[I'm back in the UK, but my mind is still on Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic]
According to the Guta Saga, the ancient tale of the origins of the place,
Gotland was first discovered by a man called Tjelvar. Then, Gotland was so bewitched that it sank beneath the waves by day and rose again at night. This man, however, was the first to bring fire to the island, and afterwards it never sank again.
As Gotland is a solid—if small—island, that’s some powerful bewitchery going on. In fact, “Gotland” is not only the name of one island; it’s also the name of the whole province including a few smaller islands, only one of which is inhabited enough so’s you’d notice. This is the first post of three or so that make up something of a photo safari through the remarkable stones—natural or erected—of the island of Gotland and of that smaller island, sometimes called its ‘sister island’, Fårö.
The most famous of the stones of Fårö (pronounced something like FAW-roo) are the rauks (pronounced, um, pretty much like rocks) which were left behind on the west cost of the island when the glaciers of the last ice age retreated.
Now, if these stones look familiar, it’s likely that you’ve been to a Bergman film; Ingmar Bergman lived on Fårö and used it as a backdrop more than once. (Visitors can stop in at the Bergman Center to see exhibitions and learn more about Bergman and Fårö, though it was closed for renovation when I was there.)
A Victorian-era lighthouse and…
an unexpected, unsignposted labrynth rounded out the day on Fårö, where the most interesting stones were posed by nature; on Gotland itself, the stones arranged by humans were more interesting, starting with the Bronze Age, boat-shaped, burials.
Which I’ll tell you about in the next post (if the island I’m on doesn’t sink beneath the waves in the meantime).