Category Archives: Churches

Excavation at Rissne on Swedish Radio

Currently I’m employed by Arkeologikonsult at the excavations of a grave field in Rissne, Stockholm. The grave field is from the late Viking Age or the early middle ages. The burials are mainly Christian, buried in coffins, but the graves have superstructures that are a relic of ancient burial forms, such as stone settings or mounds, and the dead are still buried at the farmstead grave field rather than at a cemetery by a church.

SR (Swedish Radio) program Vetenskapsradion history (Science Radio: History) has a report on the excavation on the show (in Swedish) under the title The Spectres at Rissne. Pictures from the excavation are available at Arkeologikonsults webpage.

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


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


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


Le Thoronet Abbey

 

A few months back I visited Provence, most of the time was spent working but there were also room for some excursions. One of the places we visited was the Cistercian abbey Le Thoronet. If you happen to pass by, make a stop it’s worth it. The Order of Cistercians is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monks. The Cistercian way of life is that of simplicity, manual labour and self-sufficiency. It was founded in 1098 AD as branch within the order of the Benedictines by Robert from Molesmes and 12 other monks. When Bernhard Clairvaux entered the picture in 1112 it started to spread, when he died, 1153, the order had more than 280 convents.

Most medieval abbeys in Sweden were Cistercians; today most of them can be seen as ruins. Among others Alvastra monastery (1143), Nydala monastery (1143), Varnhem monastery (1150), Roma monastery (1164) etc. there was also nunneries such as Vreta monastery (build as a benediction monastery ca 1100 AD and transformed into a Cistercians monastery ca 1160, Gudhem (1175), Sko kloster (monastery) (1220) etc. Today these ruins are beautiful scenic spots – but as place such as Le Thoronet is like walking into a model that translated the ruins into what it most probably look like once.

Le Thoronet Abbey is probably built sometimes between 1147 when the count of Provence; Raymond Béranger II confirms the abbeys property 1157 when the community moves from Florièges to le Thoronet

I’ll let this pictures tell the story  instead of me;

 

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summar vacation 2009 part 5; the grateful dead ed.

Ro (Rö) church, the oldest parts are from the 13th century, within the church are murals on the walls and on the roof from the 15th century, the latest addition the church is the choir, added in 1747. The church was restored in 1950-51.

 Rö church

Rö church 2

Notice the large buttresses, built during the 16th or 17th century due to a fire, on both the north and south walls of the church.

Rö church strävpelare

Roof and wall murals

 Rö church intriör

Rö church intriör 2

Rö church intriör 3

This one caught my eye it is an interesting mural with an unusual motive called the grateful dead. The mural a church with a high ring wall, outside of the wall are five knights and within the wall is one knight surrounded by the dead armed with farm tools. According to the medieval ledged the pious knight stops at the grave yard to pray for the dead every time he stops at one, when he gets in trouble the dead comes to his aid, in this case against the five persecuting knights. The motive can also be found in Yttergran and Roslagsbro churches. So now I know where to go on my excursion north of Stockholm.

 Rö church intriör 9

Wood sculptures

 Rö church intriör 5

Rö church intriör 7

Christ from 15th century and the cross ca 1950.

Rö church intriör 6

St Maria, 13th century, placed on the the left side of the cross in the choir.

Rö church intriör 4

St Erik, 15th century, right side of the cross in the choir

Rö church funt

The funt, ca 13th century

This is the third church within a rather small area with an odd bell tower, built 1806-1807, at Skedrid church it’s integrated to the gate building.   

 Rö church bell tower

Btw. still haven’t finished the Stockholm part of the vacation so there’s still a lot of pictures from Ostergotland, Smaland and Vastergotland to publish.

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


Summer vacation 2009 part 3

Still keeping it in Stockholm County we visited Frotuna (Frötuna) church. It’s a beautiful church that reveals several rebuilding phases seated by the shoreline of Kyrksjön (The Church lake).

