Architecture in Sweden, a Survey of Swedish Architecture throughout the Ages and up to the Present Day

By August Hahr; J. S. Herrstreom | Go to book overview

III.
MEDIEVAL CASTLES.

The medieval profane architecture, in comparison with the ecclesiastical, has left considerably fewer memorials. Wood was the commonest building material both in town and country. In the towns, dwelling houses of stone were, with the exception of Visby, tolerably rare. On the other hand castles, "fortified houses", were built on behalf of the king and the more powerful nobility, in the latter case less, it is true, than abroad, as the supremacy of the nobility here in Sweden was never so great. The church provided for its bishops or contributed at least to the upkeep of necessary strongholds in times of trouble. The majority of them have fallen into ruins. Many were destroyed during the violent feuds which raged between the Swedes and the Danes or during the civil strife of the Swedes themselves. As a matter of fact, in the days of the Nordic Union, the Danish king allowed no private person to be the owner of any stronghold, an ordinance which, in Sweden, however, was difficult to maintain and which, in 1483 was annulled. When later, these houses of defence lost their significance on account of the development of fire-arms, they were either allowed to fall into ruins, were demolished to their foundations, or rebuilt and used in other connections. Some few are still in preservation or bear, though partly transformed, noteworthy reminiscences of the original. I have already mentioned the Gotland "kastals" (towers of defence) from the dark ages, and the relics of similar towers to be met with on Sweden's eastern coast. In Hälsingborg there still remains an old Danish defensive tower, "Kärnan", a high brick tower once encircled by walls which have now disappeared. It has an inner construction of brick vaults built in several floors, with painted decoration, but it should serve, indeed, as residence for the King's Governor.

To the 13th and 14th centuries belonged great mural fortresses in Stockholm, Örebro, Västerås and Nyköping, all of which were converted later into castles. In the ruins of Nyköping Castle one finds a rather illustrative example with high gray-stone walls and strongly built towers. There is a keep ("barfred") in one of the inner corners of the rectangular court-yard. Indeed this was the historical tower in which King Birger, in 1318, left his brothers, the Dukes Erik and Waldemar to pine to death. At one of the short ends there are the ruins of a hall from the same period. Kalmar Castle, of importance in the defence of our country, also developed encircling walls with projecting towers. These were the origin of the great

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Architecture in Sweden, a Survey of Swedish Architecture throughout the Ages and up to the Present Day
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Preface. 3
  • I- Simpler Dwelling-Houses in Town and Country In Olden Times. 5
  • III- Medieval Castles. 20
  • IV- Wasa Castles. 22
  • IV- Wasa Castles. 30
  • VII- The So-Called Period of Liberty and the Reaction. 49
  • VIII- The Days of Gustav Iii. 53
  • VIII- The Days of Gustav Iii. 57
  • VIII- The Days of Gustav Iii. 64
  • VIII- The Days of Gustav Iii. 70
  • VIII- The Days of Gustav Iii. 80
  • VIII- The Days of Gustav Iii. 96
  • VIII- The Days of Gustav Iii. 112
  • List of Illustrations 127
  • Contents 129
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