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A Canadian expatriate living and exploring first France now Germany, then BACK to FRANCE (!!!) with her family; former fashion designer, turned unexpected UNLIKELY NOMAD, raising two children, writing, photographing, painting, playing piano (who knew!!) and blogging - and now... full time student at ART SCHOOL!! (I MUST be crazy!!)

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Today we continued to wind our way northward along the east coast of Sweden almost to the Norwegian border to a small seaside community called Tanumshede, famous for it‘s proliferation of prehistoric 3000-5000 year old rock carvings. Even at these northern latitudes we found the weather, though a little wet and volatile, to be astonishingly warm with temperatures in the mid to low 20’s. The landscape and vegetation remind us very much of our own Canadian shield except with more dramatic variations in elevation, and since every one speaks almost flawless English, we are feeling quite at home.

As the GPS guided us expertly around bays, inlets and small fishing villages that characterize this coastal area, we chattered about what more exciting things we might discover on our days journey. We have enjoyed immensely the exploration we have done so far and have been fascinated to learn about Viking history and legend and are very excited to explore further.

Today sure was our lucky day.

The archaeological guide greeted us at the Vitlyke museum in Tanumshede with a blue-bristled long-handled broom and a slim black tube. Our group sped after him in his museum-mobile in a 4 car convoy across farmers fields, down little country lanes and then stopped abruptly in the middle of the brush. We all piled out and followed him on foot around several corners before entering a heavily carpeted evergreen forest, lush with ferns and fragrant with rich decay of centuries of fallen pine needles.

As we forged a path over the carpeted forest floor and through the light underbrush the guide began to explain that the Tanum plain is well known for it’s prolific Viking and bronze age burial sites that dot the country side as well as the 1000’s of bronze age rock carvings. Dial Viking civilization from 500-1500 AD back, around a 1000 years to be more precise, to 300-1800 BC you have early Scandinavian culture of the Bronze Age, where weavers, farmers, shepherds, fishermen and goatherds who lived a remarkably sophisticated lifestyle populated the area. At the time of the Bronze Age, the sea was 50 feet higher than it is today, so any rock carvings lie at least that high above the current sea level…

We began to climb.

We threaded our way along a ridge and began to descend through the forest and by two large mounds, burial mounds we were told, easily distinguished as being distinctly different than the surrounding topography.

We reached an open plateau with large expanses of granite smoothed by migrating glaciers. The guide set down the slim black tube and after locating areas where runoff water greased the rock he began to sweep away the debris from the trees above.

Slowly from underneath the grime of the decaying pine needles figures began to take shape, etched in the stone.

Warriors dancing with spears, children playing ball, multitudes of boats of varying sizes, animals, figures in mating rituals, men in chariots.

We were all completely spellbound.

Then he produced a large sheet of paper from his slim black tube and proceeded to position it over some of the more striking images and after securing it in place with some tape, he began to skim the surface with a sheet of carbon paper wrapped over the flat of his hand.
This is what happened next…

The figures began to appear on the rubbing with amazing clarity as the carbon focused their outlines. They changed from soft grey shapes hiding under the veil of granite to the dancing and menacing figures they were intended to be, performing their 3000 year old ceremonies on the paper right in front of us. The spell deepened, then he invited Riel to continue with the rubbing;

Riel reverently accepted the task.

As he continued the rubbing more figures began to appear and solidify, as if by magic, and the guide began to tell us stories about the figures and to describe to us the scene beside the rocks where we were, life, celebration, worship and death, to fill in the fuzzy details with gently lapping seawater replacing the coniferous forest in the valley in front if us, as far as we could see.

As he fixed the carbon on the rubbing with grass, it all became clear to us, the buzz of the conversations, the chink and sweep of the stone carvers as they worked in the watershed, the ceremonies, the hunts, the games and the mourning…

Life and death 3000 years ago…



sarah said...

That is really cool!
I am loving your trip so far.

Anonymous said...

Schwartzenegger insists the victims of the 2007 Southern California firestorm residing at Jack Murphy Stadium are happy.
First he calls Tonight Show host Jay Leno an "idiot". Then he drops this bomb.
If it were Gray Davis the gods would have their media attack him mercilessly for these mistakes. Together they may be enough to cost any other politician his career. But not Arnold Schwartzenegger.
They say he says makes suspect comments all the time, and they are all buried. And it is because they have BIG plans for him::::He is a tool who will be used to accomplish historical evil for the gods.

They say there is a sense of "unease" at the State Capital, like he doesn't belong there. It is because he doesn't. He is not American. Sadly this is an issue that is too readily discounted:::
He is not from the United States. His loyalties lie with a country that was the enemy of the United States a mere 65 years ago.
Just as we witnessed with Clinton in 1992 expect blacks to register and vote en masse for Schwartzenegger as well, a clue and a red flag.

Just as we haven't seen any more of that "Everybody is happy." idiocy from the Preditor so do we no longer hear anything of the possibility a firefighter started one if not more of these SoCal fires, buried forever.
Weight training, promotion of pharmeceuticals, desensitizing "guy flicks" all prove the name "Preditor" is warranted.

What we have been up to...