Fornvännen's Summer Issue On-Line

Fornvännen 2015:2 is now on-line on Open Access. A reminder: the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters who publish the journal decided on a six-month delay in order to protect the viability of the journal's paper version.

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Fornvännen 2016:1 is now on-line on Open Access. Anton Seiler on a weapon grave with fragments of a Vendel helmet found at Inhåleskullen near Uppsala. Some of the metalwork is interestingly decorated in Salin's Style III/E and must be late additions to the assemblage. Rune Edberg and Johnny…
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Did the 17th and 18th century Swedes have the custom that everyone spent the winter huddled around the tile stove in the parlour/Stube like the Tirolers did? Or could they afford better insulation and more food and fuel?

The Swedish tiled stove with an immensely long, coiled smoke canal was invented to save fuel. I am not aware of any widespread huddling. Winter was good for travelling in Sweden, before roads and bog drainage improved land travel.

Winter was good for travelling in Sweden, before roads and bog drainage improved land travel.

This was also true of northern New England, and turns out to be part of the reason why the New Hampshire primary came to be the first primary in the presidential election sequence. Northern New England municipalities would have their town meetings in mid-March, when farmers could travel to town and were not burdened with responsibilities on the farm. The other part of it was Yankee frugality: as long as the voters were coming into town for the town meeting, holding a presidential preference primary the same day seemed like a good idea. (To this day, most New Hampshire municipalities have a single polling place, because the state constitution requires electoral district boundaries to coincide with township or ward boundaries.) Then other states noticed that they could get more attention by having their primaries earlier in the process, and the New Hampshire legislature passed a law requiring the presidential primary to be at least a week before any similar contest in other states (Iowa uses caucuses instead of a primary, so the law does not prohibit them going eight days earlier). This year the New Hampshire primary is 9 February--not as ridiculous as the last cycle, when we voted in early January--for a contest with a general election in November.

The reason town meetings couldn't be much later than mid-March is because of "mud season", a period during the spring thaw when travel on unpaved roads becomes virtually impossible (and poorly engineered paved roads--including almost all non-motorways in the region--suffer from frost heaves). I expect that a similar thing happens in inland and northern Sweden, although the timing may differ. It's certainly a problem in permafrost regions, where mud season ends with the ground re-freezing.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 12 Jan 2016 #permalink

I'd like to learn more about Early Modern New England. After all, it's my 2nd homeland after those two childhood years in Connecticut.

"a period during the spring thaw when travel on unpaved roads becomes virtually impossible2

A lo, see the Russian "rasputitsa".
The fall rains and the spring thaw made roads impassable. The onset of such conditions in october 1941 saved Moscow from the consequences of Stalin's criminal mismanagement of the defence.

By Birgerjohansson (not verified) on 13 Jan 2016 #permalink