Category Archives: Buildings

Rock-art-lollapalooza part 1

 My fiancée, who also is an archaeologist, is currently participating in an archaeological dig at the Swedish west coast, at Tanum. Tanum is internationally known for its rock art sites, the Tanum UNESCO World Heritage site includes a multitude of rock carvings dated to the Bronze Age ca 1700-500 BC. In the area there are more than 1500 known sites with rock art. Last weekend I visited and we went on a rock art Safari visiting a few of the sites, the first Vitlycke, which is one of the biggest sites including the famous carving that is called the the wedding couple .

The most common motives are cup marks, ships, people, animals, footprints, wheels etc. Not being an expert on these they still captures my imagination, this is as close as we come to a written testimony of the Bronze Age world giving us glimpses into the world then. The rock carving as seen today is made on outcrops and rocks that are visible in the modern farming landscape, but during the Bronze Age they were situated near the waterline. What is ongoing in Scandinavia, since the last Ice Age, is the land uplift in progress, due to this the coastline has moved quite a bit since the Bronze Age and so landscape surrounding the rock carvings has changed as well.

Big outcrop with rock art at Vitlycke

On top of this hill, ca 100 meter higher in the terrain are two great burial cairns from the Bronze Age.

This is the first of several posts consisting mainly of photos from these sites.

The wedding couple

As you see the carvings have been filled with paint, when they’re found they’re not – can you see the carvings on the next picture?

In the middle is a foot sole and down to the left is part of a ship.

At Vitlycke is also a rock art museum, which includes a replica of a Bronze Age farm.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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Skokloster Abbey

A few days ago I wrote about a visit to Skokloster castle and published some photos, now it is time for some interior shots.

Sko church was built by the order of Cistercians as the nuns at Byarum in Smaland started to move to Uppland in the 13th century. It’s believed that work started ca 1230, ca 1280 is the inauguration of the high altar of the church, by then the nuns might have moved to Sko. As most medieval churches it has been added to, restored and changed over the centuries.

Skokloster kyrka interiör

Interior Skokloster Abbey

crucifix Skokloster kyrka

Crucifix, made of oak, mid-1200s.

Madonna, made of oak, the child’s head of hardwood, possible from Gotland, first quarter of the 1300s.

The Herman Wrangel monument in the grave Wrangelska choir. The sculpture is made by Daniel Anckermann (German) ca 1650.

Herman Wrangel golden armor

There are two artistic representations of the Battle of Gorzno in Skokloster Abbey, an oil painting and the stucco on the wall of the Wrangel tomb chapel.

The stucco is divided into a lower lot, where the battle scenes take place in a forest and river scenery, and a top where Swedish and Polish armies are seen in bird’s eye view, the Poles on the left and the Swedes on the right side. The stucco is based on a drawing preserved in the war archive, in Stockholm.

The information on the stucco is from an article in Fornvännen 1939 by Wilhelm Nisser; Daniel Anckermans stuckaturer i de Gyllenhemska och Wrangelska gravkoren (pdf in Swedish).

Magnus Reuterdahl


Some 17th and 18th century copperplate engravings

Once again in Jonkoping and once again finding myself on a shopping spree. This weekend I’m visiting my parents before going on a job in the southwest of Sweden. And as luck has it I picked up some 17th and 18th century copperplate engravings and prints, if coloured they’re hand coloured.

These two lovely copperplate engravings by Briot, 1672 or 1676, from Histoire de L’Etat Present de L’Empire Ottoman.

To the right, “Vin Spahis”(Tome 2, Fol. 33). Spahi or Kapu Kuli was one of the finest horsemen of the six corps of the Ottoman and later Turkish army. To the left Le Ianisar Agasi, General des Ianissaires (Tome 2 Fol. 45). The Ianissaires where one of the greatest strengths of the Ottoman (and Turkish?) armed forces.

A black and white copperplate engraving of the Chinese wall, in the background is the city Xogon Koton (not sure of its current name or the Pinyin transcription).

The Embassadors entry through the famous Chinese Wall. Near 1200 miles in length from John Harris’s Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca or A Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels 1748.

The next engraveing is also on a Chinese view of the Porcelain tower of Nanjing or Bao’ensi.

Prospect of the Porcelane tower at Nan King in China (Sparrow sculp), ca 1790.

The last one with a Chinese motive is named the procession at a Chinese funeral (vol II pag.217) from The general history of China : containing a geographical, historical chronological, political and physical description of the Empire of China, Chinese-Tartary, Corea and Thibet including an exact and particular account of their customs, manners, cermonies, religion, arts and sciences by Jean Baptiste du Halde 1739. (volume the second, The Second edition Corrected)

I also bought a map of the north part of Scandinavia; the Norwegian coast Sweden from Medelpad, the north part of Finland, the north west of Russia. On the map Laponie Suedoise is especially marked. The map is named Carte des courones du Nord, dédiée au tres-puissantet et trees-invincible prince Charles XII roy de Suede des Gots et des Vandales, grand duc dr finlandie &c, &c, &c. Par son tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur Guillaume De l’Isle de l’Academie Rle. des Sciences, 1706. A Paris, chez l’Auteur sur le Quai de l’Orloge a avec Privilege du Roy. Grave par Liebaux le fils.  The map was made by Guillaume de Lisle (1675-1726), this map is printed in Paris 1780.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Heritage board’s course on Historic Landscapes day 3

It’s been a long day, and I’m rather tired so this just a quick update of the day.

