Cup Stones

Posted On September 12, 2010

Filed under history, ritual

Comments Dropped 4 responses

There are several interesting Iron Age sites within walking distance of where I live. One of these that I want to talk about are cup stones. These are, as you may guess, stones that have cup-shaped marks carved into them. These kinds of stones have been found in various parts of the world, but Northern Europe(Scandinavia, Northern Germany, Finland, and Estonia) is home to the most. The number of cup marks on the stones can vary. In an article by Andres Tvauri, he says that in Finland, 16% of the stones have one cup, 11% have two, 7% have three, and those with up to ten make up the majority with 67%. Then there are two stones in Häme that have over one hundred (Tvauri 120-125).

The main purpose of these stones was for a sacrificial site, and they were used in a variety of circumstances. One of the things that is notable about them is that most of these stones are situated in Southern Finland, near agricultural sites. Offerings of milk and grain were placed in the cups in order to secure a successful harvest. Another area that they tended to be near were grave sites. The cups symbolized a passageway for the dead to travel to the underworld, so offerings were given to ancestors there. Other uses were as a place to seek relief from pain.

Cup stones can still be used in the same way today. Awhile ago I came across a couple of them along a path near where I live, and they have such a powerful feeling about them. If you ever come to Finland, you can visit one and make a little offering in it.

Works Cited

Tvauri, Andres. “Cup-Marked Stones in Estonia.” Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore. 11(1999): 113-169.


4 Responses to “Cup Stones”

    • Christine

      Yes, I saw that posting of yours over the summer, and joined the causes link you had. Is there any update on it?

  1. Malitsu

    Unfortunately there is. The stone was moved in September 27. Taivaannaula is trying to collect a petition for better protection of Finland’s remaining sacred places but it hasn’t got too many signers.

    • Christine

      That’s too bad. I signed the petition, or at least I think I did it right.

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