Category Archive 'Sweden'
04 Sep 2022

Viking Runestones of the Swedish Countryside

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15 May 2021

Disgusting Food Museum

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“A jug of rice wine infused with two hundred baby rodents; a dessert made of millions of crushed flies. Jiayang Fan spoke with the creator of the Disgusting Food Museum, in Sweden, which is located in a shopping mall and is designed with an eye for Instagram. But the playful surroundings belie the museum’s more serious messages about who gets to decide which foods are “disgusting,” and how, if we want to live more lightly on the planet, we need to broaden our palates. Just maybe don’t start out with cans of surströmming, a fermented herring. The museum director informed Fan that these fish have induced more vomiting than any other item at the museum.”

09 Mar 2020

“Kvinnors Minnen” (Womens’ Memories)

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Kvinnors minnen from Dalarnas museum on Vimeo.

In the old days, Swedish women would take the cattle and goats for summer grazing in the hills. It looks like the film footage would have been taken pretty late, in the 1950s or 1960s. Country people worked hard, but they also had a lot to enjoy that’s missing from the modern urban environment.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

26 Oct 2019

Swedish Scholar Dates Beowulf to 550 A.D.

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Pictorial Stone from the Church in Bro in Gotland.

A year old story, but news to me. Bo Gräslund, a prominent Swedish archaeologist, published a book, arguing on several grounds for an earlier date of composition for Beowulf. What a pity that J.R.R. Tolkien is not here to critique and review it!

Medieval Histories:

[W]e are met with a catalogue of the material culture of the late migration to early Vendel period. With its gold, rings, ring-swords, swine-helmets, and chain-mails, we are obviously transported way back in time, either prior to or around the period 536 to 50. Secondly, it is demonstrated that several of these particular artefacts are virtually unknown in an early Anglo-Saxon context. Not until the Viking Age, do we meet “rings” in the archaeological assemblies in Britain. Nevertheless, they are mentioned 44 times in the poem, and whenever they are further characterised, they are made of gold. How should an English poet c. 700 be acquainted with this particular cultural item – golden rings – which is never found in a British context, and which disappeared in Scandinavia in the late 6th century, Gräslund asks? As for ring-swords, it is important to note, that while three ring-swords have been found in England, most (77) have been found in France, Germany, and Scandinavia. And one of those – the one from Sutton Hoo – is probably Swedish, he writes. At the same time, he notes that the only chain mail ever found in an Anglo-Saxon archaeological context is from the same grave, making it a unique item in an English context from c. 400 – 1000. Finally, Gräslund draws attention to the fact that the descriptions of the cremations of Hnæfs and Beowulf have a sensual character, which makes it mind-boggling to imagine that a Christian poet c. 700 was able to describe these events in such details. Thus, the material culture of the poem does not fit at all with an Anglo-Saxon origin, Gräslund concludes.

In the second part of the book, Gräslund discusses the ethnonyms in the poem and argues that the main group, to which Beowulf belongs – the Geats – in all likelihood came from Gotland. Seafaring islanders, known also as wederas, the latter epithet has been consistently translated as wind, weather, or storm. However, much more likely, writes Gräslund convincingly, the prefix in weder-geatas refers to Proto-Germanic wedrą, meaning ram – Old English weder, Old High German wetar, Old Norse veðr etc. It so happens, that rams were significant symbols of the people from Gotland, as witnessed in documents, sagas, and in the official seal.

Gräslund also touches upon the Christian varnish and concludes (as have others before him) that it seems to have been added as a gloss. In its core, the poem is heathen. This conclusion leads to Gräslund’s next hypothesis that the poem was composed as an oral epic in the mid-sixth century and probably in Gotland; but also that it would have circulated widely, for instance in a Swedish context at Uppsala.

We know Rædwald of East Anglia was married to a pagan princess who worked assiduously to make her husband relapse. We also know, that his presumed grave at Sutton Hoo held an assemblage of artefacts with a clear Swedish origin. Were these objects – the helmet, the chain-mail and the sword – bridal gifts of a Swedish princess? Did she bring a bard along in her entourage? After which the oral poem circulated until it was written down by an Anglicising and Christianising scribe c. 700? We shall never know, but the hypothesis fits the facts as well as Ockham’s razor.


No English translation of Beowulfkvädet. Den nordiska bakgrunden. so far. I looked.

22 May 2019

The Swedish Government Wants to Ban Runes – Norse Religion and Heritage Enthusiasts Are Upset

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Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson wants to ban Runes and other symbols of the Pagan Norse Religion.



