The song of Transjö glassworks

Yesterday Lundgren and I went to the Eastern parts of Kronoberg to pick some ruins – the tar piles of Hässle and Djupemosse, the old village of Läseboda and the glassworks of Transjö.

Transjö was definitely the highlight – a powerful chimney still up in the air and some really distinct foundation walls. The area is polluted from led and arsenic (the mushrooms that occur in the movie below were picked far away from the old industry…)

 

A ruin is the present in drag

52 ruins #27–38

It has been an awesome weekend in the south-west of Region Kronoberg. Hedrén, Lundgren and I visited 12 ruins of different kinds – the highlights were Gustafsfors’ works (industries, powerstation and dungeon)Byvärma northern åbro (an old bridge and floodway) and Skagaholm (a medieval castle in a tremendous setting).

We stayed in the area one night in a mobile trailer – that fits our nomadic lifestyle perfect – in Sjöared on the border between Småland and Halland.

Please enjoy the movie below. I composed and recorded the sountrack to the film a few years ago, and I found that it carries the same feeling as the lifestyle of a ruin tracker. The danish title in translation: A bullet in the fog.

 

A Wicked Game

Ruin # 22-26

Third of June, and another ruin trip with my enthusiastic colleagues. The starting point this time is Huseby bruk, where I and Lundgren meet up with Hedrén, who had ridden his speedy cyclocross bike from his home village Hunna.

We visit one prehistoric gravefield (close to Vislanda rectory) and three old churches – ÖjaVislanda and – the best one – Skatelöv. The location is beautiful, the living nature and the view over the poetic Skatelövsfjärden. (The former name of Skatelövsfjärden was probably Odensjö, the lake of the pagan god Odin, and on the opposite side of the lake you can find Blodberget, the Blood Mountain, with grave fields, erected stones and probably an old sacrificial grove.)

It is not much left of the old church in Skatelöv, some foundation stones that mark the place for the building, but the cemetery is interesting. We find the grave of Bengt Berg, the guy who brought the Canada goose to Sweden (not very flattering…). But the most prominent grave is the huge, decorated stone of Gunnar Olof Hyltén Cavallius, a local ethnologist.

Another spectacular object is a flat rune stone (brought to the new church), the text says: Bose hacked the church. Bose hacked the stones for the church of the people in Skatelöv. The inscription is ugly, one of the worse I have seen when it comes to runes…

The Rune Stone in Skatelöv

Another really interesting ruin is Huseby charcoal burning plant. During World War II it became difficult to get fuel to cars and buses. The solution was to use generator gas, based on charcoal, which was complicated, filthy and dangerous: The risk for fire was extremely high, and in 1941 the decision was made that every car had to have a fire extinguisher and ten liters of water on board. No one used generator gas after the end of the war. (Look at the enthusiastic inspection btw!)

When we drive home, we are actually halfway. We have visited 26 of the 52 ruins of the year. We feel it in our chests. A Wicked Game.

Master Påvel

#14–21

It is late in May, a hot and clear morning. The world is shimmering around us, the massive green colors of the trees, and the special smell of a nature turning to life, pollen in the air. Life.

HedrénLundgren and I are heading for the ruins of the southern part of the Kronoberg Region – around the lake Åsnen and the villages Ryd, Tingsryd, Urshult and Rävemåla. The area is well-known for the apple farms, the climate varying from the rest of the area, and Åsnen, partly a national park built up of small bays and islands.

We visit three old, abandoned churches: ÄlmebodaTorpa and Kalvsvik. Älmeboda is the most beautiful, but the history of the poor Torpa church is perhaps more interesting.

The locals had limited interest in the church, many of them chose other churches in the neighborhood for weddings, funerals and services. This obstinate attitude led to an even more complicated relationship between the community and the priests, and the church had to shut down in 1784.

Since the southern area of Region Kronoberg is located close to the former Danish border, ruins of castles, fortifications and barbicans are quite common. You can find Hönshylte Castle, probably a property of the Bishop in Växjö in medieval times, close to Ryd.

In medieval times, it was common to build castles on islands in strategic sounds, a way to monitor the transports. This was the case for the Kungsholmen castle (northwest from Urshult) and the Bosholmen casle (close to Vemboö), both in the lake Åsnen. In order to investigate these ruins you have to take a swim.

The trip consisted of two industrial ruins – the Stenfors ironworks and Master Påvel’s glassworks and mill. Stenfors is a beautiful ruin, close to Tingsryd, highly elaborated compared to most ruins in the region.

Master Påvel’s glassworks and mill is the opposite. You find it far out in the outback, the closest village is Ryd, and it is not much left of the industry – a few stone piles and a foundation wall. The glasswork was used during not more than three years, between 1628 and 1631.

Master Påvel's Glassworks and Mill

It was run by a German or Dutch glassblower, the skilled Master Påvel, and the production was of high class. He started up some more works in the area before he left for Dagö. Estonia.

The Fivepointed Star

#9–13

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 ShakespeareTorsborg, 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.

The People’s Park

Ruin #5–8

The project 52 ruins continues.

It is a beautiful evening in March, we take a coffee at the new bridges (still under construction actually) at Kronoberg’s castle. It is located at the shore of Helgasjön (The Holy Lake), and was from the beginning a wooden castle for the bishop. However, most people associate Kronoberg with the rebel Nils Dacke who spent Christmas at the castle in 1542. But Dacke’s rising was stroked down, and the king Gustav Vasa and his sons built the new, stone castle as a part of the military defense against Denmark.

Kronoberg's Castle

Since me and Lundgren do not like the monarchy we take a piss in the holy lake.

The area is full of historic and prehistoric sites. A few kilometers south from the castle, at Lilla Fjäll, there is a quite huge grave field, and the contemporary cemetery further south captures several stories about death. Christian graves, Islamic graves, Baha’i graves – and a huge stone pile from the Bronze Age, Domfällerör.

It is dark when we arrive, but the cairn is illuminated. It is impossible to understand this kind of sites without the poem Aftonland(Night land) by the author Pär Lagerkvist, the Noble Prize winner.

The last stop is the People’s park in Växjö. A really new ruin, it was torn down just a few weeks ago. The only thing left is actually the entrance, even the fences are gone. A People’s park should be connected with party, leisure and the labor movement. I get the feeling of the legend Hjalmar Branting, Swedish Prime Minister around 1920, when I look at the ruin.

The People's Park