Treasures of Cultural Landscapes – Focus on Scania

Cultural landscapes – a matter of history

During the younger Stone Age (4800-1800 BC) humans, then nomadic hunters-gatherers, adopted a more stable lifestyle by gradually introducing agriculture as a livelihood. Later, during the Bronze Age (1800-500 BC), settlements increased in number and the growing population needed more food. Thus farming and livestock rearing became more and more important.

Villages existed in Scania already during the older Iron Age (500 BC – 400 AC) but it was not until the younger (400 – 1050) Iron Age that the larger villages where formed and modern cultivation forms started. Names of villages ending with RÖD (meaning clearing of land) dates back to years 1050 – 1500. The stone fences throughout Scania are a produce of the clearing of the fields in ancient days.

Cultural landscapes in later times

Until the early 19th century farmlands in a village formed a mosaic of fields and meadows close to the village and pastures for domestic animals in the outfields. To protect the fields from grazing cattle special protective passages, lined with stone and wooden fences, where built to lead the animals from their sheds to the pastures and woodlands where they stayed for the whole summer season. The trees along the fields and pastures where used as logs and fence material.

The names of crofts and crofters as well as their daily activities are better know from medieval times onwards. Oats, barley and rye were cultivated but later also potato. A relatively big croft had had 6-7 seven horses, pigs, cows, sheep and chicken. Fish, vegetables, honey, fruit and nuts provided for additional nourishment. Also growing hop for the production of beer was important. In late 17th century a croft could have 500 hop poles.

Over the time a croft could see crofters come and go frequently and stories remain to tell about their daily lives and work. Diseases had a heavy toll among them. In the middle of the 19th century a crofter paid for the lease in cash money, labor and a specified amount croft produce e.g. butter, charcoal, tar, fish or logs to the landlord.

Often only ruins are left from farms dying out in the 19th and 20th centuries. A village could have its own distillery (see also article on Legendary Scanian Aqua Vitae) and a smithy to produce scythes and perhaps a water-powered sawmill to produce planks. The price for running a log through the saw was 0,14 crowns.

Sometimes a village, like Spångabro, became deserted if making a livelihood was more or less impossible. People lived in simple dwellings built by their own hands, worked hard for their living and often had to walk long distances to carry out their duties.  “Väva-Anna” did weave all her life, “Stava-Per” was the tailor and “Örn-Ola” the butcher. People also worked as laborers in the nearby farms. “Löne-Sven” once walked tired home and had to have a rest walking up the hill. The story says that he fell asleep on the slope but woke up early enough to make his way back to work next morning”. These stories and more have been written by Rickard Nilsson and published in Kristianstadsbladet 17th November 1960.

Cultural Reserves by Environmental code

As an analog to Nature Reserve a Culture Reserve can, based on Swedish Environmental Code since 1999, be formed by a decision of any County Administrative Board. Such decision would comprise all complete historical landscapes characterized as valuable and would typically hold agricultural or industrial sites including trails, buildings, facilities and monuments. This would also comprise traditions, knowledge and activities. A management plan will protect and take care of all natural and cultural values.

Presently there are 41 cultural reserves in Sweden covering the whole country and Örnanäs was the first to be officially listed, in 2006, as a Cultural Reserve in Scania. This village dates back to 1584 when Scania was part of Denmark. The original farm closed down in 1933 and the area is now preserved for the future generations to understand a life without computers, TV’s and telephones.

The sites are well kept and provide maps, marked paths as well as QR services. They are also often free of charge and visitors can come and go as they please to stroll around, enjoy a (picnic) coffee with friends and family.

The above information is collected from sites in northwestern part of Scania; Villages of Simonstorp dating back to 13th century, Örnanäs 16th century, Ballingstorp 16th century, Sporrakulla 17th century and Spångabro (unknown).

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