Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Götaland theory, or Västgötaskolan is an umbrella term for a number of ideas proposed by amateur historians and local patriots in the province of Western Götaland, Sweden. It is not accepted at universities, but it is agressively preached to non-scholars by its adherents (as new research).
Commonly, it is a term referring to a set of opinions among some amateur historians that oppose the general professional scholar view that holds the ancient pagan (heathen) location for Ása-faith worshipers (named Ubsola in ancient sources) and the original homeland of the Sveas to be located in Gamla Uppsala outside the modern city of Uppsala in the Province of Uplandia, Sweden.
Generally, all views opposing the official Svealand theory might at times be summoned under this term, though not necessarily suggesting that the province Västergötland was the origin of Sveas and the location of Ubsola.
Some adherers to the Götaland theory are conspiracy theorists accusing the academic scholars of lying and falsifing for example documents and runic stones to disprove the Götaland theories.
Basically, the 19th and 20th century opposers that rendered the term 'Västgötaskolan' stated that the original place and the location of Ubsola should instead be in the Swedish province of Västergötland, preferably in the old parts that used to be called Uplanden (the higher or upper land). In this area we find the impressive ridge/mountain Kinnekulle, and accidentally the village and church of Husaby, at which location the first Svea (or Swedish) christian king Olof Skötkonung was baptized.
Additionally, they also held the view that Västergötland and the region of lake Vänern was in fact the land of Sithun, translated to modern day language as Sigtuna where Odin and his Aesir companions supposedly settled when they came to Scandinavia.
Amongst its advocates may be mentioned Pehr Tham , from 1811 a member of Götiska förbundet who during the 19th century unsuccessfully tried to promote the view that the village Sätuna in Västergötland should have represented Old Sigtuna, and that the town of Birka related in ancient sources also were located in Västergötland, most likely by the lake Hornborgasjön . He is often denoted as "the last of the Rudbeckians".
Another enthusiast was the very thorough Carl-Otto Fast - the one that forced the proof of the well in Gamla Uppsala to be disclosed. Despite eager disapproval of the scholar of the time, Fast enforced an endo-chronological examination of the oak tree wood inside of the supposed holy well of Urd found at the kings mounds in Gamla Uppsala. The king of Sweden accommodated the request in 1946 AD, and the wood was proven to be cut down around 1654 AD - not nearly old enough to have been placed in an original holy well.
See Uppsala for the modern Swedish city.
Ubsola, mythical seat of the Sveas of old Sweden
Upsalum, or Ubsola, is the name stated as the main cult center of pagan (heathen) Ása-faith in ancient Scandinavia and Sweden, generally translated into modern day language as Uppsala. This is were the supposed 'golden covered temple' should have been located, as described amongst others by Adam of Bremen and Snorri Sturluson.
The general opinion is that the origin of the tribe of Suiones (usually only called Swedes in English) as well as the ancient pagan Ása cult- and Temple at Uppsala sites were located in Gamla Uppsala, Old Uppsala, in the county of Uppland, Sweden. An opposing belief however states that the original site for the pagan Ása-temple was not located here, but in the county of Västergötland, in western Sweden, which was named after a different tribe, the Geats.
This article discloses some interesting points raised by non-scholars about the possibility of keeping a wider scope for finding the "truth" behind the myths - in essence, whether the original site of the Ása cult was really Uppsala in Uppland, Sweden (the Svealand theory), or if Ubsola was located elsewhere (e.g. in Västergötland, according to the Götaland theory).
The Svealand theory
Whereas there exist several places in Sweden bearing the name Uppsala, the original seating of the tribe of Suiones as well as the mythic place for the old Swedish pagan culture of the Aesir. is mostly believed to have been located in Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), just outside the modern city of Uppsala. This belief may be referred to as the Svealand theory.
Main arguments for placing Ubsola in Uppland
Generally, this is based upon the following facts:
- Gamla Uppsala holds several mounds, of which the most famous, the three great mounds known as the kings' mounds are visible from far away. These are said to be the mounds of three famous mythological kings, Ane (Aun), his son Egil - also known as Ongentheow and sometimes Angantyr - (father of Ottar and Ale), Adils (Ottars son), living sometimes around 450 - 550 A.D.
- Also, it is an indisputable fact that the county of Uppland holds several findings from around the 10th and 11th century A.D. that indicates that a kingdom was ruled from here.
- Furthermore, an often named place in the myths and sagas is Fyris Wolds, a vast field near the temple site of Uppsala - and the river passing the modern city Uppsala is in fact called Fyrisån, the Fyris river. Fyris survives as the name of mediaeval royal estate on the location, and in the names of two small lakes. The application of the form to the river, is however from the 17th century.
