It is Easter Monday, one degree below zero, a grey world, when we go for some ruins in the Sunnerbo District, the Western part of Kronoberg. It is a beautiful area, cranes in the air and on the fields, the graceful river Lagan, and loads of historic sites. The area carries certainly a heavy history – of war, infrastructure, religion and fight for independence.
Our first stop is Stenhusholmen Castle, at the shore of the lake Vidöstern, close to the mansion Toftaholm. The castle, with powerful stone walls, was built in late medieval times, and owned by the knight Stenbock. According to a (not really specified) source, the King Gustav Vasa lost two expensive rings when he fled through a tunnel under the ditch to the mainland. Well. We search. But we do not find the tunnel. Nor do find the jewelry.
Stenholmen/Toftaholm has a strategic location, close to the old road (Lagastigen) and the waterways – very important to control trade and to protect Sunnerbo and Sweden from the Danes. Tofta skans is located one kilometer north of Stenhusholmen/Toftaholm, and was built to fight the Danes in the 17th century. We had a lot of issues with these guys at that time – just before the end of the war, in 1658, when Sweden finally closed the deal – since then Scania, Halland and Blekinge has been included in the Swedish territory.
Tofta skans is a barbican in the shape of a fivepointed star, it looks more like a ritual site than a military area. And it has to be said – the barbican has never used for combat, it is just a symbol for the fear of the Danes.
Yes, Denmark… “Something is rotten in the Kingdom”, according to Shakespeare. Torsborg, our next stop, a few kilometers south, was actually built by the Danish Army. They had conquered Sunnerbo in the 1450’s and decided to raise a fortification. A Swedish army, led by Tord Bonde, defeated the Danes. The castle Danaborg did just exist for a few months, and the ruin has got its name Torsborg since then.
At Hallsjö Church, further south, we meet another history – the religious. The stone church was built at late medieval times, replacing an older wooden church. The ruin is well-preserved – the walls of the hall are still there, and you can even see parts of the porch.
Hallsjö has probably been a religious site also for pagan cult. It was common to build Christian churches at pagan cult centres – it was easy to replace the hammer of Thor with the cross of Christ. There is also a sacred well in the area, and just a few steps south, there is a huge grave field from Viking age. The mounds are perfect, symmetric and well-shaped, they look like a land art installation.
We got a lot of knowledge from this trip. Sunnerbo is a vital historic region, the impact of the Danes is obvious, and we caught sight of the smooth transition from pagan religion to Christianity.