Kiviksgraven - expressive rock carvings under rock of stone »Österlen
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Kiviksgraven - expressive rock carvings under mountains of stone

Linnaeus has been here. Thousands of visitors follow the walk to its center every year. It is known as Kiviksgraven, formerly Kungagraven, but for hundreds of years the place was called Bredarör - the broad stone cairn. And no one knows who over 3.000 years ago was buried at the bottom of the tomb.

Lyrics: Caroline Alesmark | Photo: Peter Carlsson

Kiviksgraven a little neighbor from above
Kiviksgraven a little neighbor from above.

One summer day in 1748, two peasants broke stones in Bredarör in Kivik, perhaps to their courtyards or log walls, and happened to be hacked straight into a casket, built of stone pellets, under all layers of stone tumblers. These two, Anders Sahlberg and Lasse Persson thought they had been on a treasure and dug all night, though without finding anything.
The rumor spread quickly in the countryside, but instead of honor and wealth, the intermezzo ended with them being interrogated, accused of having hidden the treasure, and for a few months subjected to discipline at Kristianstad Fortress. However, after a trial, they were released on June 8, 1749.

Already the year after the excavation, on May 31, 1749, Carl von Linné and his secretary Olof Söderberg passed the site. The grave was called the "Penninge tomb" and Linné writes: "Here was a tomb set up for the old world". 

But no higher instance intervened, the quarrying continued in the void, and three of the pourers disappeared. During the 1700th century the grave was both neglected and destroyed. Among other things, a hob learns from here to be used as a building block in a spiral boiler in Mälby - today it is back.

It was not until several years later when the rock carvings themselves were discovered that the outside world began to show historical interest in the tomb. Professor Nils Henrik Sjöborg at Lund University was involved in a restoration of the tomb and the site was cleared in 1814.
Over a hundred years later, when the mill in Äsperöds was demolished, the remains of another heap appeared - it had been used as a foundation for a millstone. The mill was built sometime between 1791 and 1798 and that is when the hob is believed to have been removed from the tomb.

In 1931-33 a comprehensive survey of the Kiviksgraven was carried out. Among other things, the archaeologists found traces of a stone-age settlement under the rubble. In connection with this, the voice and the grave were rebuilt, then the angled corridor which through an iron gate leads into the burial chamber was also built.  

The entrance to the Kiviksgraven
The entrance to the Kiviksgraven

Today's edition of the Kiviksgraven was restored in 1932-33 and was built to its original outer dimensions, 75 meters in diameter. How high it was originally is just a guess, it may have been both higher and lower.
The twisted hallway leading into the room with the burial pits was not in the ancient tomb. Neither is the magnificent stone portal or the room itself, all this is built to give visitors an opportunity to look at the stoves. 

Inside the tomb the stoves are tilted in the form of a coffin, illuminated by discreet lamps. Researchers have tried to interpret the images over the years. The eight stoves show axes, ships, four-legged animals, circles filled with crosses - wheel crosses, wagons, people and wind instruments. Something seems to happen, like the characters in the series box, people move across the pictures.

Inside the Kiviksgrave, the stoves are tilted
Inside the Kiviksgrave, the stoves are tilted.

In Hans Alfredson's and Tage Danielsson's 1971 film "The Apple War", the story's young kind-hearted hero, played by Per Waldvik, fights against a mighty dragon who comes screaming right out of the Kiviksgraven. However, the dragon was a peaceful iguana and the tomb a model made of papier mâché.

The Kiviksgrave raises more questions than it gives answers and the interpretations are many. Recent archaeological research shows that several teenagers are buried at the site. New research findings indicate that Kivik may have been an important trading site as early as the Bronze Age and that copper and amber transactions may have to do with the grave. 

Leaning over the rocks, the imagination runs away easily. Who or who was buried under all the stones, why did he, she or they get such a huge burial ground? What are all the figures on the stoves, how did the instruments sound in them? What kind of dance do they move in? Is it a sacrificial procession, an invocation of the gods, a burial ritual?


Kiviksgraven south of Kivik, right next to Skåneleden. To get here, hike on the Skåneleden SL4 Österlenleden, stage 5 between Simrishamn and Kivik. The SL4-5 stage is 21 kilometers long but it is also possible to start in, for example, Vik. The hiking route goes along the coast past ancient fishing villages, harbors and beaches. A campsite with wind protection can be found at Tjörnedalagården in Baskemölla.

Click here to buy the book "Magical forest and river dance - hike to enigmatic places"


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