The 1640 coin I found the other day came to light at an opportune moment. For some time, my wife and I had planned a trip to Falun for the weekend just passed, and that’s where the coin is from.
The great copper mine of Falun was an important part of Sweden’s economic backbone during the country’s century as a major player on the European scene 1611-1718. The mine’s origins are lost in prehistory, but paleobotany suggests that some small-scale ore extraction took place already in the 8th century, and the written record starts in the 13th century. Falun boomed in the 16th and 17th century, with the landscape being denuded for miles around by sulphur pollution and the demand for wood used in fire-setting.
The quarter öre I picked up in Boo was struck in Avesta the year before Falun received its town charter in 1641. We passed Avesta on the train to Falun and back, and when we got to Falun we went straight to the mine where the coin’s metal was mined.
The mine is a huge crater in the hillside, surrounded by the top structures of a number of mine shafts from the 17th century onward that post-date the open-pit mining. It’s incredibly dramatic. And I really wonder where all the mass they’ve taken out of that pit is now! Have they carted it off for roadworks!?
The mine was closed down in 1992 and is now a World Heritage Site, well worth a visit. Visitors can descend into one of the shafts if they wish, which we did not. Also recommended is the Dalarna County Museum not far away in Falun town, which has very fine exhibitions on regional history, art and craftwork, as well as a good restaurant & cafeteria. It is a charming characteristic of Swedish county museums that they tend to combine archaeology, history, folkways and art. Some have natural history as well.