Terii’s Cycling Babble

And The Word Of The Day Was….
September 15, 2010, 8:22 am
Filed under: Day Rides


It was the pretty sunshine that decided me to go out the door.  It demanded I try finding those rock etchings.  I mentioned it to my husband who was working from home who immediately told me to get my stuff together.  We were barely 10 miles out of Uppsala when I noticed the high thin clouds that looked a bit thicker further west.  *sigh*  A sunny ride was not meant to be. 

Böglosa Kyrka


About an hour later, we were Boglösa Kyrka under light gray skies.  My minor annoyance at having lost the sunny skies deepened into irritation when I realized I’d forgotten my Garmin GPS at home.  Jens hates it when I forgot things like that generally because it means I might not want to go.  This time, he insisted I go any way.  I had my printed maps.  I had the map book.  Worst case, I just follow the signs to Enköping.  Grudgingly, I agreed.  Besides, Loke seemed VERY excited.  He was tethered to what I think was a modern hitching post, twisting in circles as he woofed at me while I got the trike ready. 

And yep, he was really eager to go.  We blasted out of Boglösa’s parking lot at what felt like warp speed.  He had the tether on his running bar pulled out as hard as he could.  Unfortunately, I had to slow him about 150 yards down the road to make a turn onto gravel which I thought would lead me to the first set of the carvings.  Being without my GPS left me uncertain and the crude sign was not terribly helpful.  I couldn’t tell if I really was on a road or a driveway leading down into a working farmyard.  With a tractor chugging around, I was a bit reluctant to push deeper into the tangle of barns and work buildings. 

Growling under my breath, I turned back around for the paved road. 

Again Loke pulled out all the stops.  I’m guessing he was easily hitting 16 mph though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was running closer to or over 17 mph.  You should have seen the look he gave me when I pulled us to a stop less than half a mile further on for the next carving marker.  Alas, that one wasn’t to be either.  It was a hiking path though Google Maps showed it as a short deadend road.  The way up to it was very steep and strewn with gravel.  No way I could pedal my trike up it and not entirely certain I could drag it up either.  Beyond, the 800 meter long path was only about 2 feet wide with dense growth to either side.  I wasn’t about to leave my trike sitting on the widened section of shoulder that served as the parking lot. 

I was growling under my breath as I skidded down the slope back to my trike and the road.  I seemed to do a lot of that this ride. 

The next carving area did little to improve my mood.  It was a pretty area at least.  Pasture land that had been left to nature.  Only the coming and going of the cows to disturb it.  No plowing, no planting.  Not even cutting the trees or carrying away the old fallen ones.  It is essentially used the same way today as it was thousands of years ago.  It’s a national park and had a little pamphlet with a small map on the back marking the spots of interest with that pointy “R” symbol. 

Loke seemed to object to this stop less than the other ones.  He got to trot around and sniff, wallow around in the deep grass as I looked over every stone surface I thought was big enough to hold a carving.  The map wasn’t terribly helpful as I found it very difficult to orient myself.  I couldn’t make out the directions of the fence line very well without the sun (or my GPS).  No matter where I looked, there was nothing but slabs of stone covered with moss and lichen or erratic boulders cluttered around.  After taking a closer look at the map, I noticed it showed a power line running through the pasture and two marks near it.  I still couldn’t find a thing. 

It finally occurred to me why I might not be seeing what were supposed be almost a dozen carvings scattered in the field.  I wasn’t a trained archeologist who could spot the least little ancient scuff on a mottled rock and clearly see the highly stylized boat, foot, woman or animal shape.  If the marks were highlighted as they do with runestones, I probably had looked over dozens of the carvings and never knew it.  If they weren’t under a thick mat of moss. 

I’d spent probably close to 45 minutes in the field.  Loke actually seemed to enjoy it.  He ran around like a mad dog, sniffed, pounced.  At one point, he had flung himself down onto his back and was wriggling along.  He as actually creeping up a slight hill with a weird inverted worm like motion.  That brightened my mood for a bit.  I was laughing so hard. 

After a fruitless field wander, Loke and I were back on the roads.  Again, it wasn’t too long before it was another stop.  This one definitely improved my mood.  Stone carvings.  It was a large dome of rock just covered with extremely stylized etchings that had been carefully highlighted with paint and signs (in Swedish AND English) to explain what one was seeing.  It really drove home WHY I’d not seen any in the field.  I seriously doubt I’d spotted any in the field even if someone grabbed my head, pointed me at a stone with one and said, ‘Right THERE’. 

