Stone, Bronze and Ironage
Small settlements were built by the coast line, which at that time was situated 30-50 meters higher than today, due to the land raising.
For 9000 years ago, the first immigrants came to Gotland.
Several Stone age settlements are known and many of them has been excavated. Stora Karlsö, Visby, Västergarn and Ajvide south of Klintehamn, also in Ihre and Bjers in the north and finally Suderkvie in the south, which was surrounded by open sea. In the centre of Gotland the oldest settlement, Mölner Gullarve, is located, over 7 000 years old.
The wealth of prehistoric finds, especially organic ones as bones, has its explanation in the lime enriched soil, which has preserved many almost intact. Other finds are axes of flint, arrows, ceramic pieces, carbon, fish hooks and fish rests.
Animal species which have never existed on the island are wolf and elk. However we have a special type of horse called "Russ" (in size of a smaller pony) which still graces in herds on the moors of Lojsta in the centre of Gotland. The domestic sheep (Gotlandsfår) with round big horns is the oldest sheep breed in Sweden. Both those breeds were probably domesticated during the Stone age.
From this period you can find approx 350 stone constructions formed like ships - so called ship-settings, and a hundred cairns. The archaeologists have found traces from settlements and several artifacts from this period which seems to have been an era when people lived a rich life, probably due to the mild climate.
Many traces witness of an active Iron age period on Gotland. Prehistoric fortifications, burial grounds and settlement foundations.
The most well preserved fortress is called Torsburgen in the south of Gotland, comprising an area of 1.15 square kilometers. However it can be difficult to locate as it was built in in its natural environment.
Ore was imported from the mainland of Sweden and refined to iron on Gotland. During the later period of the Iron age the commerce probably increased. Gotland became one of the most important transit harbours of the Baltic Sea. Archaeologists have found many coins from Persia, Germany and Great Britain. Their existence tells us important facts about contemporary Gotland.
Treasure & Vikings
Gotland is often referred to as "The World´s Treasury". Over 145 000 coins have been found in Gotland, a fact that makes the island to one of the worlds most important places in prehistoric finds. Artifacts of gold and silver, dating iron age, are also common. Many of the treasures you can see in the Gold Room in the National Historical Museum of Stockholm are originating from Gotland.
The world´s largest ever found silver treasure dating Viking Age was found on northern Gotland at Spillings in 1999. It weight over 80 kilos!
The picture stones witness about the rich period of the island, they can be seen at the museums of Visby, (Fornsalen) and Bunge museum in Fåröund. Between the 5th and the 11th centuries, many picture stones where made in Gotland - unlike on the mainland of Sweden, where there is more rune stones. However, one of Sweden's oldest runes was found on a spear edge from Stenkyrka on Gotland, with the engraving: gaois (or sioag), dating as early as the 3rd century.
Gotland is also a place with several grave fields from this period of which many still can be seen.
During the years of 800 and 1050 (probably both earlier and later) the "Vikings" of Gotland established merchant relations with remote destinations all over Europe, in what will become Russia and the Baltics, all the way to Asia and the Arab regions in the east. This has its testimony in the many coins and artifacts from theese regions found on Gotland, and also the remainings of as many as 50 possible merchant- and transit harbours around Gotland's coastline.