Frötuna kyrka 1

The oldest parts are assumed to be from the 12th century, the choir was prolonged during the 13th century and the roof vaults are from the 15th century. The waiting room is of special interest as a chapel in it might be connected to Sten Sure senior.

Frötuna kyrka 2

Frötuna kyrka 3

Frötuna kyrka 4

Frötuna kyrka 5

The bell tower is the latest addition and is placed on a small hill a few hundred m from the church.

Frötuna kyrkas klocktorn

When we visited work with taring the roof was ongoing.

Frötuna kyrka tjära

The place name Frötuna is interesting as it predates Christianty in Scandinavia. Fro (Frö) is another name for the god Frej one of the gods in Scandinavian mythology, -tuna means farmyard so it means the farm of Frej or Frej’s farm.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 2

I’ll continue with one church and two rune stones;

Lohärads kyrka

At Loharads (Lohärads) church is U567. The oldest parts of the church are from the 13th century, it has been added to several times until it got its present looks during the 19th century. Within the church paintings from the late medieval times have been found and restored, sadly the church was looked so I have no pictures of these.

 U 567

The inscription on U 567 is, translated to English; Anund and Sven (?) and Ærnjjorn and Hægvid(?). Neither the runes nor the ornaments aren’t all that skilfully made, the inscription only holding names indicates that there might have been another stone.

 Lohärad kyrkas klockstapel

The bell tower is a bit odd and placed ca 150 m SW of the church next to a crossing of roads.

The next rune stone is U 573 at Kragsta.

U 573

Today it is very difficult to read as it is worn and it needs a new paint job. The inscription is interesting as it is a variant of a Germanic name giving principle where a part of the fathers name is a part of the sons name, it reads (translated to English); Alvgaut and Vigdjarf had this stone raised in memory of their father Vigi.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 1

The last few days I’ve been on the road, as it’s me that means I’ve stopped at rune stones, churches and ancient remains. Yesterday we went NNW of Stockholm to Roslagen and Uppland and today we went through Sodermanland, Ostergotland to the northern parts of Smaland Counties. 

Karls kyrkoruin 1

Stop one, day one; the church ruin of Karl’s church ruin (Karls kyrkoruin) in Söderby-Karl parish (Raa 212:1).

Karls kyrkoruin 4

Karls kyrkoruin 3

Karls kyrkoruin 2

The church dates back to the 13th century. The oldest mention of the church is from 1287 ” Ecclesijs meis parrochialibus ….. Karlungskirkiu 1287”. It is a very nice ruin but there are no information signs at all except from the road sign.

Karls kyrkoruin skylt

An odd thing is the well in the NW part of the church. It’s ca 3-4 m deep and only protected by a tree lid (no warning signs). I’ve never seen a well inside of a church before. I guess this it’s not unique but it can’t be that usual as I’ve visited more than a few during the last decade and I can’t remember another one. In the well finds of medieval coins and a war hammer has been made and according to national registry of ancient monuments (FMIS) a cranium belonging to an adult woman has also been found in the well or just by it.

Karls kyrkoruin brunn 1

Karls kyrkoruin brunn 2

In the old entrance to the church are several fragments of one or more rune stones (U 583). In Samnordiskruntextdatabas only one fragment is mentioned. According to FMIS there should be two fragments. I saw at least three possibly four. Fragment 1-3 seems to belong to the same stone and the fourth, that I am not possibly sure has runes on it though I got that feel when on location –though on the photo I can’t identify any, are from another stone, if it is a rune stone.

U 583 Fragment 1

U 583 Fragment 1

 

U 583 Fragment 2
U 583 Fragment 2
U 583 (?) Fragment 3
U 583 (?) Fragment 3
Fragment 4 (runes or marks?)
Fragment 4 (runes or marks?)

In the entrance is also a rock with cup marks (not mentioned in FMIS)

Karls kyrkoruin skågropar

More information about the church is available at Stockholm County museum webpage (in Swedish) and FMIS (also in Swedish). 

Magnus Reuterdahl


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