On yesterdays paths

The following text is written by John Käll
1. "Jätta-kast" and "Blom's room"
This erratic-shaped boulder from the Great Ice Age has been a subject of many folk tales. The stone is called "Bloms kammare" (Blom's room); a wandering tradesman by the name of Blom is said to have slept under an edge which protrudes from the back side of the stone.

According to another tale, told by "Petter on Liarna" there once was a pregnant woman who saved herself from being attacked by a wolf by climbing onto the boulder. Standing there, beating at the wolf with a large stick, she was able to keep the wolf away from her until her shrill screams finally alerted a nearby farmer.

2. Ruin of Shagga-Katrin's hut  
This is the remains of a so-called hill cabin where three sides are built into a small hill. Only the roof and parts of the one side were built of wood. This one side often faced towards the south and it had an entrance door and a small window to let in a little light into the one room of the cabin. An open grey-stone fireplace offered warmth and cooking facilities.

This cabin is taken as an typical example by Gunnar-Olof Hyltén-Cavallius in his book "Värend och Virdarna" which was published in 1854! It is said that the last person to have lived here was a widow called "Shagga-Katrina", and after her death in the 1890's the cabin went to ruin. A small amount of cultivated land was able to produce food for a skinny goat and perhaps a few chicken - maybe even a cat.

3. Ruins of a small water mill  
A simple little mill with only a few stones. The millstone rotating on top was driven by a vertical axle in its lower section in which the water wheel was mounted. The flour produced was very coarse as the grain could not be hulled.

Mills such as this one - skvaltkvarnar - were often found by small streams and, therefore, could normally only be used during the spring and autumn, when there was an ample supply of water. In contrast to other wheel mills, there were no taxes levied against skvaltkvarn mills.

4. Holy well  
According to tales told there is always water in this well, even during the extremely dry periods. Therefore, it considered to have supernatural powers. It was said that if one sacrificed a coin in it, one's wish would have a good chance of coming true. Shortly after the turn of the century hundreds of coins were collected from the well and sold to a coin collector, Petter Dahl.

In past days the well was surrounded by lovely meadows and fields. Notice the lovely, very well built boundary stones 30 meters to the right of the holy well. These were laid up here by the brothers Ernst and Nils-Petter Svensson.

5. Stone wall (as it was built)
The province of Småland is known for its never-ending stone walls forming boundaries around fields, and along small country roads. The walls are not only a characteristic feature of the landscape, but they are also monumental proof of the hard work of our ancestors. The following is a quotation of Gunnel Holmér of Smålands Museum in Kronobergsboken from 1979.

"There are many different types of stone walls, but in our area the most common is the so-called double wall as shown here. It is comprised of two rows, built with large stones, with smaller stones filling the holes in between. But – first a ditch was dug to nearly frost-free depth and this was filled with stones. The wall was later built on top of this. The stones were placed slanting slightly inwards towards each other for firmness. Of course, it was very strenuous work and a fine stone wall took a long time to build, but in return one cleaned the fields from many stones and one had "fences" that never had to be rebuilt. Many walls are still in good shape, and they are beautifully crafted walls, a testimony of an impressive occupational skill."

6. Charcoal burning ground and the remains of a charcoal burner's hut  
Carbon soil is the remains of a stack where charcoal once was made. The stack was formed by tree trunks leaning on each other in the middle, and then lumber, preferably deciduous wood, was placed around and around until the stack became large enough, approximately 200 cubic meters.

Then the stack was covered with dirt and branches. It was ignited through several holes at the bottom, and thus the fire could be kept under control so that a raging fire would not occur. The charcoal produced was used as fuel in the production of steel from lake and bog ore.

Here in the southern parts of Pjätteryd Parish one can find hundreds of sites with carbon soil and remains from charcoal stacks. The coal burner often had a little hut directly next to the stack in which he could take shelter from the weather and prepare his food.

The hut was built of round timbers and completely covered with pine branches and dirt. It had a simple, open fireplace and one or two bunks covered with pine branches. The floor, which was no more than three square meters between the bunks, was of hard-packed earth. It was absolutely necessary to have such a hut as the coal burner had to keep watch over his stack 24 hours a day during the three weeks it normally took to burn out a large stack.