We started off looking at the area around Sagaån (Saga river) where lots of time and effort has been put in over the years concerning a new route for the highway E18. One alternative was to put the route between two great mounds and the assumed place for the medieval king’s road Eriksgatan and the passage where the king left Västmanland and entered Uppland. The other alternative was to place the route in a landscape which shows a well-worked-industrial agricultural landscape. The issue has been resolved and the new route is being built but it was an interesting discussion on how to different values sometimes clashes.

From there we continued north towards Bergslagen and Norberg – on the way we stopped by the grave field at Anunds mound at Badelunda – an amazing site – well worth a visit. Anunds mound is the largest burial mound in Sweden measuring 60 m diameter and 14 meters in height. On the grave field are also several smaller mounds, ship settings and a line of stones, including a rune stone, a monument called a bridge. The grave field is dated to the Iron Age and the rune stone bridge monument to the late Iron Age or the middle Ages.

After this we stopped at the UNESCO world heritage site Engelsberg Ironworks – a part of Bergslagen (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/556) Engelsberg is one of the best preserved ironworks from the 17th and 18th centuries. The complex is more or less complete, with a manor, with smithies, and blast-furnace among other things.

Though I don’t have a photo – the worlds oldest, still standing, oil refinerie is also in Engelsberg , built during the early 1800s.

From here to Norsberg and a visit to Nya (New) Lapphyttan – Nya Lappnyttan is a reconstructed medieval village, Blast furnace and Iron production open-air museum based on an archaeological excavation of Lapphyttan, during the 80’s, of one the oldest blast furnace remains in Sweden and Europe. It’s been dated to the 12th century.

This is all for now

Magnus Reuterdahl


Heritage board’s course on Historic Landscapes day 1

Oxhagen in Rimbo

First day of the National Heritage board’s course on Historic Landscapes (Landskapshistorisk utbildning) we visited Oxhagen (the Ox pasture) in Rimbo, some miles north of Stockholm. I’ve been there a few years ago but had more or less forgotten about it, it situated in a rural landscape and we got some friends tagging a long for the ride.

Within the pastures are the remains of an late Bronze Age/early Iron Age landscape with clearing cairns, small fossilized fields, cairns of fire cracked stones, a grave field with stone settings and so forth – these remains is in part “disturbed” by newer features, such as younger fossilized fields and clearing cairns, military buildings etc.

An interesting area with gave cause to lots and lots of discussions – where why and how are important words. What makes you determine if something is a prehistoric remain or not– if in doubt use the rule of three:

Location – where is it situated, form – does it have the right shape and material – is it built by the right material.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Skokloster castle

Yesterday me and my fianceé visited Skokloster castle, ca 65 km from  Stockholm, by lake Mälaren. The castle is beautifully situated on the waterfront and the roads leading up to the castle are surrounded by old farms and crofts – a treat in it self. The castle is mainly built during the years 1654-1676 by Carl Gustaf Wrangel, but the work never really ends on building such as this.

The castle is more or less built upon an earlier Cistercian nunnery  convent, Sko kloster, which gave named the castle. The monastery was founded in the 1230s, not much is left of the nunnery but the Abbey is situated just next to the castle and the there is the Stone house. The church was consecrated in the 1280s, it has been rebuilt several times and its present appearance came during a renovation in the 1620s.

The Stone house is  a big stone house just next to the castle, its oldest parts are from the 14th century, in form of a basment. The house has since been extended and changed several times and today’s appearance is from the 1740s when Erik Brahe built out and rebuild the house .

Around the castle is a park, in the French style, which is lined with impressive avenues.

The avenue trees are old, crocked and bent, as you can see in these pictures.

The castle and the church is open for visitors, I will return with pictures of the interior in a coming post.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Skokloster castle

Today I’ll go visit Skokloster castle a few miles from Stockholm. Skokolster is Carl Gustaf Wrangel’s (1613-1676) 17th century castle, a beautiful building and a beutiful place. I thought I’ll play with my new camera for a few hours so I hope I got some nice shots when I return.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Kumlaby church at the island Visingsö

Last week I visited Visingsö, an island in Lake Vättern; it is an island with plenty of ancient remains and cultural heritage. If you happen to be in the vicinity it’s well worth a visit.

I’ve written about Visingsö here before so I thought I should show a few things that are easy to miss out on.