The government is currently investigating the possibility of banning the use of Norse runes. It is reported that the Minister of Justice, Morgan Johansson (Socialist) is behind the initiative. Among members of the Asa-samfundet, the organization of contemporary followers of the Norse Pagan Religion, and people with an interest in the Norse cultural heritage, the outrage is great about what would amount to a restriction on, among other things, religious freedom. A petition has been started and on Friday a demonstration is planned outside the Parliament House in protest against the proposal.

The background of the proposal is said to be the consideration that neo-Nazis in Sweden use the so-called Tyr-rune as a symbol. The fact that this is is the case is something that neither Norse Pagan-believers nor those interested in cultural heritage are particularly happy about.

It is thought, however, that it is not reasonable to deal with this by banning an entire written language and to also violate the freedom of constitutional and convention-protected religion. When the government applies other meanings to the runic script than the real ones, it make the same mistakes as the Nazis, one points out.

“Our attitude is that prejudices and errors are best cured with knowledge and facts! It is not appropriate to try to ban the our symbols on the basis of their own prejudices. To forbid them would be to ban portions of our own history, culture and beliefs – and our right to express them because of political interpretations that have nothing to do with the Ancient Norse Religion!

Contemporary political activists have no right to destroy the expressions of a religion and culture as old as the first evidence of the first human residents of the Norse Region, posted the Asa-samfundet on its website.

According to the government proposal, ancient Norse symbols and jewelry would also be banned as inciting animosity against ethnic groups. This would apply to the Thor’s hammer Mjölner, Odin’s Valknut and the Vegvisir.

The Asa-samfundet has started a campaign against the government’s plans, called “The Rune Battle” with the slogan “Do not touch our runes”. A petition has been started which at the time of writing had gathered nearly 6,000 signatures.

On Friday, May 24, between 14:00 and 16:00, a demonstration is also scheduled at Slottsbacken in connection with which the petition will be submitted to the government.

Interest in the Old Norse has grown strongly in recent times, also internationally, including TV series such as Vikings, The Last Kingdom and Game of Thrones.

Anyone who wants to sign the petition for the protection of the Norse cultural heritage and the right to practice the Old Norse religion can do it HERE.

Anyone who wants to participate in Friday’s manifestation in Stockholm will find more information about the event HERE.

09 Mar 2019

Kulning: Swedish Cow Calling

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Atlas Obscura:

Less than a century ago, Sweden’s remote forests and mountain pastures swelled with women’s voices each summer. As dusk approached, the haunting calls of kulning echoed through the trees in short, cascading, lyricless phrases. Though often quite melodic, these weren’t simply musical expressions. They were messages intended for a responsive audience: wayfaring cattle. Kulning was a surefire way to hurry the herds home at the end of the day.

According to Susanne Rosenberg, professor and head of the folk music department at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and kulning expert, the vocal technique likely dates back to at least the medieval era. In the spring, farmers sent their livestock to a small fäbod, or remote, temporary settlement in the mountains, so cows and goats could graze freely. Women, young and old, accompanied the herds, living in relative isolation from late May until early October. Far from the village, they tended to the animals, knitted, crafted whisks and brooms, milked the cows, and made cheese—often working sixteen hour days. Life on the fäbod was arduous work, but it was freeing, too. “It was only women, and they had all this free space to make a lot of noise,” says Jinton. “They had their own paradise.”

The herds grazed during the daytime, wandering far from the cottages, and thus needed to be called in each night. Women developed kulning to amplify the power of their voices across the mountainous landscape, resulting in an eerie cry loud enough to lure livestock from their grazing grounds.
One should always take caution when hanging out with someone kulning, as it can’t be done quietly. Rosenberg, who’s researched the volume of kulning, says it can reach up to 125 decibels—which, she warns, is dangerously loud for someone standing next to the source. Comparable to the pitch and volume of a dramatic soprano singing forte, kulning can be heard by an errant cow over five kilometers away. This explains how the song might reach a distant herd, but what prompts animals to trot over remains a bit of a mystery. “That we have to ask the cows!” says Rosenberg. “But it’s really no stranger than calling a dog.”

Much like trained pets, cows feel loyalty to the humans who care for them. According to Rosenberg, it only takes one solid affinity between a cow and a woman to bring the whole herd home. “There’s always at least one cow that is the smart cow, in a herd,” she says. “She’s like the leader cow.” Once this particularly enlightened cow hears the call, Rosenberg suspects, she heads toward the source, encouraging the rest of the herd to follow suit.