7. Tar grove  
A tar valley, or tar burning, is a furrow dug out in a hillside which is cleaned from stones and made very even and hard-packed. At the bottom, the furrow is completed with a stone embankment and covered with dirt. A hole is made in the bottom of the furrow, through which the tar will run down into collecting barrels.

When preparing the tar-burning, the entire furrow is filled with small bits of resin-rich pine-wood. It is covered completely with a thick layer of spruce branches and dirt to prevent air from getting into the wrong places.

The fire is lit through an opening in the top, and a bellow is connected to generate heat in order to melt the resin in the pine wood. As the resin melts the tar is formed, and the wood turns into charcoal, the bellow is moved on down the furrow. The tar flows downwards in the valley, down through the hole at the bottom where it can be collected in the special barrels.

In past times, tar was an essential Swedish export product.

8. Tar pine

no English translation available yet
9. Gravel pit  
When the roads needed repair, road covering materials were taken from this hill close to the road. This was called, in local dialect, to "broa" – to work on the road. The cavity which was left when the dirt and gravel was removed from the hill was called a "mohåla".

In the past the larger roads were divided up into "brosträckor" which means that each farm had the maintenance responsibility for a certain section of the road; the length depended on the size of the farm. A flat stone called a "brosten" was raised at the edge of the road stating the name of the farm responsible for each section.

In the middle of the 1920's the roads fell under government responsibility, and the local maintenance responsibility was abolished. The "brosten" stones still remaining are considered historical monuments and may not be moved or damaged. The road which passing by is indicated as a public road on the first proper map of the local area (Sunnerbo Härad), published in 1685, and had definitely been there even before that time.

10. Bisterhyltan, a deserted farm with an unusual well and remains of a mattock an gun smithy
This is a 6+ acre homestead belonging to the outlying land of the village of Boastad. The farm land was first cultivated at the end of the 18th century, and then farmed by the same family until the end of the 1940's when the farming terminated, and the house was demolished. (See the special sign!).

The prefix "Bister" to the farm name, no doubt comes from the word, bast, indicating the presence of linden trees from whose inner bark one derived bast to make string and rope.

"Hyltan" is a derivation of the word "hult" which means a deciduous forest, in this case a forest where many linden trees grew. A linden tree is still growing by the barn foundation. In the middle of the 1960's the fields were reforested by planting pine trees.

The only remains of the dwelling are the unusual well, built with flat stones, a pile of gravel, clay and stones from the house's chimney, and on the left a sizeable foundation of hand-cut stones. The "sizeable foundation" has been the footing of the will-known "Besterhåltasmean", a small smithy where not so long ago the blacksmith forged both "swords and ploughs" that is to say, the famous flint-lock guns and the after-sought "Besterhåltahackånå", a potato hoe known for its specially good form and quality.

11. Cattle path

no English translation available yet

12. Remains of a pitch boiling oven  
Pitch cooking was a common occupation in Pjätteryd, Residents of Pjätteryd were often called "tar angels" by their neighbours.

To cook pitch, a fireplace was built up of stones on which a large iron kettle was placed. This was filled with tar, often newly burned from a nearby tar distillery. A fire was lit under the kettle and the tar cooked slowly until all volatile substances disappeared. It was important that the tar be kept simmering and not be allowed to cook over and catch fire.

The procedure took several hours and the tar had to be stirred constantly with a sturdy wooden pole. When the tar finally turned into pitch, it became very thick and while warm it could be poured into a cone-shaped receptacle called a "beckskruv" made of fresh pine bark in which it was later sold.

13. Plague cemetery  
On this site, victims of epidemics such as cholera or the plague were buried; due to the contamination risk, they were not allowed to be buried in the regular cemetery. The deceased had to be buried very quickly and, therefore, the normal burial ceremony with an officiating clergyman was not allowed.

Many of the deceased had to be placed in a common grave, no doubt without a casket. According to hearsay this burial site was last used in the beginning of the 17th century. Residents of the area have always shown great respect for this place (the church meadow) and despite earlier cultivation in the area, it was always left untouched.

Howling ghosts have also been said to have appeared on the little hill to those who came near the place during the night!

14. Remains of a dam and water driven roofing-shingle machine  
According to "the old folks" a water-driven machine once produced wooden shingles used for roofing material here. During the 19th century, and up to 1930, the majority of roofs in the area were constructed of such wooden shingles. They were 4 mm thick, approximately 45 cm long and 10-15 cm wide. They were placed overlapping in rows running the length of the roof with a space of 15 cm between the rows.