Just south of Kumlaby church is Visingsö folk high school and Visingsö Museum. The museum is situated in a building from 1633 built as a courthouse by count Per Brahe the younger (1602-1680). In 1680 it had lost its use as a courthouse and became the “new” school house for or the school Per Brahe established on Visingsö in 1636, it had previously been housed in Kumblaby church. In 1816 the school was moved to Jonkoping and is today known as Per Brahe high school. Today it houses a small museum. The collection isn’t big but relevant and hold finds and keys to the islands history, from the Stone Age and fourth. Within the museum two of four known rune stones from Visingsö are walled in (one is long since lost and the fourth at Jonkoping County Museum). It’s well worth a stop while you’re on the island.

A few pictures from the museum.

Rune stone SM 124

Inscription: : iskil : auk : kuna : (l)agþu : setn : …n : bunta sin : kuþ halb : se(l)u has :

Translated to English: Áskell and Gunna laid the stone … their husbandman. May God help his soul.

Rune stone SM 125

inscription: …n × lit : kaura : stain : þinsi ×: aftir : fiul:muþ : …

Translated to English: … had this stone made in memory of Fjôlmóðr ..

At the graveyard by the Brahe church, aka Ströja church (Per Brahe the Younger demolished most of the medieval Ströja church in the 1600s and built the Brahe church, the only remaining part of the medieval church is the tower), this piece of a stone cist, of Eskilstuna type, with ornamentations was found in 1988. These kinds of stone cists, or remain of them, are unusual and found around some medieval churches. These monuments are normally dated to the 11th or 12th century and may indicate an older church than the Ströja at the spot. Ströja church was built during the 12th century. On this some the colours are intact.

A model of Visingsborg castle, as it once looked. Today the ruin can be seen from the harbour, and is open for visits. As you will notice, if you visit only ruins, there are only ruins of the southern part of the castle, the west wing and the north wing have long since gone – but the ruin is impressive none the less.

The original school house was Kumlaby church. The church itself was probably built during the 12th century and is open for visitors during the summer for a small fee, you’re also allowed up in the tower to watch the view. Until 1811 the school used the church building at least occasionally but after 1811 it became a deserted church left to the forces of nature. During its use as a school the building went through some rather big changes: The entrances on the south side of the tower and the nave was walled up and a portal to the west was raised, the medieval windows of the naves north and south walls were also walled up and square windows were raised. The paintings on the inner walls and roof were covered by lime. The spire was removed and a patio made for astronomical observations. Though used as a school the burial ground was still in use until 1893, though not frequently, when a new burial ground was landscaped at Brahe church, by the harbour, on the island.

From1876-1884 the decay was temporary stopped as the church was being used as a missionary. Between 1884-1922 it was once again left to the forces of nature.

In 1922 a renovation was started, in the church the paintings from the 15th century was uncovered, some of the 17th century paintings have been kept. The work restoration is described in J.M. Danielssons book Kunlaby kyrka och kyrkogård på Visingsö 1929. (Kumlaby church and graveyard at Visingsö).

The paintings within the church and the hike up the tower are interesting but I believe there at least as interesting things that can be seen outside the church. Just under the roof of the north and south side of the nave, in the east end, one can see carved ornaments in the form of leaves and animal ornamentation. Another interesting detail is at the southern portal, made of sandstone, which has a zigzag ornamentation which indicates a probable influence from the west, from England. Furthermore, there are two clear stonemason brands in the portal. Walking around the churchyard I’m also struck by how well-preserved the gravestones are.

These are just a few of the things there are to keep an eye out for; I’ll probably come back to Visingsö again.

Magnus Reuterdahl


On a shopping spree

The paycheck is burning a hole in my pocket so I went on a small shopping spree and bought some fantastic hand colored 17th century prints from the book Antiquae urbis splendor (1612-1628) by Giacomo Lauro (1583-1650). It’s quite fantastic to realize that you’re holding a sheet of paper from the 17th century in is such good condition and that the colors are so alive after more than 400 years. I’ve excavated much younger artifacts in much worse condition than these, though, obviously, not made of paper.

Here are a few of the prints – enjoy!

De Copiis Romanorum maritimis

Thermae Titi Vespasiani

On the back of each print is a text in Latin, German and French

Templum Honoris et Virtutis

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation part 4

Skedrid church 1

Next stop, and I still haven’t come past last Saturday so there’s a lot more to come, is Skederids church in Finsta, by some believed to been built by Saint Birgitta’s father Birger Persson and became a stop for pilgrims. The oldest part of the church is from the last part of the 13th century and as most churches it has been added to and changed during the centuries.

Skedrid church 2

Skedrid church 3

Skedrid church 4

Skedrid church detail

 There is a walled in rune stone, unfortunately the photo was out of focus.

The bell tower, open for display, is placed within the gate (stigport) building.

Skedrid bell tower 1

Skedrid bell tower 3

Skedrid bell tower 4

Skedrid bell tower church bells

There are other places nearby that are also connected to Birgitta such a small cave or rather a rock formation called Birgitta’s prayer cave where, according to local mythology, Birgitta’s had her first revelation (No picture, sorry).

Magnus Reuterdahl


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