Foot Prints & Cup Marks... I Think.


Here, it was mostly ships, foot prints and what were called ‘cup marks’.  These are mostly the footprints.  To quote the sign, “There are a large number of footprints, both traces of naked feet and shoes on this rock.  All of them are turned downhill with toes pointing towards the foot of the hill.  Older reasearch interpreted the footprints as a symbol of a god not to be depicted.  The footprints symbolized the divine presence of the god.  Other reasearch believes the prints could be an indication of human presence.  That humans and gods are strolling side by side on the rock.” 

Ships and Cup Mark


Here are 3 ships and a cup mark.  Quoting the sign – “Ship carvings appear in vast amounts.  They are often simple with strokes representing the crew.  Masts and sails are missing.  The Bronze Age ships were not sail ships, but were paddled.  The carved ship is not necessarily to be seen as a depiction of a real ship from the Bronze Age.  There were probably other symbolic values connected to the ship image.  There is a possibility it could transport people and objects, not only in geographic distances, but also in spiritual. 

Feet, Cupmarks & Ships


To travel by ship into the next world is a common belief in many religions, for instance in the Greek and Egyptian mythology. 

Cupmarks were small round depressions which purpose is obscured.  The cupmark may represent a kind of territory marking, a way for the people set the boundaries of the hill and indicate their presence.” 

The Bodice


This is called ‘The Bodice’.  Quoting the sign – “This site is known mostly because of the bodice figure.  It is deeply cut and has probably been engraved and grinded over and over again, on several different occasions.  The bodice is placed over five female figures, the only known among the rock carvings in Uppland. 

It is mentioned as a ‘chair’ in older literature but nowadays we rather think of it as a bodice.  The measures and cuts are very similar to findings of clothing in Danish Bronze Age burials.  The bodice was a garment included in the Bronze Age man’s wardrobe.” 

I was glad to find this site and it really did convince me I’d been surrounded by rock carvings in that pasture, but simply couldn’t see them.  Take the five female figures mentioned in the bodice sign.  I couldn’t see a single one of them.  I’m sure if I’d spotted the bodice in the field I would have seen it.  It was the only one to be deeply carved enough to be obvious. 

Wolf or Dog With Other Shapes


I wandered around on the bridge and tried looking for more carvings since some of them were quite faded, but all the ones I did spot had at least a trace of paint however old.  I was very pleased to have found an animal carving too!  There was no mention of it in the signs, but it looks like animal to me.  Maybe a wolf or a dog.  It’s to the right of the image around the midline. 

According to another sign, this was a very different landscape 3000+ years ago.  Sweden has been rising steadily since the retreat of the last ice age.  Pressed down by the sheer weight of the glaciers covering it, some parts of it are still rising at almost an inch a year.  So, when these carvings were done, it might have been possible to paddle a ship right up to the hills that have the rock carvings. 

Another example of the land rise, is back in the 1400’s, Uppsala had a direct connection to the Baltic sea.  Now, except for one small river which can get you to one of the larger lakes and THEN to the Baltic through Stockholm, it’s landlocked. 

It was interesting to try to imagine much of the road I was traveling as being underwater.  The area had apparently been a very busy area for Bronze Age man in a spiritual sense.  Another sign I’d found along the road mentioned there were over 1600 carvings in the area.  They had been VERY busy! 

I was feeling better about the day once I’d found some visible rock carvings.  There was one other turn with carvings, but I missed it.  The only place that MIGHT have been the turn seemed to be someone’s driveway.  Without the GPS to compare it to the maps, I wasn’t willing to risk intruding.  One thing I could tell without a GPS.  The wind was rising fast and hard.  The steady flow was likely over 15 mph with gusts pushing into 20.  Not the worst winds I’ve ridden in.  I think my 40+ mile ride from Sala to Forsby along the Sverigeleden last year still holds that title.  All the same, I was working harder. 

Random Autumn Colors


Loke and I went on unhindered any longer by the frequent stops in my search for rockcarvings.  I have to say, he was running d*mn good!  Granted, we’d done a lot of stopping in the first 2 miles which meant he had long breaks between the short, mad charges, but the next 4 miles or so, he was running almost the whole way.  Hills slowed me (and therefore him) down, but there weren’t that many.  So, he spent a long while loping along at 13 mph and going for flat-out runs at what felt like 16 mph for stretches I’m estimating were over a quarter-mile at a time.  I can’t remember the last time he ran so well!!  I was also a bit impressed with myself.  I was managing to keep up the pace so he wasn’t dragging me in spite of the wind. 