To do this at such great volume requires learning the proper technique, which, it turns out, is a far cry from that of classical or popular singing. “It’s more like calling,” says Rosenberg. “Like if you see somebody on the other end of the street, it’s the way you would use your voice naturally to try to get their attention.” Kulning was taught orally. Young women learned from the old, imitating the songs of their elders and slowly adding individual flair and vocal ornamentation. Rosenberg, who now teaches kulning in a classroom setting, says the key to the call is improvisation. “You have to have variation, because you never know how long you’re going to be calling for.” In other words, you have to keep singing until the cows come home.

Cows, however, weren’t the only ones on the receiving end of kulning. The call could ward off predators in the woods, and served as a form of communication between women who were otherwise isolated from one another. If a cow went missing, for instance, a woman on one farm might cry out using a particular melody to pass the message to those within earshot. Once the cow had been located, her far-off neighbor would convey the news back to her in song.


31 Oct 2018

How Finland Will Save Sweden

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20 Oct 2018

Queen Saga Speaks

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Queen Saga I

As told to the Guardian:

Every summer, my parents, my six-year-old brother and I go to stay in a cabin by a lake called Vidöstern in Tånnö in southern Sweden, not far from where we live. I like to build sandcastles on the beach, or find rocks to skim across the water and see how many times I can make them bounce. Mamma says she used to play and swim in the lake when she was little, too.

On 15 July this year, I was playing on the beach with my friend, when Daddy told me to get a buoy from the cabin: he said the water level in the lake was very shallow and we had to warn any boats that might come along because it was dangerous. He said it had been the hottest summer for 260 years.
Sweden’s ‘true queen’, 8, pulls ancient sword from lake
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I waded into the water and it was very soft on my skin and refreshing, a little bit cool but not too cold. It was a nice feeling because the sun was shining and I was very hot. Daddy was begging me to rush so he could watch the World Cup final, but I like to take my time about things so I ignored him.

I was crawling along the bottom of the lake on my arms and knees, looking for stones to skim, when my hand and knee felt something long and hard buried in the clay and sand. I pulled it out and saw that it was different from the sticks or rocks I usually find. One end had a point, and the other had a handle, so I pointed it up to the sky, put my other hand on my hip and called out, “Daddy, I’ve found a sword!”

I felt like a warrior, but Daddy said I looked like Pippi Longstocking. The sword felt rough and hard, and I got some sticky, icky brown rust on my hands. It started to bend and Daddy splashed up to me, and said I should let him hold it. It was my sword and now he was taking it away! I gave it to him in the end.

I ran to my mamma and my mormor – my grandma – and some other relatives who were all sitting outside having fika, which is Swedish for having a sit-down with coffee and cookies. I was yelling, “I found a sword, I found a sword!” Daddy went to show it to our neighbours, whose family has lived in the village for more than 100 years, and they said it looked like a Viking sword. Daddy didn’t get to watch the football in the end.

When he showed it to an archaeologist, she said she had goosebumps and that it was at least 1,000 years old. Actually, they now think it’s 1,500 years old – from before the Vikings. She called it “sensational” and said nothing like this had ever been found in Scandinavia before, and that maybe I had found it because of the low water levels. She made me promise not to tell anyone because she and other archaeologists wanted to see if there was anything else buried in the lake; they didn’t want anyone else to come and take the treasures.
Experience: I run a hospice for animals
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It wasn’t hard to keep the secret. But I did tell one of my best friends, Emmy, and now I know I can trust her because she didn’t tell anybody, except her parents – but they promised not to tell anybody else, so that’s OK.

This month, the archaeologists finally came to search the rest of the lake and they found a brooch that is as old as my sword, and a coin from the 18th century. Then they announced the news and I could finally tell everyone at school. I came back from gym class and the whiteboard said, “Saga’s sword” and there were balloons, and the whole class got to have ice-cream.

I had to give the sword to the local museum – Daddy explained that it’s part of history and important to share it with others. I felt “boo” that it’s gone away, but “yay” that other people will get to see it. I’m going to try to raise some money to make a replica sword that I can keep.

People on the internet are saying I am the queen of Sweden, because in the legend of King Arthur, he was given a sword by a lady in a lake, and that meant he would become king. I am not a lady – I’m only eight – but it’s true I found a sword in the lake. I wouldn’t mind being queen for a day, but when I grow up I want to be a vet. Or an actor in Paris.


Original story.

06 Oct 2018

“All Hail Saga, New Queen of Sweden!”


The Local (Sweden):

An eight-year-old Swedish-American girl came across an exciting find swimming at her local lake, when she pulled an ancient sword from its depths.

“It’s not every day that one steps on a sword in the lake!” Mikael Nordström from Jönköpings Läns Museum said when explaining the significance of the find.

