The Tisselskog Rock Carvings – What do they Tell Us

One day in April we paid a visit to Tommy Andersson. Tommy lives at Högsbyn in Tisselskog. Exactly here, you find the largest field of rock carvings in Dalsland. And Tommy is an archeologist and an expert on rock carvings. Earlier we have taken part in the guided excursions that he organizes in the area.

Inspired discussion

When we discuss the question what function those rock carvings may have had and what they may represent, Tommy is clear about one thing. Our knowledge is restricted. The carvings here in Tisselskog are about 2500 to 3000 years old, and it is difficult to know what the societies here were like at that time. A basic notion, he says, is that if they have carved pictures of feet, then this is a place where people have come on foot or that they have set foot here after arriving in their boats. If they have carved a picture of a procession with boats or wagons, then this is a place where such processions have taken place. They have drawn what they have seen and done here.

Those people 2500 years ago had small feet

And there are pictures of feet, and there are pictures of processions, so it is quite in order to surmise that this is a place where people have gathered at special occasions for some reason, unknown to us. If we try to say more that that, then we are speculating. And we agree that speculation is permitted and even necessary in developing what we know. Permitted and necessary as long as we’re making it clear that we’re speculating.

After the conversation, we left Tommy who was having another visit this day. We took a walk on our own among the rock carvings. It was exciting to let loose the flow of our imagination as we saw the traces left by people who had used to gather here thousands of years ago.

Three thousand years ago, according to historicist Hans H Lundqvist, there were already well established logistics for trade in which Dalsland was a link in a long chain of exchange of goods and cultural influences. This may be well informed speculation. Lundqvist claims to have found signs suggesting that very early on Dalsland was part of the so called Silk way which connected Asia and Europe even in the earliest historic time.

A procession

Whether this is true or not may be difficult to prove with any exactitude, but it is clear that people used to gather here in what we call Dalsland now, and maybe some of them had traveled far. And it is clear that they not only gathered to do whatever they came here to do. They also had the will and the knowhow to let posterity know they had been here.

That’s how some of our thoughts went this day when we visited the archeologist Tommy Andersson and the rock carvings at Högsbyn in the village with the poetic name that means ”the forest of whisperings” – Tisselskog.