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Skalunda Barrow was probably once the largest burial mound in Sweden, but its profile has been severely distorted by attempted excavations and a local farmer's need of a root cellar.
According to local legend, the mound and its environs is haunted by the spectre of a certain king Racke - a Viking Age chieftain who amassed considerable wealth in Viking in eastern lands. Even in death he is jealously guarding the hoard of treasure buried in his mound from any intruder ... but once, at midnight every hundredth Maundy Thursday (skärtorsdag) the grave opens up, revealing the treasure within.
We do not know if it really is the petty king Racke who is buried in the great barrow, but much points to the buried person or persons having been important in Geatish lands. As a common interpretation of Beowulf's origin is that he was from Västergötland (him being thane among the Geatas and all that), some have even speculated that this could be the last resting place for one of the greatest heroes of Anglosaxon literature (which should, of course, be taken with a humongous grain of salt) .
But why should it even be an important man (or woman) who is buried here? Well, old sources proclaim that the lowborn but honourable should be buried under raised stones, while the noble people, the chieftains and kings with divine heritage, are to be buried under great mounds. Such a source is Snorri Sturlason's Heimskringla from the 13th century - the chronicle of ancient Nordic kings. It mentions the aforementioned burial customs and adds that the dead were burned before burial during olden days, and the higher the smoke travelled, the higher the gods' regard of the deceased. Snorri was first and foremost a storyteller and not a scientist, but his Edda and Heimskringla are among the most frequently cited sources of knowledge about ancient Norse culture.
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