Purse Torment Tavern

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Dear Reader Dveej asked me to write some more about the Purse Torment Tavern south of Stockholm. Its name is Pungpinan which is pretty funny, as pung doesn’t just mean purse or pouch, but in modern Swedish more commonly scrotum. The name might thus be translated “Purse Torment” or “Pain in the Ball Sack”, or even “Scrotum Torture”. (Boy am I gonna get hits from the S/M porn surfers now.)

The heyday of the Purse Torment Tavern lasted from about 1670 to 1805. This was back in the era of horse-drawn carriages, when Sweden was covered by a dense grid of rest stops where you could change horses, eat, drink and sleep. Apparently, the prices at Pungpinan were a bit on the stiff side, and so tended to torment your coin purse.

Pungpinan, being an expensive place, didn’t have the best reputation while active. But after it closed down, its name lived on in a deeper kind of infamy because of four murders committed there during the night between 4 and 5 March 1803. Soldier Peter Almqvist had previously done time for burglary. Attempting to rob the tavern, he ended up killing the landlady Maja Schröder, her serving girl and both her children using an axe. Almqvist was executed five months later at the gallows’ hill right by modern-day Gullmarsplan.

This entry was scooped by Dear Reader Martin L while it was waiting in the pipe. I usually set my entries to come on-line at the time when New Yorkers do their morning web surf.

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Comments

  1. #1 Per V
    October 31, 2008

    There are actually several suburbs south of Stockholm with names after taverns or inns, e.g. Midsommarkransen ‘Midsummer wreath’ and Tallkrogen ‘the Pine Inn’. By the way, “names of the close horizon” sounds much more poetic than “närhorisontsnamn”.

  2. #2 Martin R
    October 31, 2008

    Aha, I mistranslated Tallkrogen as “Pine Crag”. An academic folk etymology that a friend of mine tricked me into while he lived there. (-;

  3. #3 Lars L
    October 31, 2008

    “(Boy am I gonna get hits from the S/M porn surfers now.)”
    You will pass us the stats, wont you?

  4. #4 Mikael Hiort af Ornäs
    October 31, 2008

    An interesting trivia on the period you mention: In the end of the 18th century, there were around 70,000 inhabitants of Stockholm and as many as about 900 official (!) pubs, restaurants and taverns that had permission to sell booze. So, there were no lack of inspiration for the creators of today’s suburbs ;)

  5. #5 derek
    October 31, 2008

    The area called Elephant & Castle, in South London, is also named after a tavern, apparently started by a former employee of the East India Company (hence the tavern sign of an elephant with a howdah, the “castle”, on its back).

    Many roundabouts in Britain are, naturally, the sites of former crossroads, which in turn were profitable sites for coaching inns, so the roundabouts often have tavern names.

  6. #6 eleanora
    October 31, 2008

    Martin:”The name might thus be translated “Purse Torment” or “Pain in the Ball Sack”, or even “Scrotum Torture”. (Boy am I gonna get hits from the S/M porn surfers now.)”

    Lovely soft leather, in the right shape for a drawstring purse. What else are you going to do with all the leftovers from castrating livestock each year?

    Lots of hits is a good thing, isn’t it? (Although hits to the scrotum is a different matter.)

  7. #7 Martin R
    October 31, 2008

    If I mail you a piece of cod, would you make me a protective codpiece?

  8. #8 eleanora
    November 1, 2008

    I don’t think that rotting fish would protect you from hits to the scrotum… or do you mean a piece of pung? Even boiled I think pung leather would be too soft to protect you (although a couple sewn together would make an intersting [but not very protective] condom).

    You might be better off with the fish. The smell would be so bad no one would get close enough to hit you :)

  9. #9 Martin R
    November 1, 2008

    Lars, the stats aren’t terribly impressive so far, but I did get a hit from someone who googled for “Swedish bookworm Scrotum Torture”.

  10. #10 Mikael Hiort af Ornäs
    November 2, 2008

    ‘I did get a hit from someone who googled for “Swedish bookworm Scrotum Torture”.’

    Hahaha! Splendid! Keep us posted :)

    BTW, I wonder what that guy (I presume it’s a guy) was looking for?

  11. #11 Mikael
    November 2, 2008

    Interesting, as my father and my uncle grew up in the Pungpinan block in the 1950′s-70′s. At one occasion (probably in the 50′s) my grandfather found an old rusty key of 18th century fashion in the yard. It might have some connection to the old tavern, and been around at the time of the Almqvist-murders. The key is still kept as an heirloom

  12. #12 Martin R
    November 2, 2008

    Mikael, the mind boggles. I always study the search terms with great interest. Somebody just came here after searching for “German royal incest”.

  13. #13 Annika Korsgaard
    May 14, 2009

    Hi Martin

    I am an Australian archaeologist and I am currently doing my thesis on Aust. historic pubs/ inns/ taverns. Are there any published articles in English on the Purse Torment Tavern? I am researching international pub/ tavern sites as well, so if you know of any from Scandanavia I would really appreciate you letting me know (particularly about papers in English).
    Many thanks, Annika

  14. #14 Martin R
    May 14, 2009

    Annika, I know of no archaeological work at Pungpinan. A house still stands there.

    A recent paper in English about a tavern excavation in Sweden is “What was served at the Koffsan Inn during the 18th century?” by Ulrica Söderlind, in the 2007 volume Cultural interaction between east and west, ISBN 978 917 155 474 1.

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