by Jeanne Cordua
Standing stones are not only a phenomenon of the gaul Obelix! With all the granite on Bornholm it is natural, that our forefathers set lots of standing stones over here. According to old records, there should have been over 500, but today only about 200 are left.
What do these old standing stones mean? Perhaps they are memorials of various kinds, just like their heirs, the rune stones (here we have 51), but they may also have been used as border stones or perhaps as images of deities etc.
Here I present some well known standing stones with short descriptions.
I have added coordinate grids for all standing stones – if you want to find them via Google Maps. The stones cannot be seen because of the trees.
The most famous collection of standing stones on the island.
Besides this one, we have Gryet at Nexø.
Coordinates: 55,08,12 N, 15,04,04 E
Map of Louisenlund.
Louisenlund grove contains the second largest collection of standing stones on Bornholm. The name refers to the purchase by the Danish king Frederik VII during his visit to Bornholm in August 1851. The grove was named after his consort, countess Louise Danner, who secured the grove a steady annual support for maintenance. Many stones have slanting edges, possible for use as pointers to the stars.
The edge of the center stone points 51.2 degrees NE – sunrise at summer solstice.
My theory about the center stone – please read Stone carvings and astronomy on the left menu bar!
Burial ground from the iron age, but probably a sanctuary as well.
Map of the Stammershalle area
Coordinates: 55,14,25 N, 14,51,54 E
Center stone of the 3 to the left. This one has a “face” – perhaps an ancient statue of a god, e.g. Njord (the god of the sea)?
The “face” turns left with mouth and eye in the top middle.
The three stones facing the sea all point towards the sunrise. The center stone is parallel to a natural rock at the edge of the sea, visible in the picture. And the direction of the center stone?
Of course, 51.2 degrees NE – summer solstice sunrise at the beginning of the bronze age!
Hellig Kvinde (Sacred Woman)
The most famous “greeting stone” of the island
“Hellig Kvinde” stands at the road to Listed, near Svaneke. The tilt of the main stone points 315 degrees west, sunset on the longest day of the year.
There are in total 11 stones, 1big (the “woman” on a small mound, 10 smaller ones (“her children”) in a ship-shape around it.
Coordinates: 55,08,58 N, 15,05,32 E
From ancient times (how ancient?) people have greeted this stone, saying: “Good day, Holy Woman and thine ten children”. Perhaps we are dealing with an ancient fertility rite for the Great Mother?
A clear head is visible, but besides that the shape is not particularly feminine. Perhaps the ship-shaped mound could be interpreted as a vulva, using a bit of imagination…
The male greeting stone of the island, Hellig Hågen, is standing in a not very well known area in Bodilsker Plantation.
Please notice the “face”!
The “face” turns left with sulking mouth and eye in the top middle.
A folk tale about this stone: Once upon a time a man went to work on the moor, where Hellig Hågen is situated. He did not want to greet the stone and simply said: Oh hello, you old devil! Then he went about his own business until, shortly before sunset, he was to return home – but he got lost time and again, until the sun had nearly reached the horizon. Finally, he found Hellig Hågen again, and humbly he took off his hat and said: I am sorry, Hellig Hågen, I shall never scorn you again! He tipped his hat and got out, the very moment the sun was setting…
Cordinates: 55,04,42 N, 15,01,19 E
(Part of a grove of standing stones, is not known as a greeting stone). The Frenne stone stands close to the road south of Svaneke, near Feriebyen holiday cottages.
This stone also has a face.
The “face” turns left with mouth and eye in the top middle. Again, are we talking about ancient images of gods – and which ones?
Coordinates: 55,07,38 N, 15,09,12 E