Category Archives: Jönköpings län

Ice storm of 1929

In the Swedish internet newspaper (J is for Jonkoping the city where I was born some 36 years ago) is an article on the Ice storm of 1929. On January 15 after several days of a cold northern wind, Jonkoping is situated on the south shores of Lake Vettern. Lake Vettern is ca 150 km long and when the cold winter wind comes from the north over the lake it becomes really cold. At the night towards the 15th the wind was pushing to a storm from the north over the cold waters, about to freeze, at -10 degrees Celsius (ca 14 degrees Fahrenheit), creating an extreme cold where 16 trains were frozen to the railway tracks and fantastic ice formations were created, the article contains three great pictures. In the first a sign spells Jönköping city to the right and to the left a formation called the statue of liberty (though I believe it looks more like a Nazgûl in Peter Jacksons Lord of the rings), in the second some sees a dog and on the third are telephone wires that has fallen down due to the storm.

The storm itself lasted until January the 17th and on the 21st the railway traffic was running in a normal order. As it’s not quite sure who owns the right to pictures you’ll have to click this link to see them.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Today archaeology in Jonkoping, tomorrow Visingsö

I’ve used my days in Jonkoping to catch up with friends and local archaeology. I’ve visited Jonkoping County Museums excavation of the medieval road Eriksgatan, the road the Swedish king or queen had and still have to travel after his or hers coronation to visit the different parts of his or hers kingdom. A tradition that goes back to the 13th century when the kingdom Sweden became a kingdom. In every province the king was to be accepted by the local government, the trip started at Mora stenar in Uppland went through Södermanland to the east shore of lake Vättern in Östergötland to Jönköping at the south end of lake Vättern, in Småland, then north through Västergötland, Närke and Västmanland and finally returning to Uppland. At Jonkoping County museum are some pictures of finds and info concerning the excavation (link in Swedish).

The open trench wherein a part of Eriksgatan is visable, it’s well preserved and one can see where the wagon wheels once traveled. If you’re in the neighborhood hurry by! I think it’s really cool to be able to experience a part of a road that is so intimately connected to Swedish history and the beginning of Sweden as a kingdom, a symbol for the nation then and now. Just imagine that one of those wheel tracks belonged to king Magnus Eriksson (1319-1364) in 1335, the first king we now for a certainty  made the trip.

I also visited the excavation of Svenska maden (Swedish maden), where the national heritage board (RAA) is excavating. Svenska maden is an area in the outskirt of 17th century Jonkoping, where Swedish workers worked and lived (link in Swedish). At the time the area wasn’t very nice as this was wetlands, it was continually filled up with sand to make it habitable, though probably still wet, damp and probably not that nice. A few years back Tyska maden (German maden) was  excavated with very interesting results. At Tyska maden german workers lived under similar conditions.

Tomorrow I plan to visit the island Visingsö, the whole island is a paradise for archeobuffs; large grave fields, medieval castle ruins, historic castle ruins, medieval churches etc. I’ve worked on several materials from the island during my studies at Stockholm University and as always when you study something you get sidetracked. These sidetracks are often left unfinished as they don’t fit the essay or the work you currently do. This time I aim to pick up such a sidetrack and see if can transform it into a small article. No matter what a few pictures are bound to find its way to this blog in a few days.

Magnus Reuterdahl

On the go

Just finished a quick job in Jonkoping County close to Aneby – a small archaeological investigation concerning a single wind power plant. A nice enough area where two fossil acres just became a bit bigger and two new been found. I’ve also managed to wing it into a PM/report – that’s being checked at the moment before being sent to the proper authorities.

I’ll be in Jonkoping until sometime tomorrow and then it’s off to Vastergotland County for two 3-day jobs – more on this in a coming post.

I’ve also gotten a new colleague in Magnus Stenhols – Welcome to Arkeologicentrum, there might be yet another on the way in.

Magnus Reuterdahl

High school reunion class of 1990

In Sweden, class reunions parties aren’t really a big thing, although it has become more common. This year marks 20 years since I left high school, 1981-1990. From grade one to nine, I went with the same class, first at Hisingstorpskolan and later at Junedalskolan in Jonkoping.  I’ve noticed that not all that many from my class will attend, but as it doesn’t cost all that much it’s not the end of the world if it’ll suck, and anyways I know some good friends that will attend and if it gets to bad then there are other bars. This weekend it is teenage drunkenness revisited all over again.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Jonkoping County Museum City exhibit 2010

The new city exhibit is quite small but contains a lot of information. It is placed part from the museum in the new city archive wing, the entrance is through the city library.

