I thought a few people might like to see why I didn't get my book finished on the weekend: Daughter and grandma dragged me off on a bike ride to go visit this: The first picture is a runestone, standing right on the side of the road just outside the ship. I forgot to write down the exact translation but it is basically "These three guys raised this stone in honour of their friend, the fourth guy", except with names. The second is a viking grave, with standing stones (they're about chest height on me) arranged in the shape of a ship. Whoever was buried there was probably very important.
These are both at Åsa Gravefield, out on the island (Selaön) very close to where I live, although it's one of those things you live right by and see all the time and never get around to taking photos. Behind where I was standing to take the pic of the ship arrangement, there's a huge graveyard with 30 odd burial mounds and maybe 100 standing stones. Of course I forgot to take a pic of *that* either (although, after a thousand years, it looks very like a hillside with some bumps and lots of rocks.) I will try to remember to take a picture of it in the spring though, because it's been preserved carefully for several hundred years, and it's a riot of plants and wildflowers in the spring, some of which are close to extinct anywhere else.
Following that one road, there are 20 actual runestones along a 10km stretch and several more nearby, which is I think the most concentrated patch of them left in the country (for those who have forgotten, or don't know, we're one island over from Birka, the original Swedish viking capital, and this area has been settled since at least the bronze age - for someone like me, who can trace written history from my home country only 160 years, and with my maori tradition tracing settlement back only 8-900 years, the idea that people have lived right here for thousands of years is really quite astounding. The fact all this history is on display, and virtually untouched right where it's always stood, even more so.
(ETA: That works a lot better if I ATTACH THE PICTURES doh.)