Rock Carvings in Tanum, Sweden

The rock carvings in Tanum, in the north of Bohuslän, are a unique artistic achievement not only for their rich and varied motifs (depictions of humans and animals, weapons, boats and other subjects) but also for their cultural and chronological unity. They reveal the life and beliefs of people in Europe during the Bronze Age and are remarkable for their large numbers and outstanding quality.

Northern Bohuslän is a land of granite bedrock, parts of which were scraped clean about 14,000 years ago as the Scandinavian Ice Sheet slowly moved northward, leaving gently curved rock faces exposed. These were the “canvases” selected by Bronze Age artists.

There are at least 1,500 known rock carving sites in northern Bohuslän concentrated in certain areas, including the parish of Tanum.

The carvings were executed by pecking and grinding the rock using stone hammers and points. The panels of rock art, skillfully created with simple tools, show a rich diversity of compositions of the highest quality, even when regarded simply as works of art or design.

Photo: Hand Painted Skirt Design

Compared to other similar contexts, these motifs and scenes are even more outstanding in their ability to convey reflections of life and cosmology during the Nordic Bronze Age (c. 1700 BC – 500 BC).

It is obvious that the intention of these panels, which are often situated in commanding positions in the landscape, is to convey messages, thereby confirming their role as primary contemporary centres for worship and cult.

The Rock Carvings in Tanum represent a unique artistic achievement through their skilful and detailed depictions of animals, humans, ships, weapons, and symbols of the Bronze Age. These sometimes include lively scenes and complex compositions of elaborate motifs from travel, status, power, warfare, and cult. Some panels, or rather parts of them, were obviously planned in advance. Probably the most evident example of this is the panel at Fossum. In many cases, these motifs, techniques, and compositions create an exceptional testimony to the culture of the European Bronze Age.
Tekst borrowed from the Unesco Official Site. For more info please follow the LINK.

Video Introduction: Rock Carvings in Tanum – UNESCO World Heritage Site