self" id="return139">Cole, 2011) in full agreement with our findings of high Sun Cult activity at Ales Stones and in Österlen in general.

・ The Madsebakke Sun-wheel provides remarkable functional and temporal similarities with Ales Stones, and the other monuments and rock-carvings in southeastern Sweden (Figure 28).

2) Ales stones were built as a sophisticated astronomical calendar:

・ The long-axis of the ship and the position of the individual stones are built with strict alignment to the solar movements over the sky during the year and throughout the day (Figure 24).

・ The 4 main directions at Summer and Winter solstices are also recorded by the cup mark figures on the top of stones 8 in the SE and NW (Figure 25).

・ The monthly sunrises from December to June move from stone to stone with an interval of 30 days. The monthly sunsets from June to December also move from stone to stone with an interval of 35 days for the first month and 30 days for the remaining 5 months. This gives a full year of 365 days (Figure 26).

・ The ship also works as a huge sundial of 16 segments each covering 1 hour and 30 minutes (Figure 27).

・ This implies overwhelming facts that the Ales Stones monument was built as astronomical calendar of remarkable skill and practical dimensions.

・ This builds on to previous knowledge of an intensive Sun Cult in southern Scandinavia during the Bronze Age (e.g. Montelius, 1911; Almgren, 1927; Bröndsted, 1938; Kristensen, 2010; Lind & Mörner, 2010; Mörner & Lind, 2018).

・ The Madsebakke Sun-wheel exhibits sophisticated astronomical functions almost identical to those recorded in Ales Stones.

3) Märta Strömberg (1997) described her project at Ales Stones in terms of three questions to be addressed: a) when was it built, b) what was the purpose, and c) what happened after. I think we have answered all three questions:

・ It was built 750-700 BC as indicated by overwhelming facts highlighted in the text and summarized above under point 1.

・ The purpose was the establishment of a sophisticated astronomical calendar giving the main solar turning points, the 12 months, the 365 days and the daily hours.

・ Only limited activity can be recorded for the period 500 BC to 800 AD. In the Viking time there must have been intense activity, however, judging from the mound found in the shore section (Mörner, 2011, 2015), which is full of bones and burned stones and dated at 995 ± 45 cal. yrs BP.

4) Finally, we stress the remarkable functional and temporal correlations here established between Ales Stones and the Madsebakke Sun-wheel.


We acknowledge the kind recalculation by Göran Henriksson (Associate Professor in Astronomy at Uppsala University) of the true timing of sunrise at Winter solstice with respect to the stern stone of Ales Stones (Figure 6). We are indebted to Ingvar Kullberg, who assisted us in the field, made independent measurements and took excellent photographs for us (Figure 35), to Conny Klang, who assisted us in communications and various practical matters, to archaeologists Hans Ekerow and Esbjörn Jonson, who took part in the excavations in 2011 and correct presentation of Ales Stones at site, to Marie Schram, Lind’s field assistant for many years, and to Pamela Matlack-Klein for her kind linguistic check. All our C14-dates (21 by now) were done by Göran Possnert at the Uppsala C14-laboratory. As a curiosity, we note that it was Nils Lind (a close ancestor to one of us), who discovered the Madsebakke rock-carvings in 1884. Finally we acknowledge a kind, sharp and very useful anonymous review.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

Cite this paper

Mörner, N.-A., & Lind, B. G. (2019). Ales Stones in Southern Sweden: A Remarkable Monument of the Sun Cult and Advanced Astronomy in the Bronze Age. Archaeological Discovery, 7, 92-126.


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In order not to “contaminate” our main paper with negative discussions of unfortunate misunderstandings with respect to Ales Stones, we put these perspectives under this separate additional note.

It all goes back to a very strange excavation in 1996. Strömberg intended to try to find datable material underneath one of the stones, in order to get a final date of the erection of the monument. She selected stone N24 (the 5th stone on the northern side from the stern stone). She put two men to dig and sample any organic matter, but left for a private meeting (though this was her most important excavation). A pit was dug on the outer side of the stone, and when the men reached “the stone foot” (i.e. the circle of stones that had been hit into the bounder clay to keep the big block in position) they stopped at a depth of about 60 - 70 cm. In the lowermost 10 cm they found some black lumps, which they put into a plastic bag and backfilled the pit. When Strömberg returned she got the sample bag. On the bag she wrote: “Ales stenar, beside block N24, ca 70 cm below surface, juni-96” (see, Mörner, 2015, Figure 16). A piece of charcoal of birch was C14-dated at 525 ± 105 cal. yrs AD (Strömberg, 1997; Mörner et al., 2012; Mörner, 2015).

Here started the controversy about the age and function of Ales Stones. Strömberg (1997) unfortunately wrote that the sample came from beneath Stone N24, adding: “if we can trust the excavators”, which sounds like she was not sure herself.

We found the original sample bag, on which it is clearly written “beside (Swedish: invid) block N24”. “Beside” and “beneath” refer to two totally different positions. “Beside” the block implies that the erection of Ales Stones must be older than 525 ± 105 cal.yrs AD (our opinion: e.g. Lind & Mörner, 2010; Mörner, 2015). “Beneath” the block implies that Ales Stones must be younger (Strömberg, 1997; Söderberg et al., 2012; Söderberg & Knarrström, 2015).

The recovery of the original sample-bag (by Mörner on March 14, 2012) was a great thing for us realizing that something was wrong because of the same age of the charcoal claimed to come from beneath the block and from the food remains from inside the urn ( Figure 41 ). Photos of the text on the sample-bag were published ( Mörner et al., 2012

In this situation, we are convinced that there can only be one true story, and this must be that the dated sample came from beside the stone, not below the stone. Therefore, Ales Stones must be older―not younger―than the 500 AD date.

Obviously, Strömberg (1997) herself was not sure. The more sure were her successors, however (Söderberg et al., 2012; Andersson et al., 2013; Söderberg & Knarrström, 2015). In a special report (Mörner et al., 2012), we objected to the handling of the review of Ales Stenar by Söderberg et al. (2012). Mörner (2017b) objected to the story by Söderberg & Knarrström (2015).

Figure 41. A: the original drawing by Strömberg (1997) with sites of C14-dates (1-6), the urn and excavation pit (4) beside block N24. B: the segment with the block N24 now with the sampling site wrongly sifted to a position below the block by Söderberg et al. (2012). C: photo of the original sampling-bag saying that the sample was taken beside (not below) bock N24 (from Mörner, 2015).

Besides the illusion of the correct position of the dated sample (beside not below block N24) just discussed, the proponents of a date of Ales Stones of about 500-1000 AD claim that the building of huge stone ships is typical for the Late Iron Age to Viking Age (Söderberg et al., 2012; Söderberg & Knarrström, 2015). Lind (2017) replied to this that all the ships built in the Late Iron Age and Viking Age have smoothly curved sides and sharp bows and sterns ( Figure 42 ) contrary to Ales Stones, which has a truncated stern and an extended keel with rams typical for Greece ships in the Bronze Age.

Figure 42.The Anund ships at Västerås from the Viking period. The sides are smoothly curved and the bow and stern are pointed (from Lind, 2017) contrary to the Ales Stones ship which has a truncated stern and a keel extended into rams, just as the Greece ships of the Bronze Age had.

In conclusion, there seems to be no valid argument for claiming that Ales Stones was built in the period 500-1000 AD. On the other hand, there seems to be overwhelming evidence of a Late Bronze Age time of the erection of the monument.

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