Today we visited Västra Syninge (Syninge west) a farm with several interesting features, with the help of a map from 1630s and a modern map one can trace a lot of the 17th century landscape – a farm that has moved, across the road?, traces of fossilized fields in form of clearing cairns field edges. Lots of interesting discussions concerning how to interpret these traces, for example their age, how to classify them, what scientific and pedagogic value they have and so fourth. The most rewarding discussion, according to me, was that concerning the remains of an earlier farm. According to Swedish Cultural heritage act, a monument or remain classified as ancient monument/remain must be permanently abandoned. This particular farmstead is permanently abandoned and can be traced back at least to medieval times. On the historic map are two adjacent farms, of which this is one, the other is still where it once was and in use. As the remains are a part of the remaining farm the area isn’t abandoned – how it categorizes relic?
This might seem as an easy question but isn’t, should a part be classed as ancient monument? That would be as putting a dead mans hand on it making it impossible or next to impossible for the farmer to use. Should we class it as something else with another or lower protection risking that it gets destroyed or are there other ways? Lots of interesting questions that has no straight answer.
I’m sorry to say I have no photos of the area, as it was bit rainy and several of the remains were very difficult to photo.
After this we went to Finsta – visiting the, assumed, birth place of Birgitta (Bridget) Birgerstotter or Saint Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden in 1303, a more likely place is Fresta, according to ledgend Birgitta had her first holy vision here in a place called Birgittas Bönegrotta (a cave in which she prayed). Here we discussed the importance of accuracy, it is more or less clear that Birgitta wasn’t born here and therefore didin’t have her first vision here – – So how do that influence on the historic value of this site? Does it loose or reduces its historical value if Birgitta was not born here? Or does the tradition in itself a historical background which gives it a historical value? I think the latter – over long time people has connected this place with Birgitta, and come here as a pilgrimage or as interested tourists and that makes the place a site of interest.
So not to lure people to Finsta – there are no remains of the medieval Finsta that Birger Persson , Birgittas father, owned though there is a small cave that tradition call’s Birgittas. But if you do visit don’t miss the wonderful Iron Age grave fields just a few hundred meters away and the medieval church.
I’m a member of the society Runica et Mediævalia (link in Swedish). The Society was formed in 1990 and aims to promote research on runes and medieval languages (mainly Scandinavian), culture and society, primarily through the issuance of the publication series Runic et Mediævalia etc. As a member I get the publications every now and then as they are beeing published, last week two books arrived; The first is; Den medeltida skriftkulturen i Sverige (The medieval writing culture in Sweden) – Inger Larsson [ed.], This is a book I’ll come back to in future post. The second one is Kung Magnus och hans smädesnamn Smek (King Magnus and his libel nick name Smek = caress, stroke, fondle or…) by Olle Ferm.
The last is the one I currently read, it concerns a factoid regarding king Magnus Eriksson libel nick name Smek, where the nick name has been interpret as proof king Magnus was homosexual. Magnus Eriksson was the Swedish king between 1319-1363. Among other things he got conned by the Danish king Valdemar Attedag and by being so lost the province Scania to Denmark and he was accused of being homosexual by Saint Birgitta of Vadstena and others. Due to the accusations an interpretation of the nick name Smek was made as meaning fondle, caress, stroke was made, in the meaning that he liked to fondle other men. Olle Ferm brings forth another interpretation where Smek rather has the meaning “someone who has been conned by flattery”, i.e. King Valdemar conned him out of Scania with flattery.
Olle Ferm has produced a kind of historic detective book that is a pleasant and interesting read, giving a background to the word Smek and how it’s been interpreted through the ages, but also on the political situation of the time as well as on history scholars and their work. Wheatear or not king Magnus was gay or not is not something the author studies in this work, at least not yet – I haven’t finished it yet. Evan though I haven’t finished it I can recommend this to those who are interested in the history and politics of medieval Sweden as well as to those who like the study of words and language.
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.
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.
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).