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27.11.2020

Hovgarden, Lake Malaren

Hovgorden - archaeological site on Lake Melaren, the island of Adelse in the municipality of Ekereo in central-eastern Sweden. During the Viking Age, the center of the thriving valley of Melaren was the settlement of Birka, founded in the middle of the 8th century and abandoned at the end of the 10th century and located on the island of Björkö south of Adelse. It is believed that Hovgorden was the place where kings and chiefs ruled. In 1993, Hovgorden together with Birka became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hovgorden is located in a plain to the northwest of the Romanesque church of Adelse, characterized by a narrow rift valley that stretches north to the forested moraines. These historic meadows were cultivated in the 19th century and have hardly changed since then, as evidenced by several well-preserved 18th century farmyards.

The oldest archaeological finds on Adelsa, found north of Hovgorden, are tomb fields and mounds from the Bronze Age (around 1800-500 BC). Apparently, this culture survived until the Iron Age (500-800 BC), as graves from the beginning of this period have been found in several places in the area. About 124 graves have been found in Khovgorden; the oldest is from the late Roman Iron Age (1-400 AD) and the youngest is from the early Middle Ages (c. 1050-1520), indicating that the area was continuously inhabited during this period.

To the north of the parish church there are five large barrows, three of which are called Kungshogar. In Swedish, Kung means king, and högar from the ancient Scandinavian word haugr, which means hill or mound. Hovgorden seems to have been the site of the royal estate of Kungsgard since the Viking Age (ca. 800-1050 N.E.). During excavations of one of these royal mounds in 1917, the remains of a rich man who lived about 900 AD were found. He was burned, lying in a boat, in expensive clothes, but without arms, accompanied by horses, cows and dogs.

Tag, the oldest city in Sweden, was an international point of sale. It was assumed that the royal settlement in Hovgorden was founded as a means of king's control of Birka. However, although Birka was abandoned in the middle of the 10th century, the royal estate does not appear to have been like the runic stone U 11 around 1070, which is said to have been carved for the king, was installed next to the royal mounds. It was part of Uppsala öd, a network of royal estates supporting the Swedish kings.

In addition, King Magnus Barnlock replaced the old castle with a palace built from Alsnö Hus bricks in the 1270s. In the palace, the king founded the Swedish nobility through the decree of Alsno (Alsnö stadga) in 1279. However, the palace was destroyed until the end of the same century, and since it was left in decline, Hovgorden lost its meaning.

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