Another gloriously sunny Swedish day and we thought we would try to tick off the last few sites in the Sweden section of the Megalthic European, so with Ellen driving I sat with the big papery Megalthic European open on my knee as we set the satnav for Gladsax.
Following Mr Cope's directions we drove down an increasingly rough track at the side of Rosdala farm while I scanned the edges of the road for the 'large boulder' mentioned in the directions. Looking up I just noticed a glinting in the road, and just had time to shout 'Stop!' as Ellen slammed on the brakes and we came to a halt in a cloud of dust mere centimenters from a thin double length of wire strung across the road fencing off the track.
With frayed nerves we backed up and parked the car whilst I set off across a field to a ridge to scout out if we were anywhere near the elusive site. On reaching the ridgeline I could see the large white boulder which tops the ganggrift glinting tantalisingly in the sun on the other side of a nearby wheatfield.
Not having travelled 1000 miles to be this close to the site I refused to be deterred and taking advantage of the Swedish custom of 'allemansratt' (oh how I love Sweden!) I set off carefully around the edge of the wheatfield careful not to damage any crops.
What looked a short distance in a straight line was a considerably longer walk as I skirted the edge of the field, but finally the field was circumvented and I reached the huge boulder topping the mound.
As I approached the entranceway the first thing I noticed was a clearly defined path leading from the farm up to the ganggrift! So having established there was easy access I followed the path to see where it came out. Ending in a small place for parking, along with an information board I thought I'd go back and fetch Ellen who had stayed in the car so we could spend some time at the site, so after a long circular walk back down the dusty lane past head high corn, which along with the midday heat put me in mindof the American midwest, I finally made it back to the car.
So trying again we now drove to the farm and parked up. Giving us a bit of time to examine the site and take in the atmosphere, and what an atmosphere there is here!
Gladsax (alsoknown as Stenstuan) is currently the oldest confirmed Neolithic site in Sweden, cremated remains and pottery from inside the structure having been carbon dated to around 3,700BCE. A circular kerbed wall of small stones has a mound constructed on top, with a small row of low stones defining an entranceway, and leading to a tiny burial chamber. Topping this off is a huge quartzite boulder. Technically this could be classed as a 'langgraff' or long grave, but the entranceway is so short, and the construction of the monumnent so different to others of that type that it doesn't seem to fit.
There are some excellent carvings on the boulder capstone, some clearly defined as boats, while others more abstract, I went around furiously photographing them, although the high sun made it difficult to pick out the the detail with little shadow to define the carvings, but the pictures seemed to come out OK.
Then a chance to sit down at the site and write my fieldnotes. It is perfectly quiet here, the atmosphere distinctly 'Lammasy' with cornfields dotted around, and a wealth of wildflowers covering the field in which the ganggrift stands, as well as countless butterflies everywhere, we even saw some Large Blue's!
The perfect bucolic setting and preponderance of butterflies adds to the magical fairy mound kind of quality that this place has, the tiny burial mound is too small to squeeze into but if I did I wouldn't have been suprised if hundreds of years had passed by the time I emerged! We felt happy here and reluctant to leave, Gladsax exerting it own pull on us, this really is a place you need to visit as pictures don't do it justice.
Directions: Follow Julian's directions in the Megalithic European as far as Rosdala farm, but instead of taking the suggested track at the side of the farm instead drive down the farm access road past the line of trees and you will see as you approach the farmyard a small information sign ahead of you, along with a small area to park. Just to the right of the sign (it looks as if it gives access to the farmyard) you will see the start of the path leading to the ganggrift, and the site itself will be visible as it's only a short walk. You can also folow the track across the adjacent field which leads staright ahead where you park the car which will lead you to the more ruinous site of Gladsax Norre Vang, which is just across the field on a low ridge, directly to the north of Gladsax Ganggrift.
The Gladsax bonus site! After the trials and tribulations of finding the main Gladsax site we happened upon the handy information board back at Rosadala farm. Helpfully written in English (I love Sweden, why can't all countries be as accessible for megalith hunters!) it indicated that another ganggrift lay about 500 metres nortwest, and had an astonoshing 223 cupmarks on it!
Excited by the thought of another site in such close proximity we set off along a dusty path visible across a field to the north, and handily highlighted by a couple of small flags. Not having any idea of what to expect we scanned the horizon in the blazing sunshine, before spotting something up on a ridge ahead. Shortly the path came to a wire fence which we cautiously approached (electric fences being very popular in these parts!) but helpfully this one has a couple of insulated handles which let you detatch the bungy-rope like wire and allow access to the field.
Up on a low ridge was the unmistakable remains of something meglithic, just to the other side of another dividing fence (this one accessed by a proper gate however). Inside its field Gladsax Norre Vang was within another small fenced enclosure, probably to protect it from use a rubbing post for the inquistive herd of cows which thronged near it. After our encounter with the killer cows at Gardlosa earlier in the week Ellen decided discretion was the better part of valour and so remained in the nearby field while I had a poke about the stones.
A couple of huge capstones covered the tumbledown remains of the passage, which seemed to have been built upon a low mound, with a surrounding kerb of smaller stones, around which about half still remained. Although it lacked the impressive quartzite boulder of its near neighbour, it did have a heavily cupmarked flat capstone. This was the stone with the advertised 223 cupmarks, although many were now eroded and difficult to make out. I started to count them but was aware of the attentions of my bovine onlookers who seemed to be straining to see what I found so interesting about the site, so eventually I admitted defeat and after trying to take some photos without getting a load of cows in shot I decamped back to the next field with Ellen to write up the fieldnotes.
Gladsax Norre Vang seems to share a similar construction to its neighbour, and I imagine would probably date from around the same time, although I haven't been able to find out any further information on the site, from its slightly raised position it is also possible to see the white gleam of the Gladsax Ganggrift capstone boulder 500 metres away, so perhaps this whole area was once dotted with funary monuments. Whatever the case was this was an unexpected joy, the two sites set in beautiful farmland on a glorious summers day, and if you ever get the chance to Gladsax then do, and don't neglect to make the short walk to this site as well because it's definitely worth it!