We made a turn onto a slightly bigger road that was leading directly into Enköping.  Unfortunately, to continue the way I wanted to go meant going into the town itself.  Since I had been riding on a peninsula for the past few rides and was starting to come out of it, it meant riding around an inlet of the lake.  Enköping sat right at the top of it.  Of course, towns generally mean cycle paths and Enköping was no exception. 

Random bit of information, Copenhagen (I think it was.  Or maybe Amsterdam?) is apparently building 6 (yes SIX) lane cycle paths.  Not Sweden, but impressive all the same. *chuckle* 

Though the road I was on wasn’t a major one, it was one of the most direct ones into Enköping without hitting the highway and Enköping is the closest place for people to work or shop who live in the more rural areas.  I was very glad to get to the area with the paths. 

As I pedaled along, relying on my printed maps and the desperate hope that maybe streets would be well-marked (usually a vain hope), a guy on a bike passed me with some smallish bird-hunting type dog.  Loke saw him and threw his weight into the harness to catch up.  I had to hold him back as the guy continued along, his dog glancing back at Loke worriedly.  The furry one was pulling so hard against the brakes he could barely breathe.  Goof ball. 

I finally took pity on him and crossed the road since the direction I wanted was on that side any way. 

I got a bit lost in Enköping’s industrial area for a bit before I finally found the way I needed.  Not far that way, I found a sign for a cycle path labeled ‘Haga’.  Perfect!!  Haga was the next stop on my map.  A castle or manor house! 

The path was unpaved, but not too bad.  Even the worst unpaved cycle paths I’ve found are never as bad as moderately bad gravel roads let alone the truly awful ones.  So, it was pleasant going though I was a little nervous as the direction.  There had been a couple turns since I’d seen the sign with no other ones to give a hint.  Still, since the direction I needed was away from Enköping and flanked by a small river on one side and the 55 road on the other, I was fairly certain I couldn’t go wrong.  It would have helped if the sun had been out to give me a clearer sense of direction. 

Worthy of Vermont


It was a pleasant ride.  As it went mostly through woods it was more protected from winds than the roads had been.  Here and there were splashes of color though not as much as I might have liked since it was mainly conifers and birch trees.  Birch trees do change, but their long, hanging branches only go yellow.  It sometimes makes the trees look like they got highlights put in. *chuckle* 

Loke was still going along like a well-oiled machine.  Since we’d hit Enköping, he’d finally let go of the need to run like the wind and settled into his ‘traveling trot’.  Easily over 8.5 mph as he still hovered on the edge of easing into a slow lope and he was quite happy to run down any little hill we came across.   Occasionally, we’d get a break in the trees where there were fields or even small residential areas being built.  Amazingly, the houses they were building had a wide range of variety to them.  Not your usual ‘cookie cutter’ type clusters. 

The cycle path ended at a dirt road.  To the left was a house and a wooden fence in old Swedish tradition as well as a sign saying ‘So and so lives here and (a dog’s name) too!”  To the right, it led down toward a line of trees. 

The trees actually shaded a narrow lane.  Glancing to the left, I could see the brick gate posts for Haga Slott. 

Haga Slott


I was a bit hesitant to go in at first.  There have just been too many castles/manor houses with privacy signs this year.  Rather quickly I realized this one was actually a hotel.  There was parking for guests and a large welcome sign as well cafe style chairs and tables set out over the lawn under the shade of the old trees. 

I took pictures, gave Loke some water before going on.  The next stretch was more unpaved, but it was a decent road.  A bit more rocks down then center than I like, but for Loke’s sake, I bumped along to ease his feet.  Even by this point, he was still moving very well. 

Then we came to the 55.  It was worse than expected.  I think the problem was the fact it is a fairly major road between the north side of Lake Mälaren and the south with two moderate sized towns between as well as perhaps the shortest way to Stockholm.  Coming up on nearly 4 pm, people were probably already starting commutes.  I’d used Google Street View to look at it and it hadn’t looked too bad with decent shoulders. 

Well, the shoulders were narrower than they had appeared and the traffic was fairly bad.  Not quite as bad as the 77 when I rode down it to reach the turn for Mörby castle ruins, but bad enough.  No rude drivers at least.  The trucks were the worst.  Huge semi trucks that whipped by fast enough to shove Loke and I around with the wind blast.  The sky was darkening with the thickening of the cloud cover and the traffic quickly getting worse.  I gritted my teeth to head for Svinnegarn Kyrka. 

