Bronze age grafitti left on rocks, a message from an ancient time

Sometimes a visit to a place can be much more than you expect. Sometimes even rain, wind and autumny weather can’t stop you from exploring more, once you find a treasure. So it was this time when weanum to see ancient rock carvings and go home. We didn’t expect to spend more than one hour in this place. We thought that some rock carvings can’t be that interesting. How wrong can you be.


Field in the middle of nowhere, is there anything to see?

world heritage

World Heritage sign at the entrance to the museum


Model of an ancient boat in the museum

The rock carvings of Tanum are over 400 groups of Bronze Age carvings located in an area of about 45 km². They were carved into the rocks between ca. 1700-500 BC at what at that time was the sea shore. The carvings are included in the World Heritage List because of their unique artistic quality, the depiction of aspects of life in the European Bronze Age and the continuity of local rural life they represent.


Information about carvings at Vitlycke


Carvings of boats and people, the red lines are filled in in our times to mark the carvings better


Two men on a boat

The motifs include humans, weapons, boats, fishing nets, the sun, bulls, horses, deer, birds and other scenes of daily life. The site at Litsleby includes a human figure over 2 meters tall carrying a spear. This probably is the largest petroglyph of a person in Europe. The figure has been interpreted as the God of War Odin.


More carvings


A nice boat from ancient times

We decided to spend a weekend at Swedish West Coast. It was mainly Gothenburg, but since the weather wasn’t too good, we decided to take a trip to Tanum, about two hours north. The bus back would go one hour later and that would give us plenty of time to see the carvings and go back. How wrong can you be.


Ancient stick figures

stone pile

Stone piles, ancient graves

We visited the museum shop at first, realizing how profesionally and neat it was organized. Then we walked to the first carvings, following a very well marked and described world heritage trail. We came to the first carvings and were amazed. They were beautiful. Childish, simple, innocent and at the same time very bold and mature. Both male and female figures with very well marked sex. Thr male figures with large thingy, on boats, on land, with women, with animals, with each other. One was chased by a snirkling snake, other with big shields. There were boats, sun symbols, scenes from every day life.


Information sign about Aspeberget’s carvings

more carvings

More beautiful carvings, why where they made?

sun symbol

Carving of sun symbol

The pictues looked almost like ancient time graffitti, painted by someone who had no TV and too much time. But how great window to peak back at ancient times. What a great peaxe of history that is left for us to see. How much will be left of us in 3000 years?


A man with a shield


An ancient man, carved in a rock


A carving of a boat

After seeing the first carvings we climbed up the hill to see huge rock piles – ancient graves. The view from the top was stunning. I wonder how the area looked in ancient times when there was sea here.

unesco flag

Unesco flag outside the museum


Vitlycke museum flag

From this first Vitlycke carvings area we went on to a second one, about 700 meters away. The area is called Aspebergets and had even more beautiful carving of peopplpe, ships, sun symbols. This area is endangered, since the rocks with the carving are beeing destroyed by wind and rain. We’re happy to have seen them.


A UNESCO certificate

Next stop was back at the Vitlycke museum, where we had hot chocolate and walked throught the museum. It was great organized, professionally made, informative and educational without being childish. I’m very impressed by the museum as well.
Our bus was long gone. The next transport was another bus from another town about 2,5 km away and then train. We thought that it was 2 km, but since it was more we almost missed the bus. Or made it just in time. Why have margins?

The rock carvings in Tanum became world heritage in 1994.Link to the site: Tanum.

How about my grade? Five out of five globes, this place makes you happy.



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3 thoughts on “Bronze age grafitti left on rocks, a message from an ancient time

  1. […] Bronze age grafitti left on rocks, a message from an ancient time. […]

  2. Sometimes the most unexpected things are the most interesting, while the well-known sights turn out to be not as great as anticipated.

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