In short the exhibit can be divided into 7 parts – the road into the city a – almost like a bridge that is illustrated by a reconstruction of the old city road flanked by a large photo of road workers of the first part of the 20th century. This part is made in the passage from the library to the exhibit which is made of glass; this creates a feeling of coming from an open landscape into the murkiness of the city.

A medieval bone flute with a runic inscription “GUD” (God). To the left a part of the reconstructed main road.

Inside of the city a large city map from 1874 meets the eye and in front of that what looks like a well.

The exhibit is created around a round square where four displays and the map gives focus to different parts of a city, city life and the history of the city. The well is not quite a well but a hole to an archaeological context – a window to what was found underground at this place.

While at the map one can stop and think of how the city has evolved since 1874 and what is left of 19th century Jonkoping – in information pamphlets a lot of information on the city’s history is available from the oldest sources, 13th century and fourth, and why different changes have come about – where was the first castle placed? It is mentioned in three documents from 1278; SRS III “obcessum est csatrum Junacopie”, SRS II “castrum Jonacopense” and SRAp “datum in castro Junakøpung” in castro Jonkoping. There are also other sources but none points out the exact place of the now lost castle. Intereseting in is old documents are also to look on the spelling of the city. The name Jonkoping is derived from two parts Jon- probably June as in a small stream called Junebäcken, today almost non-visible if you don’t know where it once run its course (If I remember correctly it is tunnelled today). My thought is that this is of such importance when concerning Jonkoping’s history that if possible it should be opened again. The second word is –koping and roughly means place of commerce.

In the first display the bourgeois of the 19th and early 20th century is displayed; what was produced in the city, who did people live etc. The next display concerns mass-culture such as sport and pop music. Several bands and artists are displayed via eps (singles), posters and articles. In one of the photos from a concert – the young police man in the middle is possibly my father (red circle) ca 1967-1969 (I got another picture where he is and I’m not quite sure as the police man in this picture looks down and is not quite visible).

In the third and fourth displays Jonkoping is seen through the eyes of archaeologists; graves, finds from different industries and reconstructions of the later Jonkoping castle, built in the mid 16th century around the medieval Franciscan convent (1283-to ca 1540). The castle was destroyed in a fire 1737 and was finally demolished during the 1860’s and 70’s – today one can get glimpses of the castle when and if excavations are carried out.

Now this was it – a nice little exhibition filled with a lot of information for residences as well as tourists, well worth a detour!

Best wishes

Magnus Reuterdahl

Olle Krantz (1906-1999) – a Swedish painter and sculptor

One of my favourite Swedish painters is Olle Krantz, he lived and created his art on the island Visingsö. He built an estate on the island a kind of haven which reflected and displayed his art, Tempelgården (the Temple estate). My parents knew his so I had the opportunity to meet on several occasion in my youth. At the time I don’t believe the art was what fascinated me the most, it was the temple and his home; His home is best described as a mix of Pippi Longstockings house and the treasure cave of Aladdin. If my memory serves me correct there where things and trinkets everywhere, mixed with colours and art of different kinds, you could look all day and still not be able to get it all in – I loved it.

Today I appreciate his art, I like the way he used colours, mixed the naive with expressionism and his capturing of the moment.


Women by the waterfront
Women by the waterfront

As I was in Jonkoping during the holidays I spotted some of his paintings and photographed them thinking I write a post on him. A few days ago I googled him and found close to nothing, now that’s a shame – but my father use to save articles and such so I asked him if he saved any on Olle Krantz. As I guessed he had and hence a post on a artist from the island Visingsö in lake Vaettern, Sweden.

Self portrait
Self portrait

Olle Krantz was born at Visingsö in 1906 one of eight siblings. In an Interview from 1993 in local paper Jonkopingsposten (JP) Olle talks about his art. The paintings often depict scenes of love, bodily pleasures and bare women others concerns biblical motives and questions concerning his personal faith and yet others are pictures from his life, for example from his childhood on Visingsö, from his first marriage and his later partner Rut who died due to illness.

