World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Grooves (archaeology)

Article Id: WHEBN0021491588
Reproduction Date:

Title: Grooves (archaeology)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Archaeoastronomy, Chalcolithic, Technology, Groove, Archaeology of Sweden
Collection: Archaeoastronomy, Archaeology of Sweden
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Grooves (archaeology)

Grooves in a fan-shaped pattern and with one crossing, Gotland, Sweden
Grooves, the one at left at the edge of another one, Gotland, Sweden.
Cut of a groove measured in a groove on Gotland.
A stone with grooves that has been put in the border of a prehistoric grave. The grooves are on the side of the stone. Gotland
Grooves on Gotland
Grooves in Gantofta, Scania
Detail of the grooves in Gantofta

There are grooves (Swedish: sliprännor, slipskåror) carved into rock in many places in Europe, and some of them appear on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. They are common in France, where they were used to polish stone axes.

In whetstones.[1]

Grooves in France date from the Neolithic and are called polissoirs. Those in l’Aube date from c. 2500 to 2000 BCE. People who built dolmens, erected menhirs and made grooves supported an archaeological culture known as Seine-Oise-Marne. The l’Aube district had more than 130 monuments from this period including 49 grooves before 1927. Today there are only 34 including 16 grooves. Many stones were cut into roadstones or building blocks for homes.

Grooves have also been found in Tavastia in Finland and in Luxembourg, as well as at Fyfield Down in England.


3,600 grooves have been discovered on Gotland,[2] of which 700 are in limestone outcrops, while the remainder are on c. 800 boulders and slabs. The grooves are 50–100 cm long, c. 10 cm deep and c. 10 cm wide.[3] The grooves have apparently been made with an abrasive pendulum measuring c. 192–283 cm in length.[4]

The grooves began to attract scholarly attention in the 1850s. At first they were called "sharpening stones", but later they received the name "sword sharpening stones". After some time, newspapers and scholarly publications began to dispute this, since the shape of the grooves makes them unfit for sharpening swords. Another reason was that by 1933, more than 500 sites with grooves had been identified on Gotland. They were evenly distributed across the island. It was also noted that they ran in different directions and often crossed each other.

The dates and function of the grooves on Gotland have seen debate in recent decades between archaeologists who argue for a High Medieval date and some industrial function,[5][6] and proponents of an alternative theory who argue for a Neolithic date and a ritual calendar function. The latter support their view mainly with the idea that the direction of each groove might be given an astronomical interpretation, where each groove would mark a sightline towards a certain celestial phenomenon that may be reconstructed for a certain year during the Stone Age.[3] The grooves under overhangs in Scania cannot have been used as sightlines in this suggested manner.

Certain late 1st-millennium picture stones on Gotland carry grooves that have been made after the relief of the stones was carved, which show the grooves to be late. Likewise with the level above current sea surface of the lowest grooved outcrops on the island, that shows them to be no older than AD 1000 judging from post-glacial shoreline displacement.[7] It has been suggested that on one picture stone, part of the Late Iron Age decoration is carved into the bottom of a groove, meaning that this groove must be older than the picture.[8]


  1. ^ Torsten Mårtensson: Sliprännornas praktiska bruk.
  2. ^ Gannholm, Sören. The Gotlandic grinding grooves – Stone age calendars? Gotlands slipskåror, Sören Gannholm 1993. ISBN 91-630-1845-4
  3. ^ a b Henriksson, Göran (1983). "Astronomisk tolkning av slipskåror på Gotland".  
  4. ^ Henriksson, Göran. 2000. The grooves on the island of Gotland in the Baltic sea: a neolithic lunar calendar. Paper presented at "Astronomy of Ancient Civilizations", 8th SEAC Conference, Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences. Eds T. Potemkina & V. Obridko. Moscow. ISBN 5-02-008768-8.
  5. ^ Swanström, Lennart. 1995. Slipskåror och järnhantering på Gotland. Gotländskt arkiv 67. Visby. pp. 11–18
  6. ^ Lindström, Jonathan. 1997. Fornlämningarnas orientering på Gotland: en kritisk granskning av den arkeoastronomiska tolkningen av slipskåror samt en studie av riktningsfördelningen hos öns forntida gravar, hus och medeltida kyrkor. Till Gunborg. Dept of Archaeology, University of Stockholm. pp. 497–508.
  7. ^ Munthe, Henr. Om Gotlands s.k. Svärdslipningsstenar "YMER 1933. H 2-3
  8. ^ Henriksson, Göran. "Nya undersökningar av bildstenen från Othemars i Othem" Gotländskt Arkiv 1988.

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.