Old Uppsala before Old Uppsala

Far from the sea – still central

Possibly, the first visitors arrived as early as during the Stone Age. All that was visible then was a terminal moraine, a low ridge rising out of a large straight of water. Here the Royal mounds were built much later.

Through shore displacement the water receded more and more, but many waterways remained, enabling travel in all directions So despite the fact that Old Uppsala was not situated by the coast, it could be reached by boat.

Also, from the Iron Age onwards a vast road network emerged.

The site was easily defended and the clay soils surrounding it were very fertile – in other words an attractive location.

During the Late Bronze Age there was a permanent settlement here. On the field barley, wheat and oats grew, and livestock provided meat, milk, wool and leather.

Visible hierarchy

During the Roman Iron Age (0-400 AD) traces have been found of substantial settlements, at least in the valley of the River Samnan, a small tributary of the larger River Fyris.

Already at this point, a hierarchy is visible. Those with power and means had exclusive houses built, preferably on elevated terrain or terraces, so they would be visible from afar.

Others not as affluent settled further downhill in smaller houses.

Settlements move

From the 4th century the settlement pattern started to change and around 600 AD many of  the old farms had been abandoned.

This is not a unique to Old Uppsala, but a process that has been observed all across the lake Mälaren basin.

At this time the area around the present day church was populated, as well as the rest of what would be known as Old Uppsala village. This vast settlement came to exist from the 6th to the 16th century, and during the middle ages this was the largest village in Uppland.

Read on about The Royal Mounds