Notes from the Field: Swedish Gravestones & Being Hemmablind

article-imageLi Bravfält, Fjärås Bräcka - Ancient Swedish cemetery (all photographs by the author)

Recently while traveling in Gothenburg, Sweden, I learned a word that I think is incredibly relevant to why many of us participate in Atlas Obscura. This Swedish word is hemmablind, which literally means “home-blind,” and refers to that universal human truth that one never appreciates the things in one’s own back yard. 

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It is this home-blindness that Atlas Obscura is here to combat. There is a special thrill in seeing through that home-blindness and discovering something amazing in the city you live in.  During my time in Gothenburg I was able to introduce my friends to a place they never had heard about — a field of Iron Age standing stones in Li, a small neighborhood in Fjärås Bräcka, Halland, Sweden. This site is about half an hour south of Gothenburg by car.

The place is called Li Gravfält, which means “Li graveyard”, and is thought to be a burial yard for iron age Vikings. I have not been able to find any English language archaeological reports to prove or disprove this theory, so I will choose to believe it since it’s such an entertaining story.

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My friends there have lived Gothenburg for many years and pride themselves on knowing the local area for this sort of thing. None of them have heard of Li, or these stones. We all agreed it was amusing, but not surprising, that the Californian tourist found these stones since I was not afflicted by “hemmablind” for Gothenburg. One local was so interested in the discovery of these stones that he decided to drive me out to explore and see them. 

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This big boy (on the right) is known as “Kung Frodes sten” (“King Frode’s Stone”), and stands in at over 15 feet tall. I have to wonder how deep these stones descend into the ground to allow them to stand so high. 

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Much to my disappointment, I didn’t see any runes carved into these stones. This one on the left was the only one I could find with any carvings, and it looks suspiciously like the modern letters “B S,” presumably someone’s initials. 

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Prehistoric sites are a joy to discover, especially if the site is not very well known. The fact that my local guide was also interested in seeing the stones was pleasant to learn, and I can imagine him taking his two children to visit there at some point in the future.

Sharing that joy of seeing through hemmablind is another great joy in life. 

GO EXPLORE:

LI GRAVE STONES, Fjaras Bracka, Sweden


One of the most important things to us here at the Atlas is to always keep traveling and discovering. Notes from the Field are first person reports from the most inspiring trips taken by the Atlas Obscura Team. Read more Notes from the Field Here>