Did Grendel live on the island of Møn - some of the mystery in Beowulf solved?

Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
More news from Sandby borg on eastern Öland, where a massacre took place 480 AD. The people were killed by outsiders and left to lie where they fell inside the settlement walls. This is the only ring fort on the island which was placed close to the shore.

Latest investigations reveal that the people were first to make glass products in Scandinavia. The very first find of onions for food also show close contacts with the Roman empire. Only killed men and children have been found yet, so the question remains what happened to the women in the settlement. One archaeologist speculate that they were separated, raped and killed in another place. This chilling question will perhaps be answered after future diggings.

The fact that the settlement was placed deliberately on top of an older grave field and a large grave stone chopped off in the process, perhaps explains later hostilities between the people in Sandby borg and other parts of the island.

Sandby Borg ? An archaeological excavation on Öland
 
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
A day trip yesterday in good weather to northern Zealand. First on top at the large mound Maglehøj with the best view over Denmark's largest lake Arresø to the east and the Roskilde fjord to the west. The steep slope close by the fjord is named Bjørnehoved (the Bear's cape) and above it Bjørnebakken (Bear's hill). Today the area is crowded with houses, but this is one alternative location where I place Earnaness and Hronesness with Beowulf's barrow. In the text we can read that they built his barrow on a high point close to the sea and also constructed a "becn" on top of the barrow. The landscape is flat in most places around the fjord, except for this area south of Fredriksverk town.

Later a visit to Hundested at the inlet of the fjords and the only sea gateway to Lejre. So if Beowulf and his 14 companions sailed to Heorot from Geatland, they had to pass the very point in the picture 4.









 
Last edited:
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
One peculiar fact about the Iron age HQ Lejre on Zealand, is that it is located at a place where two streams from the south merges, before they directly separate again into Lejre å and Kornerup å, flowing to the north against Roskilde fjord. This X kind of water in the landscape is not common and may have been one reason for placing the important settlement at Lejre in the first place. Right at the stream X spot on the map we find the ford and beside it “Hestebjer” where the founder figure Dan was supposed to have been buried.

North flowing water was also considered powerful in old lore. The first hall “Heorot” at Fredshøj was placed above the small tributary which was fed by water from the north flowing well “Snogekilde”.

Is there other examples of important settlements with merging and separating X like streams like this elsewhere?

 
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
Part of Grendel's moor today, in good weather:



Grendel's mere:



"Frecne fengelad" in the midst of Grendel's moor:



Next time it will be in the same conditions as Hrothgar is describing: windy weather up against the cliff.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
Beowulf is in his own story said to have been buried in a barrow close to a location named Hronesness, which means the "whale's cape". As the harbour porpoise is the most common whale around Denmark and Sweden, the name probably refers to this species. In former times it was widely hunted in thousands, well into the 19th century.

Today I visited Kullen, the rocky cape in NW Scania which protrudes long out into Kattegat. Always good views over the sea from the lighthouse, over to Zealand, Bjäre peninsula and Halland far in the north. Kullen is a sort of Hronesness in itself, as flocks of stationary porpoises (or tumlare as they are called in Sweden) often can be seen from the cliffs. Also today one flock
could be seen 100 meters from the shore, tumbling and rolling. Their numbers have increased in recent years, partly because of conservation measures.

Kullen was probably also one of the "shining capes" which Beowulf and his crew passed by on their way to Heorot.




View to the north with Hallands Väderö. Some claim this was the area where the ship battle of Svolder was held in 1000 AD.




One porpoise showing its triangular dorsal fin.

 
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
Gotland. A week’s visit on this magic and unique island in the middle of the Baltic during a heat wave with daily 30 C temperatures. I had the opportunity to visit a place which some connect to the Beowulf story. According to one scholar the parish name “Rone” on the SE coast could be related to Hronesness, the cape where Beowulf was buried. The text pictures a high point looking out over the sea which served as marker for sailors.

Unfortunately, arriving at Rone I found a very flat landscape some distance from the sea where the view was blocked by woods, although the shore has receded during the centuries. Utgarderrojr is the largest Bronze age mound on the island, situated at Rone some 200 meters from the former sea shore, but today much more inland. Like a gigantic stone heap 7 meters high and 48 meters in diameter it dominates the surrounding smaller mounds spread around on the bone dry heath. A blinding hot day.





Cliff capes with good sea views are instead mostly found on the western side of the island.

Two well build stone ship from the later Bronze age was also visited, the first called Tjelvars grave on the eastern coast. Gutasagan mentions him as the first person to set foot on Gotland and claim the former magic island with fire. He became father of three sons of which Gute named the island and the people.



The second larger ship stands on the western side at Gannarve with a good view over the sea and the Karlsö islands. Ready to take an unknown buried sailor out on the salty whale road for distant and unknown shores.



