Monday, June 16, 2014

Return To Sweden, Part 15

This 15th installment update submitted by David Anderson includes the village of Arnäs near Örnsköldsvik, still along the High Coast of Sweden.

If you missed the near real time trip updates webpage, go to Trip Highlights .  Editor

June 16, Monday

The E4 between Örnsköldsvik in the north and Uppsala in the south has got to contain some of the boringnest stretch of road anywhere.  Except for Höga Kusten bron there is little to break the monotony of the coniferous-birch forest that stretches for miles on end. 


I exaggerate a little, because there is a town or two and there’s Skuleberget, but not too much else.  E4 was after all built for functionality to move people and goods from here to there, not sightseeing.  If you want to sight see, get off the new E4, and drive the old E4 right of way, it will slow you down and you will see a whole lot more of small towns and farms.

Small barns at Arnäs kyrka near Örnsköldsvik

In the time that my ancestors lived here Church attendance was mandatory, regardless of the distance you lived from your parish church.  Parishes were generally small enough so everyone shouldn’t have a problem in getting to church on time.  Some of the larger parishes built small barns that horses could be sheltered in while the people were attending church.  A few of the parishes still have these small barns standing.  Boats were used on Siljan in Dalarna to get people to church.

At Arnäs kyrka near Örnsköldsvik the small barns are still standing as is the parish grainary.  The grainary was built and maintained communally.  It was built to allow farmers a place to keep their grain.  The buildings were built on piers, off the ground, to discourage rats and mice from entering and eating the grain.  Another problem, theft and pilferage by individuals, was addressed by the fact that to enter the grainary required three specific people with specific keys to open the door.  One key was needed for the padlock, while two other keys were required to unlock the door locks.

Between Hudiksvall and Söderhamn just east of E4 is the small community of Enånger.  It is definitely worth seeing since many fine old buildings still exist, including a “Medletidskyrka”. 

The church was built in the 15th century, and I wanted to see it. There is a photo that was taken of it about 1900 on flickr (Enånger Old Church), and it is interesting to note the increase in trees that are found there now when compared with the time the photo was taken.  Forested land has increased dramatically in Sweden, while the amount of farmed land has decreased.  Sweden produces only about 50% of it’s own food, from what I have heard. 

Behind the church is a very small two room jail that was used to house prisoners or the insane on their way to prison or the mental hospital.  I couldn’t imagine being housed in small rooms for very long.  Very small windows high up on the doors and walls allowed minimal light, and in winter it would not only be dark, but freezing since there did not appear to be any heat source.  I wonder how people would have survived a few nights incarceration in there in winter.  I have worked on the Lost Alaskans Project (Morningside Hospital ) and this small jail in Sweden gave me an idea of what the mentally ill in Alaska faced before transport to Portland, Oregon. 

I would like to thank all of you who are following me around in Sweden, and am glad to have received your comments.  I wish you all the best of Mid-Summers!

David Anderson

No comments:

Post a Comment