Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Gamla Uppsala is on flat and cultivated plain along the Fyriså (the plain was formerly called the Fyrisvellir) which is densely populated in the southern part, whereas the northern part consists of farms.
Early written sources relate that in prehistoric times Gamla Uppsala was famous all over Northern Europe and the seat of the Swedish kings of the legendary House of Ynglings. During the Middle Ages, it was the largest village of Uppland and its eastern part formed the core of the network of royal estates, the Uppsala öd.
Adam of Bremen relates of the Uppsala of the 1070s and describes it as a pagan cult centre with the enormous Temple at Uppsala with wooden statues of Odin, Thor and Freyr. Gamla Uppsala also had a large Ting, the Ting of all Swedes and a large fair, the Disting (a fair which is still held every year).
Other sources relate of a pagan renaissance in the late 11th century under king Blot-Sweyn. It is a testimony of Gamla Uppsala's great importance in Swedish tradition, that when Sweden received its Archbishopric in 1164, it was located in Gamla Uppsala. In practice, it had, however, lost its strategic importance due to the constant elevation of the land.
In 2000, Sveriges Asatrosamfund  restarted the tradition of holding blóts at Gamla Uppsala. This was the first public blót at the place for more than 900 years. About 90-100 people attended the event. The event made frontpage news in the local newspaper Uppsala Nya Tidning as well as a full page in Expressen.
The Royal Mounds
Gamla Uppsala is dominated by three large royal mounds of 55-70 metres in diameter, and the so-called Ting Mound. The 8 metre high Eastern Mound was excavated in 1847 and the 11 metre high West Mound in 1874. The 7 metre high Central Mound was probed in 1925 and the Ting Mound in 1989-1990 (new excavations are planned).
Both the East and the West Mounds contained the burnt princely remains of men, but the Eastern Mound is sometimes hypothesized to have contained a woman and a boy.
The tree mounds have been dated to the Migration Age , ca 474-550 (or 575). The dating supports the information of the Ynglinga Saga that Aun, Egil and Adils (the Eadgils of Beowulf) are buried there.
Adjacent to the church there is a plateau of clay, the Plateau of the Royal Estate (Kungsgårdsplatån), on which archaeologists have found the remains of a large hall.
Under the Church have been found the remains of one or several large wooden buildings, which are probably the remains of the Temple at Uppsala. Churches were usually built on previous pagan temples.
In the parish there are more than 1 000 preserved archaeological remains, but many more have been removed by agriculture. There are cairns of splintered stone that reveal that the area was settled during the Nordic Bronze Age, but most of the grave fields are from the Iron Age and the Viking Age.
There are three grave fields which are remarkable: The first one is the Royal Mounds (see also below) on the ridge south of the church. The second one, located east of the church, is a grave field from the Pre-Roman Iron Age with 200 remaining graves. The third one is Valsgärde which consists of ship burials from the Germanic Iron Age (predating and contemporary with Sutton Hoo).
There are also remains of grave fields around the large village at the church, where the remains of the halls of the Swedish kings are preserved.
The name Uppsala meant "high dwellings" and referred to the halls of the Swedish kings.
The church was the Archbishopric of Sweden prior to 1273, when the archbishopric was moved to Östra Aros (Östra Aros was then renamed Uppsala due to a papal request). The old cathedral was probably built in the 11th century, but finished in the 12th century. The stone building may have been preceded by a wooden church and probably by the large Temple at Uppsala. After a fire in 1240, a part of the cathedral was removed but the sacristy and the porch were added. In the 15th century, vaults were added as well as chalk paintings. Among the medieval wooden sculptures, there are three triumph crucifixes from the 12th century, the 13th century and the 15th century.
- Archeological information Gamla Uppsala, by the Swedish National Heritage Board.
- Uppsala official site.
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