To lay out the wooden shingles, one started at the lower edge of the roof using so-called roofing nails (2" wire nails), one nail in the upper edge of each single, so that the nails would be covered by the next row of shingles. A good wooden shingle roof lasted for approximately 15 years.

15. Brännefalls meadow (marshy hayfield)  
Brännefalls Äng, which is the name of this open peat bog, was once a partially overgrown pond. A few remains can be seen of what was once a dam and saw mill where wooden shingles were made.

During the 19th century, and up to the 1930's, hay was harvested from the fields near the lake and the bog. During the normally dry month of August, the sedge grass was cut with a schythe, raked together and spread out to dry - if the weather was suitable. As the meadowlands were too wet and soft for horses and oxen, the dry hay had to be manually carried in a contraption called a "höbåga" which was two bows tied together and the hay could be placed in between. With this piece of equipment, the farmers could carry the hay to the barns at the edge of the meadows.

When the meadows were frozen over and covered with snow during the winter, the hay could be brought home on sleds pulled by oxen. The harvest belonged to the villages of Sjöastabygd and Boastad and still does today, although there is no longer any actual harvest.

16 Potato pit  
Pits in the ground as pictured here were used in the 18th and 19th centuries as a winter storage place for the potatoes grown on the so-called Svedjeland – burned woodland - an area in the woods which had been cleared of all trees and then burnt off.

On the first year, rye was sown here, followed by potatoes in the second year. If it was difficult to come to the burnt-off woodland, the people would wait until winter to bring home their potatoes. With frozen land and snow on the ground it was easier for the oxen to pull the sled through the forest.

This potato pit has been placed by the edge of carbon soil and, potatoes were grown on the open area after burning. Cinders (remains after burning) may also have been used as an insulating cover over the pit.

17. Ruins of "Knektatorp" (a soldier's croft)  
In the beginning of the 1870's Hökhults Rote (file, no 130) decided that a soldier's holding was to be built here.

The file had just hired a new soldier, Kristoffer Johansson Elmqvist. The young man was assigned duty on April 19, 1873, but could for some unknown reason not convince his wife to move here, despite the new house and a fertile, uncultivated farmland.

Since the soldier's wife refused to reside here, the construction work was halted. As this was at the end of the time of sub-dividing, construction never resumed. Still today we can see the remains of the foundation for the barn that was never built. At that time there was no spruce forest as there is today; the landscape was more open, with deciduous forest all around.

18. Fossil burn-beaten woodland  
Burned woodland is an age-old method of cultivation. Up to the end of the 19th century, this was a common manner of preparing the land for future cultivation. An area in the woods considered good for planting was stripped of trees and vegetation. Useful timber was taken care of while branches and brushwood was thrown into a pile in the center so that a clean circle was formed around the pile. Then it was set on fire, preferably during damp weather so as not to risk a forest fire. The land became fertilized by the ashes and a fairly good rye harvest or potato crop could be obtained from the land in the spring of the next year.

After 3-5 years the burned woodland was abandoned to grow back into forest land as the soil was now impoverished of all nutritive substances. Crops were too poor. It could also be fertilized and used as permanent arrable land.  Up on the heights you can see small mounds of stones as a testimony of burned woodland, most likely in the beginning of the 19th century. You can also see remains of a tar valley and a pitch-cooking oven on this site.

19. Deserted crofter's holding  "Jordbäralyckan"
This farm, with the unusual name "Jordbäralyckan", was last occupied by a man called Petter Jönsson and his family. He was generally called "Brotta-Pettern", but it is not know why! However, it is said that he had an extremely violent and furious temper into his very last days.

His wife did not dare go near his bedside when he was dying, but gave him his food on a bread platter called a "brödgresla". This is a long pole with a round wooden platter at the end with which one put in and took out loaves of bread from the bake oven.

"Jordbär" is the same as "Smultron" – wild strawberrries. Since "jordbär" formed part of the name of the farm, it can be assumed that many of these delicious berrries grew nearby. "Lycka" as it was enclosed with a stone wall or other fencing and thereby was inaccessible (locked) for grazing cattle. The house was demolished at he beginning of the century but the surrounding fields were farmed even into the 1950's.