History

Category archives for History

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…

Three Ways To Depose Karl Knutsson

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…

An Attempt To Move The Hanging Gardens

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…

Grandpa’s Gruesome Punjab Crocodile Tale

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 –…

I like reading about the history of science, including my own discipline. But there is one kind of history of science that annoys me hugely, and that’s the knowledge relativist kind. A knowledge relativist historian of science will chronicle a scientific debate of the past but make no comment on who – if any –…

The Stone of Sälna is a runestone (U 323) erected about AD 1000 at Sälna hamlet where a major road crossed Hargsån stream in Skånela parish, Uppland. (This is not far from where Arlanda airport now sprawls.) None of this is unusual. But the stone’s great height, its inscription and its later fate are. Here’s…