History

Category archives for History

The Crowning of the Lion

Deep in a single square metre of trench D at Landsjö castle, on the inner edge of the dry moat, we found five identical coins. Boy are they ugly. They’re thin, brittle, made of a heavily debased silver alloy and struck only from one side; they bear no legend and the image at the centre…

A fun thing about historical archaeology, the archaeological study of areas and periods with abundant indigenous written documentation, is when the archaeology challenges the written record. According to the patchily preserved historical sources, Landsjö hamlet was a seat of the high nobility in about 1280 but then became tenant farms no later than 1340. This…

Sweden doesn’t have much of a written record for the Viking Period. We have most of the rune stones but hardly any of the sagas. And thus among Swedish Viking scholars it is not uncommon to be rather poorly read, like I am, in the eddas, the sagas and the other written sources of the…

Castle Owners

My excavations this summer will target the ruins of two Medieval castles near Norrköping. Christian Lovén and I have selected these two because unusually, both have curtain walls (Sw. ringmur) but do not seem to have belonged to the Crown. The High Middle Ages in Sweden are poorly documented in surviving written sources, but in…

Alboin and Cunimund in Hell

Back in 2012 we had a look at the first novel written in Swedish, 1666/68’s Stratonice by Urban Hiärne (1641-1724). He went on to become a high-ranking doctor, founded a hydrotherapeutic spa resort, was instrumental in putting an end to the Swedish witch hunts and fathered 26 children by his three wives. But before all…

The 12-15th centuries are reckoned as Sweden’s Middle Ages. Politically, it was a highly volatile period, where the average tenure of a ruler was less than 11 years. One trait that can look modern to a present-day observer is that some of these tenures were divided up into several separate terms interleaved by other rulers.…

My personal genealogy has never interested me much, knowing as I do that the number of ancestors multiplies by a factor of two with each generation. Thus in AD 1800 someone born in 1975 had about 2^8=256 ancestors of child-bearing age (or slightly fewer if someone has been productive in more than one slot on…

About the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, Greek writers started to offer lists of Seven Wonders that the well-read traveller should see. In the 2nd century BC the Hanging Gardens of Babylon began to show up on such lists. The location of Babylon is well known: on the River Euphrates…

My maternal grandpa Ingemar Leander worked as a sales agent of the Swedish Match Company in Punjab in the 30s before he got married. It was the adventure of his lifetime. Here’s the story of his that I remember best. Once when he went crocodile hunting on the river the party was a little clumsy…

Recently I blogged about historians of science who chronicle scientific debates of the past neutrally and leave it to the reader to find out who (if anyone) turned out to be right in the end. This approach pisses me off because I’m a scientist and I believe that the main point of such debates –…