But that’s exactly what happened to Saga Vanecek, who found the relic at the Vidöstern lake in TÃ¥nnö, SmÃ¥land earlier this summer.

“I was outside in the water, throwing sticks and stones and stuff to see how far they skip, and then I found some kind of stick,” Saga told The Local.

“I picked it up and was going to drop it back in the water, but it had a handle, and I saw that it was a little bit pointy at the end and all rusty. I held it up in the air and I said ‘Daddy, I found a sword!’ When he saw that it bent and was rusty, he came running up and took it,” she continued.

The water at the lake by the family’s summer house was low this year due to drought, which may have been part of the reason Saga was able to reach the sword. Because of this, the family was putting a buoy out in the lake to warn other boats of an underwater slab of concrete which was dangerous in the low water levels.

“I asked Saga to bring the buoy, but she was taking her time like a kid does, playing in the water,” her father, Andy Vanecek, recalled. “I was getting impatient because the World Cup game was about to start!”

At first he thought his daughter had found a stick or a branch, but realized from the way it bent that it could be a sword — although even then, he thought it could be a modern toy. The family asked their neighbours and one of Vanecek’s colleagues, who has an interest in history and archaeology, and they said the relic was likely authentic and should be reported to authorities, which the Vaneceks did.

It was initially reported that the sword was at least 1,000 years old, but the museum later contacted The Local to clarify that they believe it may be even older, estimated to date back to the 5th or 6th century AD, pre-Viking Age. The find has prompted huge interest from archaeologists and historians.

“It’s about 85 centimentres long, and there is also preserved wood and metal around it,” explained Mikael Nordström from the museum. “We are very keen to see the conservation staff do their work and see more of the details of the sword.”

Anyone hoping to see the sword will have to wait at least a year, Nordström told The Local, explaining: “The conservation process takes quite a long time because it’s a complicated environment with wood and leather, so they have several steps to make sure it’s preserved for the future.”

“Why it has come to be there, we don’t know,” he said. “When we searched a couple of weeks ago, we found another prehistoric object; a brooch from around the same period as the sword, so that means – we don’t know yet – but perhaps it’s a place of sacrifice. At first we thought it could be graves situated nearby the lake, but we don’t think that any more.”



A number of people drew the obvious conclusion:




HT: Karen L. Myers.

20 Jun 2018

Britain Has Knife Attacks; Sweden Has Grenades

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Bombings increased significantly in 2015, with Swedish police investigating around 100-150 explosions. There were over 30 explosions reported in the Swedish city of Malmö alone by August 2015, up from a total of 25 in all of 2014. Malmö police have consequently warned about undetonated grenades in the city. According to Swedish police, the use of hand grenades in crime is unprecedented in all comparable European and non-European countries, and the only countries with similar characteristics are those with warlike conditions.



The devices are easily obtained, says Reine Bergland of Stockholm police. They can be bought from gangs for just a couple of hundred Swedish kroner (about £20).

“Sometimes when they buy weapons they get grenades as part of the deal. They throw in a couple of hand grenades, so to speak.”

The rise in possession of hand grenades – mainly unused stock from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s – has come to symbolise Sweden’s heated debate about violent crime as it heads towards an election in September.

The rate of violent crime in the suburbs of Sweden’s big cities has worsened in recent years, in what officials blame on rising gang-related crime.

There were 306 shootings last year, which left 41 people dead. In 2011, there were 17 fatalities.

The violence has turned some parts of Stockholm into “no-go zones” for paramedics, says Henrik Johansson, former head of Sweden’s paramedics union.

“People who live in these areas are very scared to call the police or get help from ambulances. They are scared about consequences for them and their families.”

Police have acknowledged 60 or so “vulnerable areas” but reject the description of “no-go zones”, a highly loaded term in Sweden.

After all, violent crime in Sweden and who is to blame for it has become an ideological battlefield.

In February 2017 US President Donald Trump controversially linked the problem to the influx of migrants to Sweden.

“Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” he said.

A self-proclaimed humanitarian superpower, Sweden took in the highest number of asylum seekers per capita during the migrant crisis of 2015. Many were refugees fleeing war and abuses in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. …

Sweden’s government denies it is immigrants who are causing the rise in crime. (! — DZ)

“The people who are causing problems for us today, the vast majority of them are born in Sweden, and that’s not a notion of migration. That’s an issue of integration and an issue of social inclusion,” said Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, a centre-left Social Democrat.

31 May 2018

Swedish Nyckelharpa


HT: Karen L. Myers.

24 Apr 2018

Speaking of the Trojan War…

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