During the last twenty years, the category ‘grave’ has been the subject
of increasing debate in Swedish archaeology. It has been recognized
that monuments commonly regarded as graves are sometimes also
found in cultic contexts other than those associated with death and
burial. In many cases, for instance, monuments similar to graves have
been erected at cult sites, and seem to have been used in sacriicial
practices rather than for burials. According to archeological, textual
and onomastic sources, it was common practice in Old Norse religion
to suspend sacriicial victims from trees or from upraised posts, or
to deposit oferings at the base of sacred rocks and boulders. In all
these cases, the trees, posts and boulders seem to be representations
of the World Axis, depicted in cosmological myths as a Cosmic Tree,
Pillar or Mountain. I argue that these various representations of the
World Axis are also incorporated in the architectonic symbolism of
several forms of grave monuments in pre-Christian Scandinavia.
The architectonic shape of these monuments could thus be used in
several diferent contexts, since they represented a ‘Cosmic Center’
and a ‘doorway’ to the Other World.
The Finnish Society for the Study of Religion. Temenos Vol. 45 No. 1 (2009), 35-63.