When you ask most Gothenburgers if they know where the nearest prehistoric rock art is, they would probably point to the famous carvings at Tanum, over 80 miles to the north. But in fact Sweden’s southernmost rock painting actually lies right outside of the city of Gothenburg.
The Tumlehed rock paintings are quite spectacular, and it’s fascinating that many locals don’t even know about this ancient gem. Lying on a steep cliff face in a forested area on the island of Hisingen, the archaeological site wasn’t discovered until 1974. The red-painted pictographs depict four ships, four fish, a deer, waves, and some unknown shapes—presumably scenes from the hunter-gatherer-fisher culture on the Scandinavian coast.
Archaeologists estimate the paintings were made during the Mesolithic Age, or late Stone Age, around 3,000 to 7,000 years ago, based partly on the subject matter and partly on their location. The sea level has sunk a bit since the images were painted; at the time, the rock would have been right next to the shore.
Know Before You Go
The archaeological site is located in the village of Tumlehed within the greater Gothenburg area. There is parking and an information board at the site, and from there it's a short hike out to the rock paintings.
The information board is on the site, not at the parking lot. You‘ll need to climb up some steep rocks behind the first bench at the beginning of the forest. It seems some steps have been hand made, and once upon a time there was a rope, but it’s no longer there. Once at the top you‘ll see the paintings and the information board next to them.