It was only about 1.5 miles down the road from the turn and few hills so it wasn’t too long.  I would have been faster except I was half off the shoulder and bumping through the rocks.  With the big stones everywhere, I went a bit slower to hopefully keep Loke from getting stone bruises.  It was downright unpleasant and I was incredibly glad to see the church. 

Jens had called while I sat at a bus stop waiting for a thick clump of a dozen or so cars and four trucks to pass.  I told him where he could find me. 

Svinnegarn Kyrka


Svinnegarn Kyrka was a bit unusual looking.  From the angle I could see it was a long, tall rectangle with a squat wooden tower on top.  The parking lot was blissfully smooth, shaded by dense trees and far enough back from the road I felt safe from the traffic. 

Before I collected the camera bag, I swapped to my sneakers and took the harness off Loke.  He looked rather disappointed as I stuffed it in one of the panniers.  I gave him a pat and we walked into the church yard. 

Uppland's Runestone 773


The first thing I noticed was a runestone.  The first (and only) one of the day!  It was a rather simple looking one.  I guess I’ve gotten used to more elaborate ones, but this one was almost as simple as the one sitting in the churchyard wall at Börje.  Almost, but not quite. 

I did a slow wander around the church, keeping Loke away from the grave stones.  He still seemed to have plenty of energy.  I didn’t find any more runestones either standing alone or imbedded in the church or churchyard wall. 

The straight lines of the church were broken only by one addition that stuck from the back end on the left, but it looked like it could have been built when the rest of the longhouse section was. 

Door to a Coal Chute?


At the rear, I found another of those innocuous little dark wooden doors with latches and hinges of iron.  As before I opened this one too since it wasn’t locked. 

The opening was covered with two layers of  rusty iron grating and sloped sharply down into what must have been a cellar in the church.  There was a possible mention of crypts in the information I found, so I suppose it could be a window into that the same way Lilakyrka church had the openings into what appeared to be a mausoleum.  With nothing more to see than the plaster and stone ‘tube’ dropping down, I closed it. 

Loke was sighing a bit as we finished the stroll around the church.  I was clear that however far we’d gone was not enough to satisfy him.  But as it was close to 4 pm and the traffic on the road was worse than ever, I wasn’t about to call Jens and tell him we were further down the road. 

Beautiful Entryway


Before I left the church, the entrance caught my eye.  I guess before, I’d been too focused on the runestone. 

The bricks were rounded in a reducing pointed arch.  It was rather beautiful and certainly distinctive.  When I took the picture, something about the door itself caught my eye and I went for a closer look. 

At first glance, I thought it had been burned.  When wood burns, it gets a strange scaly pattern to it, like the scales of an alligator (where it gets the name).  It looked like there were spots like that on the wood.  Curious, I touched it and then took a closer look.  The door was iron!  I don’t know if it was full iron or just iron sheets laid in an overlap and held on with large rivets, but the face at least was iron.  It was also at least 10 to 12 feet tall, I should also mention.  That line of bare stonework beneath the plaster was almost to my shoulder to give a bit more scale.  I’m 5’2″. 

I also liked the ornamentation on the door.  They reminded me of the metal cup shaped pieces that are sometimes place in the center of old wooden round shields. 

Done with photos, I tethered Loke to a near-by tree and began organizing things with the trike for breaking it down.  I was going to leave the seat on as a chair until Jens came, but there were other things I could settle and put away.  I happened to look up over the fields across the street and sighed.  Rain.  I could see it from the trees in the distance becoming more and more hazy.  

I felt the first drop, there was my husband.  Before the rain was hard enough to get through dense leaves overhead, we were packed and on our way. 

In his usually thoughtful manner, Jens had remembered to bring my GPS and we drove my route in reverse so I would have at least a rough estimate of my distance and a log of it on my computer.  When it was done, it showed 11.02 miles.  I probably did closer to 13 miles with the out-n-backs to reach some of the stone carving areas not to mention getting lost in Enköping. 

So, in spite of the huge amount of frustration I felt at several moments during the ride, it wasn’t truly a bad day.  I got excercise.  Though not nearly as much as he wanted, Loke got a bit of work out as well.  It had taken us over 4 hours to cover the distance, but more than an hour and a half of that was spent walking around in search of the carvings and I did a lot of stopping and map reading when I was lost. 

Best of all?  We avoided the rain!


1 Comment so far
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here’s an idea to enthrall future archaeologists: at each of the ancient sites, leave a stone behind with the outline of a trike and dog on it. That will give them something to ponder in future years :0)

Comment by dexey

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