Iron Age Uppåkra – ca. 100 BC to 1000 AD
At the beginning, the settlement at Uppåkra was rather small-scaled. After some time it grew, and it became a centre of power. That it lasted for over a millennium makes it the dwelling place in Scandinavia with the longest continuity.
The settlement was no doubt an impressive sight in the landscape. Longhouses, workshops, ovens, storehouses, and cattle sheds were spread out over an area of at least 44 hectares (109 acres). Here people met from near and far met to exchange both goods and ideas. The handicraft manifested at this place, as well as the trade goods discovered here, have many times been of fine quality. In the earth of Uppåkra there have been finds from afar, such as coins, jewelry and glass from today’s Europe, but even from present-day Irak and Uzbekistan.
Uppåkra was not just a place for handicrafts and commerce. It was also the power centre for a ruling aristocracy. This is evidenced by an impressive hall, a wooden palace of sorts which is where the rulers of Uppåkra could well have lived. Beside this wooden palace there was an unusual high structure which seemingly was used for special ceremonial purposes. Perhaps this building was inspired by the Romans’ custom of making sacrifices to the gods in a temple, rather than in the wetlands outdoors, as had been done for thousands of years earlier. The first inhabitants here may walked in a procession towards Gullåkra Mosse, only 2 kilometers from the settlement, where sacrificial remains have been found, dating back to the Stone Age.
After the 11th century, it seems that the settlement declined in size and significance. A number of medieval farmsteads, graves, and a possible wooden stave church indicate that Christianity had entered the scene. Yet exactly what happened is still unclear. A possible answer is the founding of Lund, two kilometres north of Uppårka, in about 990. Uppåkra and Lund could have existed simultaneously for a short period, but the new town soon too over Uppåkra’s role as the region’s centre of power.