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Sweden    Umeň, Norrfors EuroPreArt - European Prehistoric Art

Sweden Image map
Keywords: Copper Age, Rock art, Carving, Elks, Life-lines, Contour-carved, River, Naturalistic, Worship.
Institution: Gotland University College, Visby, Sweden.
Gotland University - Sweden
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Map over Northern Sweden, the Norrfors locality marked out (Baudou 1995:81).
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Copyright. No commercial use of EuroPreArt content is allowed. Specific © for pictures and drawings is mentioned in the captions or owned by each Author or Institution.
Disclaim. The EuroPreArt project fully endorses the most recent documentation policies. It must be outlined the absolute forbidding of any disruptive method and the necessity of a total respect for archaeological sites. It is also to be noticed that no substances shall be applied to rock art for recording purposes. Some pictures of the EuroPreArt records are related to past recording techniques and may not fully match these policies. They are an historical documentation. Please refer to local archaeological official authorities for any recording purpose. Please take a look also over EuroPreArt guidelines.
Environment & Surface


52 m
Open-air   Shelter   Cave Portable   Megalithic

Situated on a small island, 17 x 12 m in size, at Norrfors in the Umeň river.


In the middle of river, possible place for a settlement at the southern bed of the river.




6 panels, 4 major and 2 minor. Sloping surface, glacial stration.


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Engravings   Paintings   Painted engravings   High or low-relief   Sculpture
Norrfors, Umeň parish. The locality is situated at a small island in the Umeň river, the island is only 17 x 12 m. The total number of figures are 60, and there are 6 panels. The dominating figure is the elk with 28 depictions, contour-carved and are depicted with heart, ribs and so called "life-lines" indicated. Panel 1: There are 4 ship figures, of which 3 have vertical lines, frame, and 1 is very fragmentary with a stylised elks-head in the prow. There are 8 elks, different in style often superimposed, and 2 human figures. Panel 2: 2 elks, simple in style turned with the backs opposite each other. One has a spear-like line through the shoulder in the body. Panel 3: 4 distinct elks organised in some kind of composition, the images are very complicated and gives an impression of verve and spirit, an unusual feature at Norrfors. There are also a number of obscure figures. Panel 4: 11 elks, 1 human figure, 1 bird and 1 wheel cross arranged in a uniting way. All the elks are depicted with heads turned in the same direction except one. One superimposition, the wheel cross touches one of the elks. Panel 5 & 6: 1 resp. 2 figures depicted separated from the other panels.

total number 60
28 elks 5 ship figures 2 human figures 1 bird 1 wheel cross 20 obscure, weathered figures.


Palaeolithic   Epipalaeolithic - Mesolithic   Neolithic   Copper Age   Bronze Age   Iron Age   Roman   Middle Age   Modern   Unknown
The carvings at Norrfors are situated 52-54 m a s, which according to the elevation of the land gives a date of not older than 2100 BC, probably 2000 BC. This date corresponds to the dating at Alta in Norway. The majority of the Norrfors carvings belong to the hunter-gatherer tradition.


All rock carvings at Norrfors belong to the hunter-gatherer tradition, and can be dated to c. 2000 BC. It is suggested that the carvings were made in the summer and the paintings in the area in the winter. The elk is thought to have been the crucial winter pray, and the carvings depicting these animals were created in rituals aimed at preparing for survival and successful hunting during the hard winter season in interior of Northern Sweden.

European total bibliography, by EuroPreArt partnersTotal (Europe)
Sweden EuroPreArt general bibliography, by Gotland University College, Visby, Sweden.General (country)
Specific Umeň, Norrfors bibliography, by Gotland University College, Visby, Sweden.Specific (site)
Rock Art Studies: A Bibliographic worldwide Database (external link). Compiled by Leigh Marymor. Copyright (C) 2001-2002 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley Bibliographic
Rock Art


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Public   Private   Park   Classified site


The major risk for carvings are chemical weathering, which makes the hard quartzite losen up and fall out, leaving white dots on the darker rock surface. Also natural weathering (mechanical weathering) during winter/spring, when water freeze in cracks and openings in the rock, creates major damage to rock faces with carvings. The biological weathering is also a danger to the rock carvings, and even to intense cleaning of the rock surface during documentation can make the rock fragile and expose the carvings to wind, water and air-born pollution.


Good   Quite good   Mediocre   Bad


Problems concerning conservation and preservation, registration and documentation of rock carvings in Scandinavia are discussed by several departments, i.e. Riksantikvaren in Norway, Riksantikvarieńmbetet in Sweden, several universities and research departments. Different methods are tested, for example covering of carved surfaces, measuring of temperature and different contents in water and air and also the composition in the granite. Hollows and cracks in the rock surface can be repaired and carefully filled in. The carvings have been painted.




Li Winter 2001.


Gotland University College, Visby, Sweden.
         Record n. 799 / 807
No commercial use is allowed. Specific ę is mentioned in the captions or owned by each Author or Institution  
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NEW: Alpine rock paintings
enter the Balma dei Cervi Virtual Museum and surf the Virtual Tour: spherical pano-views,
hi-def flat photos and tracings

EuroPreArt, European Prehistoric Art, is a web-based archaeological project funded by the European Union which aims to establish a lasting data-base of European prehistoric art documentation, to launch the base of an European institutional network and to contribute to the awareness of the diversity and richness of European Prehistoric Art.
It is proposed by: Instituto PolitÚcnico de Tomar (IPT, Portugal), CUEBC - European University Centre for Cultural Heritage (Italy - Europe), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones CientÝficas (España), Asociaciˇn Cultural Colectivo Barbaˇn (España), Université de Liège (Belgique), Gotland University College (Sverige), University College Dublin (Eire), Cooperativa Archeologica Le Orme dell'Uomo (Italia), Study Centre and Museum of Prehistoric Art of Pinerolo (Italia), The European Centre for Prehistoric Research in the Alto Ribatejo (Portugal), ArqueoJovem - a youth NGO (Portugal).
Instituto PolitÚcnico de Tomar - Portugal CUEBC - European University Centre for Cultural Heritage, Ravello - Italy CSIC - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones CientÝficas, Madrid - Spain Orme dell'Uomo - Footsteps of Man, Valcamonica - Italy Asociaciˇn Cultural Colectivo Barbaˇn, Extremadura -Spain Liège University - Belgium Gotland University - Sweden University College Dublin - Ireland CeSMAP - Centro Studi e Museo d'Arte Preistorica. Pinerolo, Italy Arqueo Jovem

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