The Royal estate to Birka

For more than 600 years, Hovgården on Adelsö was a royal estate, throughout the Viking Age and into the Middle Ages.

On a hill by the water with a view over the bay and away towards Birka, the kings had their large buildings, throughout the Viking Age and into the Middle Ages, for more than 600 years. During the Viking Age it was a large hall building with room for many guests, during the Middle Ages the castle Alsnöhus was built.

(During the Viking Age, the shoreline was 5 meters higher on land than today. The map above shows the Viking Age shoreline with these blue marks - - -)

Today, only small parts of the castle ruin are visible above ground, but below the surface the basement is preserved.

The basement is built of brick and does not withstand moisture and frost, so after the great excavation in 1916, it was filled with soil to be protected and preserved for the future.


The king's runestone

The large runestone is still on the quay at the entrance to the Viking-era harbor. The harbor is today drained due to the land uplift.

The front of the runestone is directed towards the boats and ships that were on their way into the harbor.

The runic inscription
tells of the king's courtier Tolir and his wife Gyla but also of King Hakon himself who ruled here around 1070.

Today, the runestone is only painted in the carvings, but when it was new it had many colors. Then it was easy to see how the dragon and the snakes were bound together on the surface of the stone.

In the Runestone Park you can see what it looked like when it was new, with colors.

There are also runestones in the church

Adelsö church is from the 12th century and there are two more runestones. They are walled in the sacristy wall and difficult to see because it is usually locked.

A third rune stone was destroyed when the armory burned down a long time ago, but the runic inscription had time to be documented.

The rune stones in the sacristy. The right one is walled up and down. In the Runestone Park, it is upright and has regained its colors.

You can see all runestones from Hovgården and more in the Runestone Park. There, the rune stones are depicted in natural size and with colors as 1000 years ago. In the Runestone Park you can also buy guide booklet for Birka and Hovgården.

The large royal mounds north of the church impress in the landscape. The largest burial mound is 46 meters in diameter and 6.5 meters high.

None of the royal mounds have been excavated.


A little north of the royal mounds is the burial mound called Skopintull, a large and rich tomb from the 10th century. It was excavated in 1917 and the many and unusual objects found then could be seen for a long time at the Historical Museum in Stockholm in its own stand.


(West of Hovgården, left edge of the map)

1500 years ago when the water level was about 7 meters higher on land than today, Adelsö was divided in the middle due to the high water. Hovgårdsberg then came to lie on a headland in the south with the strait below.

One of Hovgårdsberg's burial grounds is from the 6th century, which consists of many low and beautiful rock formations. Today these are difficult to discern in the landscape.

In 1950, they dug for a new house foundation in Hovgårdsberg and then happened to end up in the middle of a grave. In the burned grave was found this buckle that belonged to a woman's costume.

What else is in Hovgården?

In addition to the well-visited café next to the church and the royal mounds, there is also a swimming and rest area directly north of the World Heritage Site.

Directly north of that site is Alsnu gård.

Alsnu gård is a free reconstruction of a Viking age farm in a beautiful and undisturbed place. Here you can see what a Viking-era house of 13 meters looked like.

Guide or guide booklet?

A guided tour of Hovgården takes about an hour.

Price: 1,500 SEK. 10 participants included.
Extra participants (in addition to the 10 included) SEK 100 per person).

Bus group: 3,500 SEK. (max 50 participants).

Guide booklet

If you want to experience Hovgården on your own, I recommend my detailed guide booklet, which can be pre-ordered or purchased directly in the Runestone Park.

Price: 50 SEK each.
There is one booklet for Birka and one for Hovgården.

Booking and ordering

e-mail: kalle@runristare.se

Phone: +46 70-776 48 22


- Cash
- Swish: 0707764822
- Paypal: kalle@runristare.se


External links

Kalle Runristare >
Me and my craft as a runestone carver.

Facebook >
My Facebook page

Runstensparken >
My runestone park where old runestones are shown as new

UNESCO - Birka and Hovgården >
World Heritage Convention

Birka the viking city >
Information om restaurang, museum och evenemang på Birka.