Monument to lost species: the Disas Ting life-cairn

Life-cairns have become fairly commonplace across Europe, but the one at Disas Ting is arguably among the first.

If you are travelling by bus or bike along the old Highway 9 route, on the coast to the west of Ystad, you might notice a strange stone mound stood between the bikepath and the Baltic Sea beyond. Co-located with Disas Ting—a rectangular stone “circle” that is said to originate in the Iron Age—Skåne’s first life-cairn was inaugurated back in 2025. (We have not pictured the cairn here, out of respect for the sacredness of the site.)

Life-cairns have become fairly commonplace across Europe, but the one at Disas Ting is arguably among the first. During the 2020s, Österlen became too expensive for the artists who had done so much to attract attention to that area, and so many of them—including the now-infamous Skåne school of ecopoets—relocated along the wind-whipped southern coastline of the county, which came to be known as Sö’rlen

According to legend, Disa was the goddess of fate, and would have held a court at the site of the stone circle; it is said that Disa helped save lives when a Swedish king wanted to slaughter half of the population during a famine in the distant past. For the ecopoets of Svarte, Disas Ting became therefore a place of remembrance for the species that were near extinction or already extinct as a result of the human exploitation—but also, perhaps counterintuitively, as a location for the celebration of life’s continuing. (In this it shares some cultural commonality with Skåne’s interspecies cemetery sites.)

When the wych elm disappeared in the mid-2020s, the local poets gathered in Disas Ting on November 30th for a ceremony dedicated to the tree, mixing poetry recitations and interspecies grieving circles. At the end of the ceremony, a stone was put laid between Disas Ting and the shoreline as a marker or totem of the last wych elm. 25 years later, the life-cairn numbers hundreds of stones neatly stacked on top of each other, and is known by the locals as Sö’rlen’s Pyramid.

(Readers of a more subversive bent may be interested to know that the life-cairn was reputed to be a meeting-spot for Extinction Rebellion activists during the Malmist saboteur phase of the 2030s.)

The remembrance day of November 30th eventually became a remembrance month for lost species, starting with the former All Saints’ Day, which functioned as a day of remembrance for all the faithful departed in the Christian church. Despite the sombre theme, the various events that take place during the month of remembrance can be quite bright and cheerful—though we should warn you that the same cannot always be said of the weather.

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