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Late Stone Age


This period of our Nordic past spreads over about 4.000 BC until about 1.800 BC.
Agriculture was far more common and the settlements more per

This period in our Nordic past covers 4.000 BC until 1.800 BC.
It is characteristic that agriculture spread and the population thus became more settled than before. This also changed the way people lived together. The tools, the flint axes, changed and new ways of storage became necessary, for example pottery. Instead of a population, which mainly lived off hunting and fishing, it was now the crops from the increasing agriculture, which became principal basis of existence. This is also why the period is called The Peasant Stone Age.
The Peasant Stone Age is normally divided into three periods referred to by the archaeologists as:

The Megalith Graves
The burial customs of the period means that there are still distinct traces in the cultural landscape of the Sound region after these early and enterprising peasants in the form of large stone graves. The so-called dolmen and passage graves. They are commonly called megaliths
In current Denmark we know about 6000 dolmen and 700 passage graves, but it is often only remnants, which can be seen.
Calculations estimate that there have been 20-25.000 of these megaliths in the period 3.500-3.200 BC. (See Odense Museum) A very interesting social historical phenomenon.
Traditionally the dolmens are dated the Eolithic period and the passage graves to the Paleolithic period, but the two megaliths are inextricably linked.
The large stone graves were for several hundred years used as single graves (chieftains?) and later as the common burial ground for the local area.

Long Mounds
A special type of graves, the so-called ”long mounds” was a kind of forerunner for the dolmens. They have been dated to the oldest part of the Peasant Stone Age – i.e. the part, which is referred to as Eolithic.
The long mounds can seem very impressive even though the height often is a few metres. The width is less than 10 metres, but the length can be considerable. The long mounds are the first known monumental graves from the past above the soil.
Unlike the later long dolmens the burial chamber itself is not built of stone, but of wood. What characterizes a long mound from outside is that the oblong, rectangular grave area has a border marking made of upright stones.
An example of such a long mound is the so-called ”Jättegrav” by Trelleborg in Scania. Here are about 60 stones left around the grave area, but in the Stone Age there have been more than twice as many. The grave is only about 5 metres wide, but on the other hand all of 64 metres long. This makes it the largest of its kind in Sweden.

Round Dolmens and Long Dolmens
Dolmens are stone chamber graves, where large stone blocks are placed on supporting stones. Among the dolmens we distinguish – according to shape - between round dolmens and long dolmens. The spaces between the large stones have been filled out with smaller stones on top of each other.
Nowadays we often see dolmens, which are completely free-standing. It was not like that in the past. At that time these grave chambers were almost hidden under a layer of earth.
The Skegri dolmen
The Skegri dolmen
The Gantofte dolmen
The Gantofte dolmen
Dolmen from Höör in Scania
Dolmen from Höör in Scania
Dolmen at Klosterris in North Zealand
Dolmen at Klosterris in North Zealand

Long Dolmens
Nowadays we often see dolmens, which are completely free-standing. It was not like that in the past. At that time these grave chambers were almost hidden under a layer of earth.
Often the edges of the mound formed a square platform marked with border stones. The remnants of a long dolmen has been excavated in Fosie outside Malmø. It was reconstructed in Scania´s Animal Park close to Höör in the middle Of Scania.
Long Barrows
Often the edges of the hill formed a square platform marked with border stones. The remains of a long barrow have been excavated in Fosie outside Malmø. In the 1980´s it was reconstructed in Scania´s Animal Park close to Höör in the middle of Scania.
In North Zealand, at Trollesminde close to Hillerød, one of Denmark´s biggest long barrows: ”Rokkestenen” was found in 1855. The long barrow is 40 metres long and 25 metres wide and consists of a coffin shaped burial chamber, which is encircled by a number of border stones – some of the to metres in height. The roof of the pang barrow, the cover stone measures two times three metres and weighs approximately 12-14 tons.
During the excavation of the enormous cover stone they discovered that the stone could be rocked to and fro. Hence the name ”Rokkestenen”.
Hillerød Municipality has in collaboration with the National Museum cleared the area around the relic in 2007, so we are able to enjoy the sight in the field between Peder Oxes Allé and the motorway.
Long barrow at Hillerød
Long barrow at Hillerød

Passage Graves
The passage grave is a rectangular or oval grave chamber, which was often used as a collective burial place. They have been built inside a relatively short period of time and belong to the Paleolithic period about 3.200 BC.
The passage graves are an architectural further development of the dolmens in the way that the grave chamber itself – sometimes there are two - is rather big and has several cover stones. In order to enter the grave chamber one must go through a 4-6 metres long and narrow corridor.
On the Scanian side of the Sound there are two well preserved passage graves, one at Barsebäck, and one at Ålabodarna. You can crawl into both of these Stone Age graves. Remember to bring a flashlight!
On the Danish side of the Sound there is a well preserved passage grave in Roskilde, with admittance all year round. And in the woods and fields in Elsinore municipality there are many more or less well-preserved traces after dolmens as well as passages graves.
The Passage Grave in Gillhög
The Passage Grave in Gillhög

Flint Axes
The flint axe is a tool, which is connected to the Peasant Stone Age. It took strong axes to cut down the big trees, first and foremost hardwood, which formed large and dense woods in the landscape 3.000 years BC.
The Core Axes
They knew flint axes well in the hunters´ Stone Age, but they were light and could not be used for cutting down large trees. The hunters´ flint axes were the so-called ”core axes”, which were rather crudely formed and cut from a smaller, oblong flint. They also had the so-called ”flake axes”, which was made by splitting a larger flint block.
The Pointed-Butted Axes
During the Eolithic period about 3.900 BC – 3.300 BC the sharpened flint axes began to surface in southern Scandinavia. First came the so-called “pointed-butted axes. The axe type has been found in large amounts in Scania and in Zealand. As early as the end of the 19th century the legendary Swedish archaeologist Montelius pointed out that this type was the oldest sharpened flint axes. The pointed-butted axe was grinded thoroughly and sharpened towards the butt. It has no narrow sides; the two vaulted sides join in a sharp edge.
The Thin-Butted Axes
In the Paleolithic period an entirely new type of flint axes surface. They are often much bigger and longer. They are called “thin-butted”. They are flat and narrower towards the neck. The length varies from 15 to 40 centimetres.
The change of the flint axe from the pointed-butted to the tin-butted must have served a specific purpose – forest clearing. With the bigger axes they now had an efficient tool to clear the forests and thus expand the farm land.
The Stone Age man apparently took the landscape into possession at this time.
Core Axes
Core Axes
Flint Tools
Flint Tools

Another proof of the fact that the early hunter society became more settled in the Eolithic period is the rich occurrence of pottery from the period. Pottery is fragile and is not suited for the vagrant existence of the hunter society.
The Funnel Beaker Culture
A characteristic trait in the abandoned settlements from the Eolithic period is the many special pottery finds, the so-called ”funnel beakers”. The name indicated that the pottery has the form of a beaker with a neck. The oldest funnel beakers were rather clumsy containers. But the people who used them must have been settled and certainly not people travelling. The funnel beaker pottery can thus be considered a greeting from the first farmers in Scania and in Zealand
In this from of pottery we see man´s desire artistic display. The wet clay was and is an excellent material when it comes to design and decoration. It is interesting that that the sparse decoration of the beakers is almost identical on both sides of the Sound, which indicates that there must have been close contact among the population in the Sound region.
Stone Age Pottery
Stone Age Pottery

©  Øresundstid 2009