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19.06.2020

Gamla Uppsala

Gamla Uppsala is a parish and village outside Uppsala in Sweden. In 2016 it was home to 17,973 people.

It was an important religious, economic and political centre already in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. and beyond. Early written sources claim that already in prehistoric times Gamla Uppsala was well known in Northern Europe as the residence of the Swedish kings of the legendary Ingling dynasty. In fact, the oldest Scandinavian sources such as Ynglingatal, the Law of Vestargo and Gutasaga speak of the King of the Swedes (Suiones) as 'King of Uppsala'.

In the Middle Ages it was the largest village in Uppsala, the eastern part of which probably originally formed the core of a property complex belonging to the Swedish crown, the so-called Uppsala Garden, the western part of which consisted of the royal estate itself, kungsgargården.

At the end of February or the beginning of March there was a piece (general meeting) of all Swedes, which took place from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. It was held at the same time as a large fair called "Distributor" and a Norwegian religious festival called "Dansablut". Uppland's law states that it was at this meeting that the king declared that the leydang would be called to war in the summer, and all crews, rowers, commanders and ships were determined.

It was not only a Norwegian cult centre, but also a Swedish archbishopric in 1164.

History

Evidence of the sanctity of this place in the minds of medieval Norwegian religious followers is that Gamla Uppsala was the last stronghold of the pre-Christian, Norwegian German kingdom. In the 1070s and 1080s, there seems to have been a revival of the northern religion with the magnificent Uppsala Temple, described in the controversial story of Adam of Bremen, who was an eyewitness. Adam of Bremen tells of Uppsala in the 1070s and describes it as the centre of a pagan cult with a huge Temple in Uppsala containing wooden statues of Odin, Tor and Freyr.

Around the 1080s, the Christian King Inga was expelled for refusing sacrifices. Blot-Swain was elected in his place, but was killed by Inge, who was then able to regain his throne.

His great importance in Swedish tradition led to the establishment of the first Swedish archbishopric in 1164 in Gamla-Uppsala. In practice, however, it lost its strategic importance when it gradually lost free access to navigable waters as the land grew due to the constant postglacial rise.

Archaeology

People have been buried in Gamla-Uppsala for 2000 years, since the area was elevated above water. Originally, there were between 2,000 and 3,000 barrows in the area, but most of them have become agricultural land, gardens and quarries. Today there are only 250 barrows left.

More than 1000 archaeological remains have been preserved in the parish, but many of them have been removed by agriculture. Cracked stone fortresses have been preserved in the parish, indicating that the area was inhabited during the Northern Bronze Age, but most of the burial fields date back to the Iron Age and the Viking Age.

The large tomb field south of the Royal Barrows dates back to the Roman Iron Age and the German Iron Age. Next to the Vicar, several unburned Viking Age graves have been excavated.

Remains of one or more large wooden buildings were found under the present church in Gamla-Uppsala. Some archaeologists believe that these are the remains of the Uppsala Temple, while others believe that they are the remains of an early Christian wooden church. Churches were often built on pre-Christian holy sites.

Next to the present church there is a clay plateau - the plateau of the royal estate (Kungsgårdsplatån), on which archeologists found the remains of a large hall.

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