In total there are more than 3000 rock carvings occurring in more than 200 panels in the World Heritage area in Tanum.

rock carvings tanum - world heritage

Since 1994 the rock carvings in Tanum have been included on UNESCO's world heritage list. The rock carvings is an outstanding example of Bronze Age art (1800 - 600 BC).

Rock carvings are images created by removing part of a rock surfaces by pecking and carving. Other terms used are petroglyphs, engraving, rock art and stone images and for the images other terms are signs, figures, symbols or glyphs. Rock carvings are found around the world and are associated with prehistoric cultures.

The oldest rock carvings found are dated to the Neolithic and Paleolithic time, about 10.000 to 12.000 years ago.

The Northern Bohuslän (the red marked area on the map) has the largest concentration of carvings anywhere in Scandinavia. The carvings has the greatest variety of images that exist anywhere in the north of Europe. Common images are cup marks, discs, wheels, circles, animals, hands, foot soles, nets, ships, warriors, deers, bulls, scenes of ploughing men, hunting scenes and religious or ceremonial activities. - rock carvings rock art petroglyph scandinavia

Vitlycke marks the centre of the World Heritage area in Tanum. Other major sites in the area are Fossum, Litsleby, Aspeberget, Jörlov, Kalleby, Massleberg, Fossum, Tegneby and Bro.
In total there are more than 3000 rock carvings occurring in more than 200 panels in the Northern Bohuslän.

There are many theories to explain their purpose - astronomical markers, maps, symbolic communication, forms of pre-writing, shamanism or as a result of the genetically inherited structure of the human brain.

The Nordic Bronze Age cirka 1800 - 600 BC
The Nordic Bronze Age was characterized by a warm climate comparable to that of present day Mediterranean. In the end of the bronze age (circa 650 BC) a radical change in climate brought in wetter and colder climate.
Due to the climate change and the loss of population Scandinavia had a cultural recession lasting for about thousand years until the rise of another advanced civilization, the Viking Age.

Panorama pictures of rock carvings, panels:
Picture of Fossum panel. (Open in new window.)
Picture of Vitlycke panel. (Open in new window)
Picture of Massleberg panel. (Open in new window)

EuroPreArt - a rock art site
International Rock Art Research Team
UNESCO World Heritage List
Scandinavian Society for Prehistoric Art
Vitlycke Museum
Alta Museum Norway
Stone Pages
Megalithic portal
Rock Art in Northern Europe
Northumberland Rock Art
The Rock Art Foundation
American Rock Art Research Association
Tanum Tourist Office
Rock Carvings Bornholm

Bronze Age - Wikipedia
Panorama pictures World Heritage

more links on the timeline ... >>


This book is the outcome of a prolonged period of research and  discovery into the Bronze Age rock carvings of Bohuslan (Sweden) and Östfold (Norway).
Over 100 of the most complex and varied sites, containing many thousands of images, are presented in new plans and photographs. The images, of boats, humans, wheeled vehicles, wild and domesticated animals, ards, weapons and other symbols demonstrate great variability. Over 800 rock carving sites, and their contemporary monuments, are mapped and described in terms of the evolving landscapes of the period 1500 - 300 BC. The area explored in the book includes the World Heritage region in western Sweden and the whole territory of rock carvings examined forms one of Europe's greatest prehistoric cultural treasures.

Julian Cope's long-awaited follow up to The Modern Antiquarian, his bestselling and critically acclaimed guide to ancient Britain. The Megalithic European takes us on a breathtaking journey around prehistoric Europe's first temples.

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