Ales Stenar – Ystad, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

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Ales Stenar

Ystad, Sweden

According to legend, this boat-shaped henge is built over the grave of a mythic king. 


Sitting like a crown, atop a flat bluff in Skåne, Sweden are the Ales Stenar, an ancient formation of standing stones erected in the shape of a boat. No one is sure quite why the stone design was created but according to legend is is the resting place of a mythic king.

The Ales Stenar (Ales Stones) were placed on their Swedish cliff just 1,400 years ago, although they stand over a burial site that has been dated to 5,500 years old. There are 59 tall boulders in the formation which is made in the shape of a longship, and was possibly symbolic of a craft that would ferry the dead to their eternal fate. Beneath the boat-stones researchers have discovered the remains of an even more ancient burial chamber, sans human remains, confirming their theories as to the funerary purpose behind the ship formation, yet just who was to be buried there remains a mystery.  

Legend has it that King Ale the Strong, a figure from Swedish myth, is buried under the henge, although there does not seem to be a great deal on the site to confirm this. More likely is that a lesser-known viking chieftain was buried, or meant to be buried in the spot and the stones were erected to honor his eternal memory.

Whoever the Ales Stenar were originally meant to honor, they stand now as an impressive and beautiful site that make it easy to see why someone would want to be buried there.      

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