A Fascinating Discovery
The year was 1934. Archaeologist Bror-Magnus Vifot stepped onto a field in Stora Uppåkra to investigate strange color changes in the field. Little did he know that the modest excavation he carried out at the time, would be the first but far from the last archaeological excavation of what turned out to be one of Northern Europe’s most interesting sites.
With the more extensive excavations and metal detections in the 1990’s, the true nature of Uppåkra’s magnificent past has come clear. Here, people lived for more than 1100 years, and dramatic destinies of life have become known thanks to the archaeological material. is was a place of political and religious power, which is reflected in the remains of the settlement, where, for example, the over 10 meter Ceremonial House clearly marks the great role of religion in Uppåkras history.
Traces of Everyday life
In and around the Ceremonial House there are traces of large residential buildings, so-called hall buildings. For generations, significant families have lived here. Today we find remains of their daily lives, for example, prestigious objects and artifacts which reveal people’s status in ancient society. Some objects travelled a long way to Uppåkra, others were made at the site by skilled craftsmen. The findings give important insight into the everyday life of the people of Uppåkra.
Illu: Mats Vänhem
Glass bowl from the 6th century. High class craftsmanship for its time, probably made in the Black Sea region. Glass was an exclusive ware in Iron Age Scandinavia. There is no proof of local glass production until the 16th century. Actual size: 9.7 cm tall ,16.5 cm wide. Found in the ceremonial house, next to the beaker.
Gilded silver beaker
This beaker fromthe 6th century is likely made in southern Scandinavia. The gold foils with Nordic animal ornamentation indicate advanced local craftsmanship. Actual size: 16.5 cm. Found buried next to the hearth in the ceremonial house.
”The gilded winged man”, or Wayland, was discovered in 2011 next to the hall building. One interpretation is that the man is Wayland, the master smith in Völundskvädet, who escaped his imprisonment by crafting a bird garb. Actual size: 7.4 x 4.5 cm. Made by another master smith around 950 AD.
Thousands of exclusive finds have been made in Uppåkra. This silver figure, nicknamed Helge, can be dated to around 800 AD. Actual size: 4.4 cm wide.
One of many Roman coins that have been found in Uppåkra. Roman coins are relatively common in northern Europe, and may have arrived here by trade or via Germanic soldiers in the service
of Rome. The coins might also have been a part of the tributes, protection money, paid to Germanic tribes in exchange for them not attacking the Roman Empire. This coin depicts Julia Mamaea, minted in 235 AD.
A buckle becomes a Worlds Sensation
When Discovery Channel ran a story on a costume buckle from Uppåkra, it suddenly became a world sensation. The object, which probably depicts a lion, shows a great similarity with one of the most famous mice in popular culture. The originator had probably never seen a lion.
The lion is a Christian symbol for royalty and goodness. Perhaps the one wearing the buckle was one of the first Christians in Uppåkra? It is unknown what ultimately happened to the large Iron Age settlement. Perhaps it was abandoned with the arrival of Christianity and the emergence of the medieval town of Lund.