Dancing women & Wedding carriage
Dancing women & Wedding carriage

In the article he talks about the therapeutic value of painting as a way to deal with the grief and find both happiness and meaning in life. His main purpose with his art was not to get recognition but to feel good and joy within himself.

The important thing in life is not to loose faith in your own abilities, to not lose your spark. Many postpone everything believing that they will do all the fun things when they retire. One should not postpone but do.”  

Boy playing the flute
Boy playing the flute

In 1951 Olle Krantz gave up his day job as proprietor of a small grocery store on Visingsö to become a professional artist to the disbelief of others. But Olle persisted that he would live his dream and so he did.

“…every community should have place for an oaf and on Visingso the oaf is me!

Young woman
Young woman

During the 1940’s he had begun building the cottages that would become a vital part of the Temple estate (Tempelgården) and in 1956 as he bought and rebuilt the Temple that have given the estate its name. The Temple is a copy of the Parthenon and was originally built by the Theosophists by the castle ruin Visingsborg for their world peace conference on the island in 1913. Olle used it as a centrepiece in the garden and as an exhibit hall for his paintings. The estate can be said to be his legacy to Visingso and those visit the island. 

Olle Krantz did his last exhibit in 1996 and he could look back on a life as a professional artist on Visingso that spun over more than four decades. He is one of those who gave all for art for the purpose of art, he was able to create his own universe and open it up for those interested. I believe and hope that there still is a place for this kind of personalities that lets us now that not all need to conform and be conventional and who can show us an alternative view of the world.
Olle Krantz, unknown photographer
Olle Krantz, unknown photographer

The temple estate is still open for visitors, at which one can rent a cabin and live on the estate among his art; in the garden are many of his statues and in the temple are a selection of his paintings. Though it’s been a few years since I visited it I believe it’s still a treat. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any good pictures of the estate but there are several pictures on the home page. 

The temple and art exhibit

The sculptor park

The cottages 

Magnus Reuterdahl

(Quotes translated by Magnus Reuterdahl from an article in JP 1993)
The photo of Olle Krantz is probably from JP though I am not sure, if the owner of the photo wants it removed please send me a mail on inventerare [delete_this]

Urminne nr 7 2008

A new issue of Urminne (7/2008) is available, Urminne is a periodical concerning prehistoric and medieval issues in the Swedish provinces Småland, Öland and Östergötland. All articles are written in Swedish and it is possible to order it from Jonkoping County museum.


In this issue me and colleague; Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay, have an article; Tre oväntade fynd från Ottenby Kungsgård, Öland (Three unexpected finds at Ottenby Kungsgård).

Abstract: This paper presents three somewhat unexpected finds made in connection to the excavation in 2004 of a Pitted Ware site (Neolithic) at Ottenby Royal Manor on the southernmost part of Öland, Sweden. The first find to be treated here was identified during the excavation, and consists of an Early Medieval glass bead of Hungarian origin, of a type not previously documented from the Scandinavian area. The other two finds were identified during the osteological analysis; in the material from the 2004 excavation a Gannet (Morus bassanus, formerly known as Sula bassana) was identified, being the first of this species from a prehistoric context on Öland and the forth find from the large islands in the Baltic Sea altogether. Secondly whilst analysing bones from the 1991 excavation at the site a previously unidentified human bone was identified.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The other articles are (sorry I haven’t translated ´em);

– Jörgen Gustafsson: “Paradis i inland”
– Magnus Reuterdahl & Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay: “Tre oväntade fynd från Ottenby Kungsgård, Öland”
– Michael Dahlin: “Låt gravarna berätta! Några nygamla bronsåldersgravar i södra Tjust”
– Alexandra Nylén & Åsa Jönsson: “Gripeberg. En fornborg i Smålands inland”
– Christina Helander: “Att tända den livsgnista som släckts. En tolkning av två stensättningar i Bäckseda”
– Erika Räf: “Varifrån kom järnet? Om framställning av blästjärn i Östergötland under förhistorien”
– Mikael Nordström: “Död mans dörr och järnåldersdösens gåta”
– Anna Kloo Andersson: “Hälsa och ohälsa under medeltid och efterreformatorisk tid i södra Vätterbygden. Med utgångspunkt från skeletten i Barnarps kyrka”
– Rickard Wennerberg: “Skogens svarta guld. Undersökning av kolframställningsplatser i Nifsarp utanför Eksjö”
– Leif Häggström: Om viljan att kommunicera resultat. En analys av olika aktörers publiceringsfrekvens från en småländsk horisont”

