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The rock carvings at Fossum

Fossum is a visitor area located in the northeast corner of the Tanum World Heritage Site. In the area, there are two large and two smaller rock carvings to visit. The first panel is a compact carving with many images engraved on a small surface. All the images are very similar in style and execution; all the boats look the same, and the people all seem to be cast in the same mould. The characteristic axes that many of the figures are holding can be found from both the beginning and the end of the Bronze Age, but the design of the ships indicates that the carvings were made during the later period when rock carvings were made in Tanum.

The main panel at Fossum from above. Photo: Hans Lundenmark and Lars Strid, Vitlycke museum.

From the Fossum panel, a 200-meter path leads to the site called Balken, with two smaller carvings along the way. The images on Balken are not filled with colour, so a visit in the afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky can make it easier to see the motifs. The slanting sun rays cast shadows on the carvings, and the images appear beautifully on the rock.

The most famous motif on Balken is the so-called Sun Horse. The carving consists of a horse with a large round disc attached to its mane. As the name suggests, the most common interpretation is that it is an image showing how a horse pulls the sun across the sky. The panel also features images of ships, humans, trees, and other animals.

How to get to Fossum

The parking area is located on road 163, 1.5 kilometres southeast of the Underslös Museum. Cross the road to reach the rock carvings, then follow the path. All panels have informational signs, and the path is equipped with stairs for improved accessibility.

The rock carvings at Fossum at Google Maps.

Night time photo of the so-called Sun horse at the Balken site. Photo: Hans Lundenmark, Vitlycke museum.