Unique farming landscape
Karum in central Öland is a unique agricultural landscape with traces from many different periods going back to the Iron Age. The famous and popular Noah’s ark stone ship is located on Karum’s Alvar, one of only a few such alvar areas in central Öland.
Fascinating burial sites
The sheep-grazed burial sites on Karum’s Alvar are fascinating in all seasons. In spring the slopes of the old burial pits are coloured in yellow, purple and white flowering cowslips, early purple orchids and meadow saxifrage. In summer, the silky spike melic’s ornate silver panicles sway over the countryside and spring azure butterflies flutter gracefully over thyme tussocks. On dry late summer days almost the only thing that is green is the poisonous swallow-wort that is left in clumps by the grazing sheep. And in the autumn the raised stones stand silently and secretively in the morning mists and one almost feels like one has been transported back in time to ancient Öland.
Old agricultural landscape
The land on the Karum has been inhabited for over 2,000 years. Building foundations, remains of enclosures and graves from the early Iron Age show continuity in land use going back a long time. Today’s agricultural landscape is archaic and small-scale, and contains a mixture of small fields, limestone alvar areas and deciduous forests on former hay meadows. Developments in Karum can be traced using well-preserved map material extending back to the 1600s.
Old arable weeds
One of the aims of the nature reserve in Karum is to recreate an older type of farmland. Thirty hectares of arable land is cultivated using a crop rotation system, which means that rye is grown in one year, six-rowed barley the next year and then the fields lie fallow in year three. Thanks to the older agricultural style and the management of the seeds, rare arable weeds such as corncockle and rye brome are preserved. Older crops such as Gotland rye, Öland oats and Östergötland six-rowed barley are grown in the fields.
High ecological value
Karum provides a home for a number of interesting plants and animals. For example, proliferous pink, jagged chickweed and breckland speedwell grow at the burial site around Noah’s Ark. And many rare insects have been found on the actual alvar, such as spider wasps and narrow-bordered five-spot burnet. Efforts to restore hay meadows on Karum are ongoing. These provide a habitat for military orchids, burnt orchids, saw-worts and leafless hawk’s-beard.
Size: 315.7 ha, (316 acres)
Year of creation: 2006
Purpose: To recreate the nature and culture typical of areas of older agriculture and to preserve central Öland’s typical as well as endangered plant and animal species. The area is part of Natura 2000, the EU’s ecological network of protected areas.
From route 136 in Rälla, drive towards Högsrum. Then turn towards Gärdslösa where the road forks. After about 1 km you will see the burial ground on Karum’s Alvar. There is car parking here which provides the opportunity to visit the burial ground and the alvar areas. After another 1 km turn left towards the village – signposted to Karum. Parking is on the left-hand side before the village.
GPS coordinates to the parking lot WGS 84 decimal (lat, long): 56.78651 , 16.64528
Map: Naturcentrum AB, Stenungsund.
Download: the County administrative boards brochure over (in Swedish only) (370 kB): Karum
Download: the entire brochure (in Swedish only) (19 MB): Utflyktsguide Öland
© Lantmäteriverket, Ur Geografiska Sverigedata, översiktskartan Dnr. 106-2004/188”
Source: County Administrative Board, Kalmar