Two books on very different subjects

As I wrote I’ve gotten two new books, as far as I know they’re only available in Swedish. The first is written by Jan Agertz and Adel Vestbo-Franzén at Jonkoping County museum and called Visingsös bebyggelse och landskap i äldre lantmäterikartor och 1500-talets handlingar which translates to the Settlements and landscape of the island Visingsö as recorded in older surveying maps and the 16th century public and legal documents.


The island Visingsö is very interesting from archaeological and historical aspects as very little of the infrastructure have changed since the end 16th century. The place names are the same, a lot of the prehistoric and historic landscape has been preserved ’til today.

A nice and interesting publication that I as yet only have gazed through and I think that I have to rethink some previous ideas that I had. I’ll come back to it as I’ve read it more through fully; there are a few question marks that I’ve scribbled in the marginal.

The book is available through the Jonkoping County museum.  

Another book I’ve been waiting on is Perry Johansson’s Sinofilerna – Kinakunskap och politik från Sven Hedin till Jan Myrdal which translates to The Sinofilerna – Knowledge, collecting and politics – from Sven Hedin to Jan Myrdal. As I understand this is a critical study of the Swedish explorers, scientists etc that has worked in China or with Chinese materials during the 20th century. Johan Gunnar Andersson, Bernhard Karlgren, Sven Hedin and Jan Myrdal have gotten a chapter of critique each. I’ve heard both good and bad about this book so I’ll try to read it with open eyes. For me personally the chapter concerning Johan Gunnar Andersson, who among other things identified the Yangshao culture, is perhaps the most interesting. As I’ve scimmed the pages I’ve noticed a few parts where I think that I have a diffrent poisition or perception than the author, but I’ll hold these thoughts to myself for now.


I’ll come back to this book as soon as possible.


Magnus Reuterdahl

A curiosity

As I probably have mentioned on one occasion or the other I was born and raised in Jonkoping. Part of the heritage that I bring with me from childhood is the things that awoken my interest in past times; this includes periodicals, year books etc concerning Jonkoping and it’s history. This weekend was spent in Stockholm and as I rummaged through some preaviously unread or hastly skimmed through I found an interesting little article in Gudmunds Gillets (Gudmund’s Guild) aka Jonkopings local history association annual from 1989: 67-70.

The article I found was on Mark Twain’s three months visit to Jönköping in 1899.

On the 10th of July Mark Twain, his wife and his daughter Jane arrived in Jonkoping to visit Jonas Henrik Kellgren’s health institute (Institutet för Manuel Sjukbehandling) to get treatment for his rheumatism. The institute main building, called “Gula Sanna”, is ca 150 yrs old and still stands. Kellgren methods towards health was massage and brusque physiotherapy.

Gula Sanna
Gula Sanna

In a letter to his daughter he pictures a gloomy vision of his summer; it seems to have been a boring, dull and somewhat monotonous existence with Kellgrens patients, whom he calls “the damned”.

Thou gloomy he seems to have appreciated the sunsets, in an other letter he wrote; I’ve seen about sixty sunsets here and at least forty of  these surpasses every other I’ve seen. America, the tropics – they have no idea of what a sunset should be like…  *

Most of the time spent in Jonkoping seems to have been bound to the institute, though he made a trip to Visingsö with the ship “Per Brahe” that a few years later went down in a storm, bringing the demise to the Swedish painter John Bauer (one of my personal favorites).

Painting by John Bauer called Tuvstarr, this image is originally from Malmo museum.

While in Jonkoping Mark Twain wrote one novel “my boyhood dream” and one poem “To above old people”. So now I’ll have to look these up, if for nothing else a small distraction.

Magnus Reuterdahl

*) This is not an exact quote; I’ve seen a couple of  different version, sometimes with a few more countries and sometimes with a more metaphoric addition.

Jönköpings hembygdsförening Gudmundsgillet (link in Swedish)

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

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