Category Archives: Castles

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

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

Summer vacation 2009 part 7; Lodose museum

Last Wendsday we went to Vastergotland and Lodose museum, the plan were to go to Lodose (Lödöse) museum and then slowly return via the northen parts of Vastergotland to Jonkoping stopping at ancient monuments etc, the weather got a bit bad though so all we did was visiting the museum, which in itself was well worth the trip.

Lödöse museum building

A model scale 1:1 displaying the thickness of the cultural layers

A model scale 1:1 displaying the thickness of the cultural layers

Lodose is small town ca 40 km north of Gothenburg.  Lodose is possible best known for the finds from the medieval town, ca 1/3 of the medieval town has been excavated, the cultural layers are up to 4 m in depth and more than 150000 finds has been registered.  Lodose oldest parts as a town is from the 10th century, this is not say that there isn’t older phases, it was one of Sweden’s main port and trading cities in the Middle Ages and for a long time the only facing west. Due to changing natural conditions the operations were relocated during the late 1400’s and 1500’s to what came to be Gothenburg and in 1646 and Lödöse lost its town privileges.

The museum is primarily an archaeological museum with a focus on the medieval town Lodose but they also have a nice exhibit on the prehistory in the Gota river valley.  The museum opened in 1965, and the new museum opened in 1994.

I must say I like this museum, is just big  and/or small enough, the premises are fresh and the exhibits interesting. The exhibits are what could be called a bit traditional (which I find positive) but at the same time it feels fresh and up to date, lets call it post pomo pro retro.

There are plenty of findings in the displays, they are partly broken down in traditional groupings such as trade, port activities, crafts, etc. but the  artifacts returns in several contexts which shows that they are multicontextual, eg. it dispalys that we must interpret them according to the context . The information is narrative but leaves room for interpretations and questions, though the visitor isn’t left on his or her own as I feel has been the case in some museums in latter years. This is an example of a museum that uses their collection in a good way, that trusts the value of the artifacts in themselves and in their contexts and dares to tell the story of them. This is the kind of museum that I like!

I took some pictures of the displays and on some finds

From the medieval exhibit;

A cannon

 Lödöse museum cannon


Lödöse museum swords

Knife sheath made of tree and lead

 Lödöse museum knife

Make a coin, I did

 Lödöse museum make a coin

Medieval shoes

 Lödöse museum shoes

Bone flutes

 Lödöse museum bone flutes

A funt of tree

 Lödöse museum funt

As you can see below runic inscriptions can be carved into almost any object. These medieval finds shows that runes were used by all groups in the cities, in other words rune literacy during the Middle Ages are high in the cities. Still we find very few finds of this sort in the country side though this might be due to preservation possibilities. In the deep cultural layers of the medieval towns there is a much better chance for objects of tree or leather to be preserved.

At the back; part of a Besman scale, in front; a measuring tool with a rune inscription.

 Lödöse museum runes

A thresh tool with a runic inscription

 Lödöse museum runes 2

Two calendar stick with a runic inscription

 Lödöse museum runes 3

Lödöse museum runes 4

From the prehistoric exhibit;

Antler from a reindeer and a jaw from a polar bear. The finds are dated to ca 13000-10500 BP, in other words from the end of the ice age.

 Lödöse museum reindeer

Stone Age axes

Lödöse museum stone age axes

Flint micro chips or microliths in displayed as the they were in the elder days

 Lödöse museum stone age flint microliths

These flint scrapers are either from the late Neolithics or the Bronze Age.

Lödöse museum Stone age scrapes daggers

Bronze Age swords

Lödöse museum Bronze Age swords

The next display is a 3-D model of the Gota river valley on which is projected how the country has raised itself and the valley has changed over the last 12 000 years, since the last ice age, and how man has taken possession of the landscape. A good presentation that is clear and makes it easy to see the changes, man made as well as natural. I miss one thing though and that is markers that show where today’s societies are. This is shown in the very beginning of the presentation but I feel that the presentation should gain on showing this all the way through.

Lödöse museum model Lödöse museum model2 Lödöse museum model3

If you’re in the neighborhood this is a museum you shouldn’t miss, it’s well worth a detour.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Day before Christmas

The Christmas vacation has been on for a few days and it’s been spent travelling, eating and shopping. I really don’t shop for Christmas gifts all that much, mostly a few small presents to my family and a little more for my nieces and nephews. But I do take time to buy some things for myself; mostly books and fine wines (see Aqua vitae blog in Swedish).

