Rock Carvings in Tanum

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Rock Carvings in Tanum
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Three men in a ritual
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii, iv
Reference 557
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1994 (18th Session)

The Rock Carvings in Tanum (Swedish: Hällristningsområdet i Tanum), near Tanumshede, Bohuslän, Sweden, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of the high concentration of petroglyphs.

The Vitlycke flat rock

One of the larger rocks of Nordic Bronze Age petroglyphs in Scandinavia, the Vitlyckehäll, is located in Tanumshede.

In total there are thousands of images called the Tanum petroglyphs, on about 600 panels within the World Heritage Area. These are concentrated in distinct areas along a 25 km stretch, which was the coastline of a fjord during the Bronze Age, and covers an area of about 51 hectares (126 acres or 0.5 km²).

Scandinavian Bronze Age and Iron Age people were sophisticated craftsmen and very competent travelers by water. (Dates for ages vary with the region; in Scandinavia, the Bronze Age is roughly 1800 to 500 BCE) Many of the glyphs depict boats of which some seem to be of the Hjortspring boat type carrying around a dozen passengers. Wagons or carts are also depicted.

Other glyphs depict humans with a bow, spear or axe, and others depict hunting scenes. In all cases the pictures show people performing rituals. There is a human at a plough drawn by two oxen, holding what might be a branch or an ox-goading crop made of a number of strips of hide.

The rock carvings are endangered by erosion due to pollution. To the dismay of some archaeologists, some have been painted red to make them more visible for tourists.



  • Coles, John, And On They Went ... Processions in Scandinavian Bronze Age rock carvings, Acta Archaeologica 74 (2003), 211–250. [1]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 58°42′4″N 11°20′28″E / 58.70111°N 11.34111°E / 58.70111; 11.34111