Galgberget Gallows and the dark history of ancient columns (9 photos)

16 May 2024

Sweden itself is a harsh country. But even against the backdrop of its history and landscapes, this place looks especially fascinating and gloomy.

A trio of stone pillars on Gallow Hill, a nature reserve north of Visby, claims to be the only surviving medieval execution site in Europe.

Rising atop a small hill in the Swedish municipality of Visby, Galgberget Gallows is an eerie but historically significant site. Because it is one of the few surviving from the Middle Ages.

The gallows were built around the 13th century for local criminals. Tall stone pillars surrounded by a low stone wall supported wooden beams. The condemned were hung on ropes and hooks. The site of the brutal massacre was set up on a hilltop so that the gallows was visible from the sea and warned visitors and locals returning home of the only possible consequences of criminal behavior in the area.

During archaeological excavations, the bodies of about 30 people were discovered near the gallows. All of them were executed. Some of the bodies were even in full-size wooden coffins, which was a luxury compared to the rest. We must assume that these bodies belonged to representatives of the upper class. Which indicates that not only robbers, the poor, vagabonds and beggars were executed here.

Researchers believe that gallows were used until 1845. Even despite such a long history of murders, today they serve as both a material and mystical-ghostly reminder of what happened before. However, almost all locals and tourists consider Galgberget Gallows only as a component of the reserve and an interesting atmospheric place for walks in nature, covered with a light flair of antiquity.

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