I usually use this time of the year to read some novels and this year I’d been recommended the Irish author Ken Bruen. I picked up the Killing of the tinkers; a hardboiled noir crime novel that begins with a Thin Lizzy reference (just lovin’ that).

I love the style this novel is written in, I love the authors languish and the dark moods that runs throughout the story; maybe not Christmassy but a damn good read.


A fellah I met on the Kilburn High Road had asked me if I was a social drinker. I’d said,

“No, what about yourself?”

“I’m a social security drinker.”

Now to books that has been incorporated in my library (me Christmas presents to self);

Beskrivning om swenska hemman och lägenheter (Accounts on Swedish homesteads and real estates) by Barthold Nystrom 1784. A book on the laws and regulations of homesteads and real estates in Sweden.


On the cover is proof of several of its owners..


and on the inside of the cover is the evidence of yet another previous owner; the ex libris of Gustaf Elgenstierna (1871-1948) (link in Swedish).

Next in line is Beskrifning av Örebro län (An account on Örebro County) by Wilhelm Tham 1849.


Then a nice little thing called Ett år i Sverige (A year in Sweden) – Taflor af Svenska Almogens klädedrägt och hemseder samt de för landet historia märkvärdigaste orter (Paintings/drawings of Swedish peasant costume and culture and important historic places), text by A Grafstom 1864 and drawings/paintings by J. G. Sandberg.


Illustration of Gripsholm castle from Ett år i Sverige.

I like ancient and historic maps and En krönika om kartor över Sverige (A chronicle of maps on Sweden) by Einar Bratt 1958 is a book about just that.


Finally I got this little almanac dating to the year 1780.


Magnus Reuterdahl

A day at Ulriksdal Palace

Just a few kilometres away from home is the royal Palace Ulriksdal, it is situated at the brink of Edsviken just east of Bergshamra (where I live). As a student at the Osteoarchaeological research laboratory (OFL) at Stockholm University I spent two years here as the laboratory at that time was situated in one of royal stables. Today OFL is no longer at Ulriksdal and can now be found at the Wallenberg laboratory, Stockholm University campus.


In this building OFL was situated until 2003.

The surroundings hold many scenic spots both of cultural historic importance and due to beautiful nature scenery.

As one walks from Bergshamra one passes a cemetery for soldiers that became invalids during wars between 1788-1814. King Karl IV Johan made Ulriksdal available for veterans that had been injured during these wars, thus Ulriksdal served as a nursing home between 1822-1849. In total 383 officers, soldiers and enlisted men lived and were taken care of at the castle. The cemetery was founded in 1824 and is the final resting ground for some 200 men. A small part of the cemetery is enclosed and except for five tombstones the graves are unmarked.

The palace was built during the 17th century by field marshal Johan De la Gardie and was then named Jacobsdal. When Queen Hedvig Elenora acquires the castle in 1684 the name is changed to Ulriksdal. The exterior of the palace today is from the mid 18th century. As time have passed several kings and queens has made changes and added to the castle and the surroundings. This very obvious if one takes the tour of the castle, where different periods of its history are displayed. One of the interesting things is one of Stockholm’s first living rooms. It is designed by Carl Malmsten for the crown prince Gustaf VI Adolf in the 1920’s.

The castle park was originally created during the second half of the 17th century, within the park is the Orangery and several sculptures by artist such as Carl Milles and Pehr Henrik Lundgren.

The Orangery is a building from the beginning of the 18th century by the architect Nicodemus Tessin the younger. It was restored in 1987-91 and works as a museum for art by Swedish sculptors such as Tobias Sergel, Bengt Erland Fogelberg, Johan Niklas Byström and Christian Eriksson.

Another buildings is the Ulriksdal royal chapel, it was build in the 1860’s by King Karl XV. It is a popular spot for weddings.

At Ulriksdal is also one of Sweden’s oldest preserved theatres; the rococo theatre Ulriksdal royal theatre aka the Confidence. The theatre was built by Queen Lovisa Ulrika and was opened in 1753. Sorry to say I have no picture of the theatre at the moment.

Across the theatre is Ulriksdals inn (Värdshus) the building is from 1867 and the food and environment is great.

