The other day me and my collogues at the cultural heritage unit at the county administrative board of Krononberg went for a study trip to the island Öland in the southeast part of Sweden.
We were to visit Borgholms castle at Öland, Kalmar county museum to get information about an excavation done earlier this year and to the dome of Kalmar that has been partly restored as well as the square in front of it. It turned out to be a fine day.
First we arrived to Borgholms castle or more truthfully castle ruin and museum. To be truthfully I didn’t have high expectations, I have visited the ruin on several occasions but as it turned out it have passed 11 years since the last time and a lot had happened. My most vivid memory is from sometimes in the 80’s when I visited a concert that was held within the ruin. This is something that still occurs several times a year and the framework of the ruin, the setting sun and a (hopefully) good band makes for a special treat. My memory of the ruin itself was a bit cloudy, I remembered it as just a big frame filled with nothingness. Well, as I found out this memory was false.
A model of the castle in all its might ca 17th-18th centuary
Borgholms castle is referred to as “the most beautiful ruin in Scandinavia” on their homepage, I am not sure about that statement but it is impressive.
The southwest tower
Except for the beautiful structures, pillars and vaults there is also one floor in the west wing that has a roof and that holds a museum. Here is also a hall that can be booked for weddings and wedding parties. There is also a truly cool kitchen that has been built within the castle.
The westwing that holds the museum and the halls for feasts and weddings.
Parts of the castle and the castle grounds have been excavated on different occasions in 1929, 1938-39, 1963, 1972, 1974-78, 1988 and 2004. So there are several interesting facts and finds regarding the place. The have been used since at least the Iron Age. The oldest trace of a castle is that of a medieval round tower, dated to the 12th centaury.
The castle ruin as we see it today is the result of King Johan III total rebuild of the medieval castle, that only can be seen within the museum where they shoe some structures that has been preserved from the oldest parts. King Johan III let the castle be converted into a Renaissance palace (1572-1592). In the early 17th centaury much of the palace was damaged during the Kalmar war (1611-1613) but in 1652 the castle was started to be rebuild, it went slow and is still today a construction site, it was closed down by Charles XII as he fought the war against Russia in 1709 and there after it was left to decay until 1806 when a big fire devastated much of what was left. Since the 1880’s work begun to preserve and restore the ruin and the work is still ongoing.
The (re)construction is ever ongoing.
Other interesting thing is that the staff converts limestone to quick lime themselves, which is used to restore the ruin. This process is done in a big “lime” oven a few times every year. It’s advertised on their homepage, I was told, and will keep an eye out.
The oven in which they make quick lime
One thing that was impressive was the big windows that had been installed within the vaults, the cool thing is that they are more or less invisible, they a really a part of the ruin.
The windows that are set in the vaults besides an open vault.
In the summer time they hold a lot of activates for children in the castle, where they can play knights, princesses etc.
The whole area around the castle is a mighty heathland where cows roams free all summer long. Just south of the castle ruin is Soliden, a summer residence used by the Swedish king and his family, if one is interested in gardens this is said to be very beautiful.
After lunch we went to Kalmar and the County museum. We got a lecture regarding an archaeological excavation in the central parts of Kalmar. The excavation preceded the construction of a new art hall. There had been a lot of fine finds for example a medieval skate made from made out of a metacarpal bone from a cow or possible a horse. There was also some interesting finds of different kinds of wool and other fabrics. A nice and very pedagogic display of an excavation, sadly it was to be dismantled the next day.
Then we went to see the square in front of the Kalmar Dome. This square has recently been put in order as have the exterior of the dome. We also got a quick look inside the building where restoration and reorganization is on its way. We got some information on how this should be done.
A nice day with a lot of sights and impressions.