The prehistory of the Bjäre peninsula

With prehistory one refers to the time before the us of written language. The prehistoric age includes three different periods, the Stone Age , the Bronze Age and the Iron Age . The time axis below shows when these three ages took place in Sweden. (f.Kr = B.C., e.Kr = A.D.)

 The Stone Age on the Bjäre peninsula (10 000 B.C. - 1 800 B.C.)

About 13 000 years ago the Bjäre peninsula was uncovered as the last Ice Age ended. When the ice masses receded to the north, humans from the European continent colonised the southern part of Sweden. At the time the province of Skåne was connected with Denmark by dry land which made the travel much easier then today when one needs to travel by boat. The first humans that reached Bjäre were probably nomades that mainly supported themselves on hunting and fishing.

In course of time the climate got warmer. The melting water from the inland ice and the elevation of the land reshaped Scandinavia and created the Baltic Sea (Östersjön) and the Sound (Öresund). From the oldest part of the Stone Age habitations have been found near Appelryd and in Rammsjö outside Västra Karup. A lot of findings has also been made in other parts of Bjäre.

About 4200 B.C. the knowledge of agriculture reached southern Sweden. Soon its importance had grown greatly and the people cleared land and created cultivations. The marks from this age is today however mostly hidden in the landscape.

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 The Bronze Age on the Bjäre peninsula (1 800 B.C. - 500 A.D.)

The Bronze Age is the period with the most significatnt amount of preserved prehistoric findings. There are approximately 700 registered barrows on the Bjäre peninsula of which 100 have a diameter the exceed 20 meters. The most grandiose is named Dagshög (Hill of Dag) and is the largest in Skåne. Dagshög is located south of Torekov and can also be seen from the sea. Other barrows of significance are a numbers of ship barrows (tumulus) that have been covered with soil. There are also about 40 mounds of stones. One of the reasons of the great concentration of barrows on Bjäre is probably the admirable view from the Hallandsås (the Ridge of Halland).

The many findings that have been made in the district indicate that Bjäre, due to its geographic location, had an important part in the trade and culture exchange between Denmark and the Swedish west coast. Among the many findings the bronze horn from Påarp should be mentioned.

For a long time it was believed that rock-carvings did not exist on Bjäre, but as late as in 2001, cavings of horse’s hoofs and other simple illustrations were discovered. Otherwise it is exclusively grooves, cup-shaped carvings and so-called foot sole carvings that have been found. There are approximately 400 different locations with cup-shaped carvings but the true amount is most certainly much greater. The foremost site in the Nordic countries when it comes to the size of cup-shaped carvings, is situated nearby Flatakull, in the parish of Västra Karup, but there are also other places with large cup-shaped carvings on Bjäre.

During the Bronze Age the agriculture became even more important. Many fossil cultivations appear in the landscape for instance terraced cultivations along the slopes of Hallandsås. One site can be found in Dejarp, which is one of Sweden’s largest locations with long and narrow terraced cultivations.

Even though many findings have been made on the Bjäre peninsula, very few local habitations are known from the Bronze Age. More archaeological excavations in the area would however most certainly lead to many discoveries of long-houses and similar.

The very fine preserving grade of the ancient remains on Bjäre is hihly unique. Nowhere else in Sweden or northern Europe is the preserving grade from the Bronze Age of the same level.

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 The Iron Age on the Bjäre peninsula (500 A.D. - 1 050 A.D.)

During the Iron Age the climate became colder and more similar to present climate. As a result to the climate change people adapted and started to construct houses with the cattle shed indoors. The residents became also more settled. With the iron production it was now possible to construct steadfast equipment. The iron shod plough, the scythe and the sickle became important tools.

Evidence in the landscape from this period on Bjäre is quite rare. There is however a number of upright stones (smaller megaliths), stone circles (cromleches) and smaller stone henges (so-called domarringar). Among these there is Hafsten just south of Ängelsbäck that is about 3,5 meters tall, one of the greatest in Skåne. There are also many grave fields from the Iron Age, often nearby grave fields from the Bronze Age.

The earliest records of the Bjäre peninsula dates back to the Iron Age. In a latin-gothic source from 500 A.D. the habitants are called “bergio”. This should probably be translated into “mountain people” (bergbor) and has it origin in the word “bjär” that even today lives on in the name Bjäre.

There are also other names and terms that we have inherited from the Iron Age. For instance there are village names that ends with –löv/-lev and -inge. In the district we have Förslöv, which comes of Fär (fä = cattle) and Hemmeslöv after Heimir. Glimminge and Mäsinge are other examples.

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Source: Kulturvårdsprogram, Kultur- och fritidsnämnden, Båstads kommun (Båstad district), 2002