And to finish this post a few pictures of the surroundings at Ulriksdal.

Ulriksdal palace

Magnus Reuterdahl


The castle Brahehus


The ruin of the castle Brahehus is situated by the highway E4 some miles north of Gränna. Its demise is accentuated by the modernity that has been allowed to overtake the area rather than be integrated in the ruin site. The ruin feels out of place when seen from the rest stop, where the highway and the modern structures seem to surpass the ruin. The pathway to the ruin runs under the highway and seems to further suppress it; one almost feels like walking the path of the doomed to face the ruins of yesterday.

The highway seems to diminish Brahehus.

Brahehus seen from the reststop.

The pathway under the highway that leads to Brahehus.

But all that ends as soon as one comes up to the ruin and sees the grand view over lake Vättern, Gränna and the island Visingsö. At this time the ruin or castle is the centre and the highway is but a parenthesis in my subconscious. One can feel how right the castle was placed in the landscape.

Brahehus, castle

The view from one of the window frames, down below is the bank between Gränna and Uppgränna outside which one sees lake Vättern and the island Visingsö.

Uppgränna från Brahehus

View over Uppgränna, in Uppgränna stands a beautiful rune stone.

 View over the middle and south part of the island Visingsö.

View over the northern part of Visingsö

Brahehus was built for the high chancellor count Per Brahe the younger in the mid 17th century. It was intended as a country retreat but became the dower house for his wife Kristina Katarina Stenbock, though she died before it was finished. The building process started in 1638 and wasn’t finished until the mid 1650’s. It was inspired by the medieval castles in Germany, regarding the location.

From this point one could see the other two castles that made up the Brahe castle triangle; Västanå castle (today the home of a golf course) and Visingsö castle (another ruin one can visit on the island Visingsö). As Per Brahes wife died the castle was used more or less as tourist complex, and for parties.

It is said that there has been several houses made out of wood around the castle, among others there might have been an inn and stables. It was destroyed in a fire 1708 and was left to decay, several renovations has been made since the beginning of the 20th century.


I’ve been to Brahehus on several occasions, as a child and fourth, but you always learn or seen something new when you visit a place. This time I took a closer look at one of the cellars.

The door to the celler

Behind the door a small cellar opens up, but as you can see the farther wall does not seem to have a 17th century origin. This makes me curious, do the cellar continue onwards, that’s my belief. So now I feel a need to read up the castle and see if I can find out anything more about the cellar. I also got interested if there are any archaeological evidence of the possible houses built outside of the castle or if anyone has made any research about it (mayhap one could try to make a project out of it???).

It is a stop one shouldn’t miss!

Magnus Reuterdahl

Two castle ruins and a grave field at lake Roxen

Besides the ruins of Vreta cloister there are a lot of other interesting ruins to been seen around and near lake Roxen in Östergötland. During our trip a few weeks ago we visited two ruins; Stjäntorp castle and the castle ruin of Ål (Eel) and a small grave field.

Stjärnorp castle was built between 1655-1662 by Nicodemus Tessin the elder for Field Marshal Robert Douglas. A fire in 1789 destroyed much of the castle. The chapel was renovated and turned into a church and the wings were restored, obviously the main building wasn’t.

Stärnstorps slott, Östergötland

Stjärnorp castle and church seen from southeast

Stärnstorps slott, Östergötland

The main building seen from south

Stärnstorps slott, Östergötland

The main building seen from southwest

Stärnstorps slott, Östergötland

The main building gate tower seen from west

Stärnstorps kyrka, Östergötland

The church of Stjärnorp seen from south

Just outside the castle is a 3 km long ravine. There are tracks for hiking in the ravine though we didn’t have time to explore it.

This is a nice scenic spot that holds several interesting elements, the castle wings, the church, the ruin and the ravine. The ravine and the park that surrounds the castle is open to the public and if I understood it right so is the church, at least on Sundays.

The castle ruin of Ål (Vånga 3:1) in Vånga parish is from the middle ages, from the 15th century or maybe older. It is situated on a small rock with a great view over lake Roxen. On the pathway to the castle one walks just next to a small and beautiful grave field (Vånga 9:1) from the Iron Age.

