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Ales stenar - Ale's Stones

Ale's Stones, between the sea and the sky. Photo: Harri Paavolainen

Ale's Stones, between the sea and the sky. Photo: Harri Paavolainen

Welcome to the Kåseberga ridge and Ales stenar. High on the ridge above the quaint fishing village of Kåseberga the enigmatic Ales stenar are to be found. Dramatically positioned with a spectacular view over the Baltic Sea the monument resides between the sky, earth and sea.

Today this fascinating monument consists of 59 raised stone blocks placed in a gigantic ship formation. 67 meters in length and 19 meters wide Ales stenar constitutes Sweden’s largest remaining stone ship. Ship formed stone circles like Ales stenar are usually dated to the Bronze or Iron Age.

Contested ancient monument

The function of Ales stenar as well as it’s dating is much debated. Different theories have over time been pinned against each other. Stone ships are normally interpreted by archeologists as grave monuments or cult centers. Another possible explanation which has been brought forward is that Ales stenar has functioned as a sun calendar. The monument appears to be erected in such a way that the sun during the summer solstice sets at the monuments northwest point and rises at the opposite point during the winter solstice. Whatever the intention originally might have been one must assume that the significance of the monument has been connected to something very central and important in the people’s lives at the time. Archeologists and geophysicists examined the site in 2006 with the help of geo-radar and magnetometer, which makes it possible to see contours of that which is hidden under the surface of the ground in different layers. The examinations showed that Ales stenar is much larger and has a much more complex structure than what is visible above ground today. Under the surface of the ground there are traces from several structures, both a smaller ship formation and one or more round stone circles.

Rich flora and fauna

Even the surrounding nature contains great value. The Kåseberga ridge itself is an unusual formation from the time of the melting of the inland ice. The conservation area “Hammars backar” and the Kåseberga ridge are characterized by great variety in species. The pastures hold a special flora rich in herbs which create preferable conditions for a great number of butterfly species. The landscape with its unusual sand steppe vegetation also provides an unusually rich birdlife.