At the Stone Age site of Vasagard in Denmark, archaeologists have discovered 300 intricately carved sunstones, and these rocks have long intrigued archaeologists ever since they initially found the first of these mysterious artifacts. Vasagard can be found on the island of Bornholm just south of Sweden in the Baltic Sea and was inhabited in Neolithic times from approximately 3,500 to 2,700 BC.
The first sunstone to be recovered was found in 1995 in the neighboring settlement of Rispebjerk and these 5,000-year-old rocks have carvings on them that resemble various pictures like waving fields of grain and spiderwebs. Yet whatever their design, they all appear to have lines that gently edge out from their center, much like the rays of the sun.
The Stone Age sunstones in Denmark are also generally quite small and their shape is reported by archaeologists to be similar to that of a disc, and it is surmised from their extremely worn look that they were probably handled frequently and may even have been placed inside the pockets of clothing belonging to their previous owners, as Bornholm Museum’s Finn Ole Sonne Nielsen explained.
“Many of the stones are very worn, so it looks as though someone has walked around with them in their pocket.”
Archaeologists note that the various entrances to Vasagard match up perfectly with the sun during the time of each solstice, and this alignment has led them to theorize that the site may have been used in much the same way as Stonehenge was, according to ScienceAlert. But does this mean that the sunstones found in this area would have been used exclusively for this purpose?
As Lars Larsson from the University of Lund attests, it would be virtually impossible at this point in time to pinpoint their exact use.
“That is the million-dollar question. It is impossible to know precisely what they were used for.”
However, there are some clues that might help archaeologists to determine what some of their uses may have been. For instance, some of the Stone Age sunstones were found to have been burned and broken, leading researchers to speculate that this indicates they may have been used for some sort of funerary ceremonies. As so many of these sunstones also happen to have been found inside of old ditches which acted as burial mounds, this hypothesis certainly has its merits.
On the other hand, these sunstones could also have been used as a form of currency in which Neolithic people would have used the rocks to gain access to the special temple at Vasagard. Alternatively, the sunstones may look worn because they were once used as a sort of personal protective charm. There has even been speculation that these little rocks were constructed as rudimentary maps.
Most archaeologists are of the opinion that these sunstones were probably used for a variety of purposes, one of which may have included a magic ritual conducted in exchange for the promise of a successful future harvest, as the National Museum of Denmark’s Flemming Paul suggested.
“I imagine that at a certain time of the year you had some magic rituals where you held a sun stone and let them pass over the stones, which by all accounts depict fields. The new stone opens up an entirely different understanding of the Stone Age worship of deities.”
With so many different theories about the uses of these Stone Age sunstones in Vasagard in Denmark and elsewhere, archaeologists are still busy trying to unravel the mystery of these ancient rocks and the meaning they would have once had in Neolithic society.