Åls slottsruin, Östergötland

The castle ruin seen from southwest

Åls slottsruin, Östergötland

The southwest corner of the castle ruin

Åls slottsruin, Östergötland

The castle ruin seen from the west

Åls slottsruin, Östergötland

A  entrance that was restored in 1995

Åls slottsruin, Östergötland

Åls borgruin

Inside the castle ruin one can see part the room distribution, and at what levels the floors have been at, as seen on the two pictures above.

Picture taken in the north chamber and of the northwest view.

Åls slottsruin, Östergötland

Part of the wall where one can study how it is constructed.

Part of a construction outside to the east of the main building, maybe a wing or the celler to a farm buliding.

If this is a ruin after a castle or not can be discussed, I believe a term such as a fortified manor or farmstead is a better one.

This is a beautiful ruin situated in a beautiful landscape that I feel is well worth a visit. Besides the ruin there a few extra perks; the grave field, oddly enough there is no information sign at the site. It is placed near the waterside just a few hundred meters from the small parking lot. According to the NHB (RAÄ) this  grave field is ca 70 x 60 meters big and holds 26 visible construction, three mounds, 21 round stone settings and one stone circle.

1, Iron Age, gravfält, Östergötland

The grave field seen from north, in the middle of the photo are several stones that makes a stone circle

1, Iron Age, gravfält, Östergötland

On of the three mounds, in the middle is a small crater. The crate is probably not due to plundering but the result of a collapsed construction in the middle of the mound.

1, Iron Age, gravfält, Östergötland

The grave field seen from northeast.

1, Iron Age, gravfält, Östergötland

The grave field seem from the northwest. The pathway to the castle ruins runs on the edge and partly through the gravefield which has caused some damage to a couple of the graves.

As we visited the site I hadn’t really studied the area which made me miss the fact that there is yet another grave field just a few hundred meters south of the ruin (Vånga 10:1). This one is a bit smaller and holds 5 graves. One should always come prepared.

Magnus Reuterdahl

A Seminar concerning castles and ancient fortresses

Tomorrow (Friday 18th) I plan to attend a seminar about castles held by the Swedish Association for castle studies (Link in Swedish). The program promises some interesting seminars such as:

Professor Ulf Näsman will talk about ancient fortresses on the southern part of the Island Öland and the societies that built them.

One example of these ancient fortresses is Ismantorps borg, read more here.

Next in line is Fil.Dr. Anna Lihammer will speak on the subject Trelleborgar in their context. Trelleborgar: Trelleborgar are large round ancient fortresses of a type mainly found in Scania and Denmark dated to the Iron Age.

Fil.Dr. Peter Carelli will speak of the castle of Helsingborg during the middle ages. The castle is a made out of a large tower, dated to the 13th century. Link to a picture here.

And finally Mats Sandin and Tom Wennberg from Gothenborg city museum will speak of the excavations at the middle age castle Älvsborg.

I will take some notes though not so detailed as those concerning the Osteological Associations seminar. I might have missed someone’s title or gotten it wrong, if so please contact me.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The exterior of the dome of Linköping and then some

In my last post I showed parts of the interior of the dome now to the exterior.

Linköpings domkyrka

The history of the dome of Linköping begins before the dome; it probably is predated by a small wooden church, maybe built during the 11th century. The first stone church was built during the first half the 12th century. The foundation of this church was excavated in 1915-1916. During the beginning of the 13th century the bishop Bengt (1220-36) started to make expansions. He built a new chancel as well as a transept nave. These parts are still a part of the dome as well as the altar. Since the church has been rebuilt, added to and renovated. A dome can be seen as a constant work in progress, though these days there are mostly renovations and changes of the interior design.

 Linköpings domkyrka

One interesting detail is the sundial, it can be found on one of the exterior pillars of the chancel.

Medeltida solur Linköpings domkyrka

It is dated to 1512 and one of the oldest in Sweden. As you can se in the photo below it is a square with lines and inscriptions to help the watcher to read the time.

 Medeltida solur lindköpings domkyrka

Just northwest of the dome is a reconstruction of a labyrinth, a.k.a. a trojaborg.

 linköpings domkyrka labyrint

Just southwest of the dome is Linköping castle. The oldest parts of the castle are dated to the 12th century and it is one of the oldest profane buildings in Sweden. The oldest parts are a small basement and a small two-storey house, both made out of limestone, they are dated to the first half of the 12th century (of which I have no pictures…).

Linköpings slott 3

Linköpings slott 1

Lindköpings slott 2


Magnus Reuterdahl


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