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Tanum World Heritage

These magnificent pictures, some carved 3000 years ago, bear a unique testimony to the Bronze Age world. Not only do they make vivid this lost and distant time to us, but these powerful images also have the ability to speak directly to the modern onlooker.

The rock carvings in Tanum were added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994. The area covers about 45 km² of the central part of the parish of Tanum. 
The World Heritage Committee expressed its motivation for the decision as follows: 
"The rock carvings of the Tanum region constitute an outstanding example of Bronze Age art of the highest quality. The range of motifs provides exceptional evidence of many aspects of life in the European Bronze Age. The continuity of settlement and consistency in land use in Tanum, as illustrated by the rock art, the archaeological remains, and the features of the modern landscape in the Tanum region, combine to make this a remarkable example of continuity over eight millennia of human history."

These magnificent pictures, some carved 3000 years ago, bear a unique testimony to the Bronze Age world. Not only do they make vivid this lost and distant time to us, but these powerful images also have the ability to speak directly to the modern onlooker. Their subject matters remain unwaveringly pertinent to our human existence, affording us, perhaps, a new language with which to consider the eternal questions of life and death.

Vitlycke museum

300 m from Vitlycke carving is Vitlycke museum where you can get more information about other rock carvings in the area, visit the exhibition - Images - Bronzes - Stories. You can also visit the Bronze Age farm to see how people lived 3,000 years ago.
During the summer season there is a wide range of activities at the museum that you can participate in. For example, guiding at Vitlycke rock carving 3 times / day, ancient crafts in the Bronze Age farm etc.

Vitlycke Rock Carvings

The rock carvings at Vitlycke are among the best known in Sweden, and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world every year. People began making the carvings here in the late Bronze Age, about 1800 B.C. Over the following centuries, people returned to create new carvings on this religious site, and the last carvings were made just before the birth of Christ.
The best known of the pictures is that of the bridal couple in the upper part of the rock face. The scene depicts the holy wedding, or an intercourse between the god of fertility and a woman, and its purpose is to safeguard fertility for man and animals. This ritual was probably carried out every year around 1st May, with cult priests and priestesses replacing the gods.

Altogheter there are close to 500 figures on the panel. The most predominant are figures of ships, which were perhaps a symbol of the journey to the kingdom of death, or even a symbol of power- since the ships carried the imported bronze artifacts that gave status and prestige to the chieftans and their families.

By following the marked paths, you can reach a number of smaller carved rock faces that are painted and signboarded. One of the paths leads up to the summit were you will find two huge Bronze Age cairns, and from were there is a fine view over the Tanum plain.
Please do not walk on the carvings. The rock is badly damaged by erosion and is very fragile.

 

Aspeberget Rock Carvings

Aspebeget, 800 m from Vitlycke museum, truly deserves the name of holy rock. At diffrent places on the rock, wich is not especially large, there are no less than a score or so carved rock faces. Three of the largest are painted, and even more are signboarded. Some of the carvings, severely eroded, have been covered over to preserve them.

The carvings are dominated by deeply cut bulls. In the upper part there is a scene that has been interpreted as a sun disc held up by two women. 
This particular panel is badly eroded and is very delicate, which is why it is kept covered over for most of the year. It is uncovered for a period during the summer to allow visitors sight of this magnificent carving.

A pathway traverses the rock leading to the signboarded carvings. Some of them are painted, but you will have to look for most of the others. 

Please do not walk on the carvings. The rock is badly damaged by erosion and is very fragile.

Litsleby Rock Carvings

2 km from Vitlycke museum you can see these large pictorial carvings are also known as the Spear God´s rock face, and you will understand why when you see it. The carvings are dominated by a huge man figure carrying a spear, and this is probably the largest carved figur of a person in Europe. He is likely to be the forerunner to the Asa God Odin, the God of War, whose attribute was a spear.
Most of the carvings date from the end of Broze Age to the beginning of the Iron Age, from about 700 B.C. up intil the birth of Christ.
A path goes from the Litsleby panel up into the forest. By following the path you come to other well known carvings that represent a group of horsemen. The scenario was probably carved at one and the same time. The rectangular shields carried by the horsemen indicates that the carvings was made in the late Iron Age, probably between 400-100B.C. The carvings are signboarded and painted.
The carvings at Litsleby have been equipped with a ramp that makes it possible for anyone in a wheelchair to get a closer view of them. The ramp also makes it easier to take photographs without the need to walk on the carvings.
Please do not walk on the carvings. The rock is badly damaged by erosion and is very fragile.

Fossum Rock Carvings,

The rock carvings at Fossum, 4 km from Vitlycke museum, are some of Tanum´s most striking. The closely connected composition and similarity in cutting style are indication that the majority of the carvings were carried out by one and the same person. Many of these scenes and happenings are framed by a number of look alike ships. It is most probable that what we see is a whole story in pictures, with glimpses of a world of gods and goddesses. Myths that were told are pictured here, and we optain a fascinating insight into the mythology and world appreciation of the Broze Age people

The Fossum carvings are fine examples of scenic representation in that the scenes are interconnected and tells a story. This is a characterstic of many of the carvings in Tanum and was contributory to their inclusion in the World Heritage List.

About 100 m to the east of the Fossum panel are further large carvings. They are not painted, but are signboarded. The carvings have a deep cut and are quite distinct. Possibly the most prominent feature of this face is in the picture of a horse pulling the sun. The conception that the sun was pulled by a horse were widespread through out Europe during the Broze Age. Sometimes in Scandinavia the horse was replaced by a ship.
Please do not walk on the carvings. The rock is badly damaged by erosion and is very fragile.

Directions

Tanum World Heritage has 2 visitcenter.

Vitlycke museum at Vitlycke panel
Vitlycke 2
457 93 Tanumshede
Sweden
tel+46 525 209 50
E post: vitlycke.museum@vgregion.se
www.vitlyckemuseum.se

Tanums Hällristningsmuseum 
1 km est from Fossumhällen
Underslös
45791 Tanumshede
Sweden 
Tel: +46 525-29555
Epost: adorant@bigfoot.com
Hemsida: www.RockArtScandinavia.se

Vitlycke Museum is located 1.5 hours north of Gothenburg and 2 hours south of Oslo.

From the E6 exit at Tanumshede and follow the signs to Vitlycke Museum. (about 3 km from the E6)

Contact information

Vitlycke 2

45793 Tanumshede


Phone: +46 010 441 43 10


E-mail: Send e-mail

Website: vitlyckemuseum.se