds belonged to a royal dynasty. As Sweden’s oldest national symbols, the Royal Mounds have retained their significance, especially emphasized by a trip from Pope John Paul II in 1989. The three mounds are known today as the Eastern, Middle, and Western Mounds.

Gamla Uppsala today

Today Gamla Uppsala is one of Sweden’s most important ancient sites and is a popular tourist attraction.

The Gamla Uppsala Museum, displays finds from archaeological digs and tales of Yngling dynasty kings, victims of the Viking era, pagan gods and a warring Iron Age. Visitors can follow along on a journey through the oceans of time, from 6th century local heathen kingdoms to the religious upheaval of the Viking era to the building of the cathedral in the 1100s.

The museum also offers a new Virtual Reality experience that allows visitors the chance to roam around 7th century AD Gamla Uppsala.

Getting to Gamla Uppsala

Located 2.5 miles north of Uppsala, the flat and pleasant route makes a nice walk or bike ride. Another option is bus 2 or 210 from Vaksalagatan in Uppsala.

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