12 May 2011

Trip to Sörmland

We had decided to spend Easter this year making a small trip of Södermanland, or Sörmland as it is popularly known. And where is Sörmland? The short answer is that Sörmland is immediately south of Stockholm. The long answer needs to point out that Sweden can be divided in two different ways: in the 25 traditional provinces (landskap in Swedish) that today only have historical and cultural significance, and in the 21 counties (län in Swedish) that make up the administrative division of Sweden. The old province Sörmland (Sudermania in Latin) consists of Sörmland county and the parts of Stockholm county that are south of lake Mälaren.

One of our primary destination was Stendörren ('The stone door') natural preserve where a couple of islets and skerries are connected by wooden bridges so that one can visit the archipelago by foot. Fortunately the Easter weather was perfect for such outdoor activities.

Our trip continued to the nearest town, Nyköping ('New market town'), which is the capital of Sörmland county and turned out to be one of the nicer Swedish countryside towns we've visited. By the local stream, Nyköpingsån, we found this monument for one of the city's proud sons.

We decided to try something new and booked one night at Yxtaholm castle just outside of Flen. Although certainly picturesque there on the Yxtaholm islet between lakes Yxtasjön and Långsjön, it was more what we'd call a manor house than a castle.

In Mariefred by the shore of lake Mälarens we found Gripsholm castle which fits our expectations for a castle much better.

We also noticed a few pieces of cultural heritage reminding us that the area was populated already in the 11th century (translation and a few notes grabbed from the plaques posted next to the stones).

They fared like men - far after gold
and in the east - gave the eagle food[1]
They died in the south - in Serkland[2]

[1] giving the eagle food is a poetic term for killing enemies.
[2] Serkland, land of the Saracens land, presumably refers to an area by the Caspian Sea.

Tola had this stone raised to commemorate her son Harald, brother of Ingvar. Ingvar is mentioned in the Icelandic sagas as Ingvar the travelled. Ingvar's fateful expedition through Russia to the Caspian Sea is said to mentioned on almost 30 runestones in the valley around lake Mälaren.

Hälgulv (?) and Öulv they had this stone raised
in memory of their brother Kätilmund and
(built) a bridge in memory of Soma, their mother.
But Brune (?), her brother, carved (the runes)

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