The finest remnants from the Iron age and Beowulf times are the picture stones, of which at least 570 are known. Many are kept at the Visby historical museum. Some were also built into later medevial churches, such as at Bro. They are cathegorized by age, from the oldest A stones up to the E stones with runes and sailing ships. The A stones are dated to mainly 400-600 AD and show pictures of large and smaller wheels, interpretated as sun symbols. Often there also is a rowing ship on the lower part. From 700 AD onwards stones with sailing ships and warriors was erected, perhaps telling stories in now forgotten sagas. Some claim that the story of Helge and Hild and Völund can be found on some of the stones. I tried in vain to find stones with the Beowulf story, which would be not unlikely if he had his origins on the island. The only possible example is one stone with a man facing a large dragonlike monster, like the hero on his last mission.



 
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
And here is one of the picture stones at Bro church, incorporated into the wall around 1300 AD. Same motif as many other stones from the same period (400-600 AD).

 
Last edited:
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
Every summer I try to visit Östergötland which is one of the main regions of former Geatland och Götland, before the unification of Sweden in medieval times. Before that Östergötland had its own chieftains and was an independent area. The mysterious mountain Omberg is situated between the fertile plain to the east and lake Vättern to the west. Along the rocky steep shore are some large caves. Omberg is connected to old tales of giants, trolls and other beings.

A fairy queen from pre christian times was Omma, of whom there are several stories. One speaks of here as the watcher of the mountain and to which people in old times made offerings. She was portrayed as a woman with an eagle owl mask, which meant that no one could identify her. When her time was over her knowledge was passed on to one selected younger woman, after which she threw herself over the cliff into the lake. The long tradition ended when one angry father by mistake killed his masked daughter and new Omma, instead of the old one. The famous door in Rogslösa church is believed to once have been the door in Omma’s pig sty.

If one stands above the cliff at Västra väggar which by one tradition was an “ättestupa” one has a fabulous view over the lake. Vättern holds crystal clear water, which provides the whole region with drinking water. Transparency sight is up to 17 meters.





And of course the lake has its own monster, but very seldom seen. In 2001 at Stocklycke, some visitors spotted three large humps moving in the water, 50 meters out into the lake. The weather was calm and the lake water lay otherwise flat as a mirror. And in 1977 another report tells of a 15 meter long object moving at the speed of a boat. Fishermen speaks of mysterious large holes in their nets…Vättern is far larger than Loch Ness and could easily hold large unknown fish.

Back to Beowulf. During his turbulent era three hill forts on Omberg were active. The one at the northern tip of the mountain is called Ommas borg, and is easily reached on the mountain road, winding high above the steep shore. Today only remains of the stone wall is visible. But a nice spot to visit anyway.

 
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
A new book on Beowulf has been published recently, called ”Beowulfkvädet. Den nordiska bakgrunden” (The Beowulf poem. The nordic background), by Bo Gräslund, professor emeritus in archaeology. Written in Swedish but with a small abstract in English.

Well researched and well written in over 290 pages BG develops the idea that the story around Beowulf originated in the Baltic area and that Beowulf himself was from Gotland. In that way the Geats were Gutar and not from Väster- or Östergötland. This idea is not new and was proposed for example by Gad Rausing in 1985.

BG argues that the name of Beowulfs people the Weder-geats or Wederas is not related to the word weather/wind/storm but instead to vädur or vedder, placing them on Gotland as the ram was some sort of original totem animal on the island (not proved). The ram is at least a symbol from on the island from the middle ages onwards.

In this view the geatish-swedish wars was strictly held over the Baltic sea between Swiorice and Gotland. The geatish HQ and hall with king Hugleik below the “clif” is suggested to have been standing at Bandlund in Burs parish on the SE part of Gotland, where earlier investigations have revealed a very large building by 67 x 11 meters. Remains of many burned houses on Gotland from the 6th C is connected to attacks from the Swedes led by Othere and Onele (Ale). He even suggest that the burial of Ongentheow in Sweden is located at the mound Brunnshögen at Ärnavi quite close to Old Uppsala. This mound holds a very rich cremation grave from the 6th C including a scull bone with a cut into it, as from a sword. Who knows if this grave really holds a Scilfing grave?

Lucky for me, BGs own explanation on Grendel and his mother is far away from my own! He argues that the volcanic eruptions between 536 and 550 resulted in cold weather, crop failure, starvation and widespread death, which is not unlikely. But the two monsters should therefore be interpreted as the “big starvation event” which killed off many Danes through the 12 winters. Beowulf’s own counter strike on the monsters should in turn be interpreted as his advice to let a number of people emigrate (as we can read in Saxo or the Gutasaga). In my view this explanation is very far fetched, concerning the more human like monsters.

He also propose that Heorot is not placed at Lejre on Zealand, but farther south and close the the famous stone paved road at Broskov, which is of the type that we can read of in the Beowulf story. If this is true Hrothgar’s great hall is yet to be found in the Stevn area.
 
Aug 2011
1,616
Sweden
Earlier this summer a 8-year old girl found an Iron age sword in lake Vidöstern i southern Sweden. According to news the well preserved sword was intact including a scabbard in wood and leather. Dated by archaeologists to be around 1500 years old, who also found a fibula on the same site during a later investigation, in the unusually low water. Prolonged drought this summer has caused water to drop to record low levels in lakes and rivers.

Girl pulls 1,500-year-old sword from lake