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The Stone ship was a Germanic burial custom, typical of Scandinavia, built from tightly or loosely fit slabs or stones. Sometimes they are of monumental proportions. In Sweden, the size varies from 67 metres (Ale's Stones) to only a few metres. The orientation varies. Inside, they can be cobbled or filled with stones, or have raised stones in the positions of masts. The illusion of being ships has often been reinforced by larger stones in the ends. Some have an oblique aft. Ship settings are often found on grave fields, but sometimes far from any other archaeological remains.
Scattered examples are found in Northern Germany and along the coast of the Baltic States (where they are called devil ships). They are believed to have represented the actual burning ship in which the dead was sent out to the sea. Excavations have shown that they are usually from the latter part of the Nordic Bronze Age ca. 1000 BC - 500 BC (e.g. Gotland) or from the Germanic Iron Age, the Vendel Age and the Viking Age (e.g. Blekinge and Scania).
Prominent stone shipsEdit
- Ale's Stones is a stone ship in southernmost Sweden. It is 67 metres long and 19 metres wide.
- Stones of Askeberga Image and more images is Sweden's second largest stone ship measuring 55 metres in length. It is, however, the most remarkable one as it is made of 24 enormous boulders, weighing about 25 tonnes each.
- Anund's Mound (Image) The double stone ship at Anund's mound has a total length of 100 metres and one of the ships is 25 metres wide. In the same area there are several smaller stone ships.
- Bække, Denmark. 25 km. south for Bække is their found 45 meter long ship. Dating from the Viking area.
- Gettlinge gravfalt, Öland, Sweden (Environmental Baseline Study, Oland, Sweden, Öland, Sweden, July, 2004)
- Hulterstad gravfalt, Öland, Sweden includes a total of 170 burial locations.
- Kerteminde fjord, Denmark, a ship of 20 meter, dating from the Viking area.
- Lejre, Denmark. A ca. 80 meter ship of 27 stones. The ship got bursted away in 1921 by a landowner, but some local history interested people succeeded to save the stones. Dating back from the Viking area.
- Lindholm Høje near Aalborg, Denmark
- Stones of Blomsholm The stone ship at Blomsholm near Strömstad in Bohuslän measures more than 40 m in length and consists of 49 large menhirs. The fore and the aft are about 4 meters tall. There are several other large megaliths in the area.
- Thyra's burial mound. Around the burial mound of queen Thyra in Jelling, Denmark, is there found a giant stone ship with a length of 354 meter. This is by far the larges stone ship ever found and dating back from the Viking area.
- Tjelvar's Grave (Image) is according to legend the grave of Gotland's mythical discoverer Thjelvar, and it is dated to ca 750 BC.
- Altes Lager Menzlin near Anklam, Western Pomerania, Germany. The stone ships date back to the 9th century.
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