- In Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, the Ynglinga saga being part of the history of ancient Norwegian kings, the place Ubsola (Upsalum) is said to be located by the lake Lagen/Logen, which Snorri means should be the lake Mälaren, dividing Uppland and Södermanland and hosting the capital of Sweden, Stockholm, at its eastern shores. The ancestor of the Ynglinga family is said to be Frey, the God that came to Scandinavia together with Odin. When Odin found the place to be, he named that country (or place, castle, town...) Sigtuna. In the days of Snorri, this town existed (and is archeologically proven to have existed around 1000 A.D.) to the north of Mälaren.
- The same location is pointed out by Adam of Bremen, who was a bishop in Hamburg that wrote the history of the great arch bishop domain of northern Europe, including Scandinavia until Lund was given an arch bishop seat in the 12th century. He, however, did not explicitly state that the temple was located in Uppland.
The Götaland theory
An intense opposing interest from non-scholars from Västergötland have long tried to present indications, and evidence, for placing the ancient Ubsola not in Uppland, but in the county of Västergötland. This theory might, with correspondence to the above used headline, be called the Götaland theory. Historically, stemming from the 19th century, these theories have been referred to as 'Västgötaskolan', the school of Västergötland origins for ancient Sweden. Some adherers to Västgötaskolan are conspiracy theorists accusing the academic scholars of lying and falsifying for example documents and runic stones to disprove Västgötaskolans theories.
Opposing notes of interest for not placing Ubsola in Uppland
Several interesting notes have been raised against the common theory of Svealand being the ancient home of Sveas and the Ása cult, e.g. the following:
In some ancient sources (Tacitus'
Germania), the tribe or country of Suiones, Sveoner or
are said to be living side by side with a different people, the
Sitones, who is ruled and governed by women.
The same type of burial customs, the big mounds containing ashes in an urn, is not known in other parts of south and middle Sweden prior to the big mounds in Gamla Uppsala, but there are in fact the same type of mounds found further to the north, securely dated to the 3rd century A.D. Similar mounds are also dated to 200-300 A.D. in western Norway. This might indicate that the customs of big mounds had come from the north of Sweden to the south, rather than the opposite as could be expected for an expanding tribe of Sveas in Uppland. In fact, the burial customs could well indicate that they are the remains of the Sitones, perhaps stemming from the bronze age since the burial customs correspond with those of the urn field culture in Europe during the younger bronze age and pre-Roman iron age.
When Odin came to the kingdom of Gylfi, he got the land by help
of Gefjon, who 'ploughed the land westwards into the sea, leaving a
whole in the land that became a sea', and that this land became
Sjælland, said to be the increase of Denmark. Furthermore, the myth
says that 'bays of Sjælland lies like capes in the sea'. Even today, any
professional would find it hard to fit Sjælland of Denmark into Mälaren of
Written in English, the name Logen/Lagen for the great sea in Snorri's
sagas is very easily deducted to be just that, not a name of a special
lake, but the only real notion needed; it is the lake - the greatest
of them all, Vänern.
Adam of Bremen also described the trade center Birka, as the town where the first bishop Ansgar during the 9th century was supposed to have come to declare Christianity among the heathen people of the north.
The original advocates for the Götaland theory or Västgötaskolan is willing to seek evidence for Västergötland, and the lake Väner region in particular, to be the 'origin of both the different people called Sveas, Danes and Goths/Geats/Götar, and furthermore the location of all ancient myths, including Oden's Sithun (Sigtuna), Valhall, the ashtree Yggdrasil etc. and myths of e.g. Helge Hundingsbane and Sigurd Fafnersbane .
Naturally, to hold any view at all regarding the existence, first, and the location, second, of these ancient places of cult and religion, one has to be very well read of the actual historical sources, and of the findings in archeological and linguistical science being conducted over the years.
From a scientific viewpoint, the content of old myths and sagas cannot be held as historically valid sources. For one thing, they are written down centuries after they are supposed to have happened, following oral traditions that at best have added some flavour to the original tales - if there are any real matter to them at all. More often, the tales have lent from one another and the final versions are likely to contain additions that can only render them untrustworthy as historical sources. They can, however, disclose elements that have bearing and references in known and alleged sources from other parts of Europe, and hence some traces of the original (again, if they ever existed) deeds and people may be identified from them.
Especially, the story of Odin and the Aesir's emigration according to the Ynglinga saga is generally considered invalid by the official views and scholars. Other parts of the extensive work of Snorri (and other saga writers) may however be considered valid references for finding elements of the ancient history of Scandinavian people and their religious customs and beliefs.
Official view on the location of Ubsola, ancient Uppsala
Not much attention have been paid from the scholars as to whether there
could be any bearing in the reflections made and the arguments raised by
the Götaland theory. There are as of today very little archeological
to support the idea that Västergötland should hold the original site
It is quite clear, however, that from 700 AD and mainly 800 - 900 AD the town of Birka was surrounded by a strong settlement of Viking era Sveas. The big question is whether they originated in Uppland, or if they originated in the oldest agricultural areas in Sweden, the Väner area in Västergötland. As of today, the official view stands unchanged: Ubsola was located in Uppland.
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