Kivikgraven from the south. Photo: Lars Bergström / Riksantikvarieämet

Kiviksgraven, "Kungagraven", Bredarör, is a 3400 year old grave on Österlen in Södra Mellby parish, Skåne. With its enormous 75 m diameter, it is considered to be the largest burial pit in the Nordic countries and was built around 1400 BC during the Early Bronze Age.

Kivikgraven is the only Bronze Age burial cave in the Nordic countries with a rock coffin covered with petroglyphs. Results from archaeological excavations show that the rock coffin itself was built around 1400 BC, but that the history of the area goes back further than that. For thousands of years before the tomb was built, people lived on the site. Some of them are certainly among the ancestors of the present-day Kivlings. Yes, that's their name, the Kiviks.

The grave contains a stone coffin that is similar to many other stone coffins around the Nordic countries. But there is one thing that distinguishes the King's Grave in Kivik, and that is the coffin's richly decorated stone mounds. The sides of the slabs depict people, ships, animals and symbols such as the solar cross, which is thought to have had great significance for our ancestors here in the Nordic countries.

Kiviksgraven petroglyphs
Photo: Christopher Käck
Wide pipe stone coffin
Photo: Bengt A. Lundberg / Riksantikvarieämbetet

The tomb gives a powerful impression today, especially from the air. But it hasn't always looked like this. For a long time, the cairn served as a quarry for the local population. It would take more than 3,000 years, but by 1750 the local people had hauled away so much stone that they finally made their way down to the tomb's centre. Respect for the fathers, then, does not seem to have been a distinguishing feature of our fathers in recent centuries.

Kiviksgraven 1933
The condition of the grave in 1933. Photo: Gustaf Hallström / Riksantikvarieämbetet

One day in 1748, two men are said to have discovered the stone chest. Word quickly spread through the village that they had plundered the tomb of a great treasure. They were charged with theft, but are said to have been released for lack of evidence.

Fast forward two centuries to the 1930s, when archaeological investigations were carried out on the tomb. It was during this decade that the tomb acquired its present appearance. The cairn was reconstructed based on how it was depicted on old copper engravings, and a passage was opened into the once hidden burial chamber so that visitors could view the beautiful stone mounds.

The King's tomb in Kivik
The new entrance leading visitors to the stone coffin. Photo: Christopher Käck

It has not been possible to confirm whether a king is buried in the King's Tomb in Kivik. However, the a relatively recent archaeological survey presented in Fornvännen in 2005 analysed skeletal remains found inside and outside the coffin. The conclusion is that at least four people, most of them in their teens, were buried in the grave over a period of several hundred years during the Early Bronze Age.

The burial ground of Ängakås

If you're passing by Kivik, don't miss the Ängakåsen burial ground, which is located about 500 metres southeast of Kivik's grave. The Bronze Age burial ground consists of more than 130 archaeological remains, including a burial mound, around 130 stone settlements, a ship settlement and a bowl pit. A prehistoric road leads from the burial ground down to the sea.

The burial ground of Ängakås
Ship settlement at the Ängakåsen burial ground. Photo: Jorchr (CC BY-SA)

Getting there

Kiviksgraven is located just outside Kivik in Skåne. Signs are located along Route 9. There is a large parking lot adjacent to the grave. Kiviksgraven and the nearby Ängakåsen burial ground can be visited all year round, but the burial chamber itself is open daily from 15 May to 31 August.

Kiviksgraven, Bredarörsvägen, Kivik, Sweden

Coordinates: Latitude 55.68267039999999 | Longitude 14.233945199999994

Discover more interesting places to visit at History map.

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