Thursday, 31 October 2019


I've just been scrolling through a number of "Halloweens Past" on my blog (with a nod to Dickens and his Christmas Carol)... 

Those of you who have been following me here for a while probably remember by now that in Sweden, the 'Halloween' traditions are not so much focused on pumpkins and scary costumes and collecting candy, but more on the All Saints' Day /weekend being a time for visiting the family graves, with winter decorations and candles. 

Comparing my blog photos from around Halloween over some years, one of my conclusions is that autumn seems to be further along this year than it's been in a while. The blast of autumn colours is over: Most of the leaves have already dropped to the ground, leaving bare branches silhouetted against the sky. And the last couple of mornings, the ground has been covered with frost.

Today was another cold morning, but also very still; and towards noon, the clouds lifted and the sun broke through. I decided it was a good day for a walk to the large cemetery where my maternal grandparents' grave is (and one or two others from mum's side of the family). It's on the outskirts of town, but "on a good day" within walking distance from where I live. (As it happens, I might be going again on Saturday, if my aunt and uncle come by. But one of the things in life one cannot plan is the weather...)

This cemetery covers a huge area with varied kinds of landscape. The kinds of headstones used also vary from one section to another. My grandparents' grave is on top of a little hill, and their stone lies flat on the ground. (This sometimes makes it tricky to find, as it tends to get covered with leaves and needles falling down on it from the trees above... The branches half-covering it just now are the winter decorations, though!)

Other sections of the cemetery have standing stones like these.

The reflections on the lake show both how still it was on this day; but also that most of the deciduous trees have already dropped all their leaves. 


If you'd like to compare photos from a more colourful Halloween visit to the same cemetery, try 2015. ;)

Weekend Reflections

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Inspired Sunday: Hammarlöv Church (Skåne, Sweden)

This church dates back to the later part of the 12th century and was originally built in Romanesque style. (Traces of an even older wooden church have also been found.) The round church tower is unusual for Sweden.  

The altarpiece was carved in 1700, but the image in the middle is later, from 1869.

The side ailes to the south and to the north were added in the 19th century. The pulpit, originally from the 17th century, had to be moved to be better seen by the congregation.

The baptismal funt is the oldest object in the church, made by the same stone mason who built the original church.


The organ was first built in 1851, and rebuilt in 1926.

Hammarlöv church is situated not far from Maglarp church, which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Some similarities can be seen in the interior design if you compare them.

Inspired Sunday #339

InSPIREd Sunday

Monday, 21 October 2019

History & Future

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?”
(Winnie the Pooh)

I've been feeling a bit like that lately... Lots of thoughts buzzing in my head, but only resulting in writer's block.

One thing causing media discussions in Sweden lately (besides  Brexit and other various international news) is some proposed changes in our common grade school curriculum, from the National Agency for Education. One such suggested change was to completely drop the whole period of history from Antiquity (Greece and Rome and all that) and all the way up to the 18th century. However, that suggestion has already been officially withdrawn; as it caused immediate massive media attention and protests - not only from historians and teachers, but from "ordinary people" as well. 

Myself, I didn't believe my ears when I first heard it. (Had it been around April 1st, I would have taken it for an April Fool's joke.) Yes, I'm sure the way things are taught probably does need adjusting now and then. Of course a lot of things can easily be looked up when needed these days, rather than putting effort into memorizing them (and then forgetting them anyway). But in my experience, you do still need at least some basic idea of context in order to even know what to look up, and also to connect one fact to another...

I understand that similar (i.e. downright stupid) suggestions have also been made for other subjects, like geography and religion. I'm not sure where it will all end up, yet - so I'll keep to history for now (or else I will just get lost in my thoughts again). 

Ironically, with these discussions still going on (in television, radio, papers, internet), Swedish television has been broadcasting some really interesting (British) documentaries about Antiquity and archaeology lately: Greek and Roman mythology, literature and architecture, and also Egyptian pyramids and other burial sites. I've enjoyed watching these. I've always been fascinated by this kind of stuff (even back in my school days) - without in any way being an expert or storing all the details in my memory.

Some of you reading this I'm sure will also be familiar with the British TV show Time Team - also a favourite of mine. Can you imagine Britain - Brexit or no Brexit! - erasing the whole Roman era from the history books? (And, for that matter, king Arthur and Shakespeare as well, if history was not to start until 1700...)
As it happens, I'm also currently listening to an Audible series of lectures about Ancient Civilizations of North America. (Not for any particular reason other than that I suppose I happened to find it at a reasonable price and thought it looked interesting.)

Now this is getting woven into my thoughts on history in general as well - because these lectures are making me realize, that when it comes to North America, my concept of its history really does not go back any further than the European colonization. Of course I've known from childhood that there were "Indians" living there before the Europeans arrived. But it strikes me now that the only ancient American "civilizations" I recall reading or hearing much about have been those in South/Central America (like the Inkas and Mayas). Yes, I also knew (since not-sure-when in my childhood) there were also various "Indian tribes" in North America, and I came across a few of those names through books and films. But my images of "Red Indians" are mostly from old 60s/70s movies and TV-series. 

Of course I know that the historical perspective has changed over the decades since then, and one speaks of Native Americans now. But this series of lectures is still a real revelation to me. (I'm still only like half-way through.) I have to admit I had absolutely no concept of how many ancient civilizations there were in North America, even long before the European colonization. Not just nomads, but ancient cities with hundreds and even thousands of inhabitants; fishing and trading, digging canals and irrigation systems, growing corn, building burial mounds and ritual centers that can be compared to the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge (with perfect geometry and aligned to the sun and the moon etc), and... and... and all without me knowing, until now (when I'm 64)... ;)

So, out of curiosity, I have to ask my American friends: Did you know?? About pre-Columbian North American archaeological periods and cultures, going back many thousands of years??
Of course, if you live elsewhere in the world, your comments are welcome as well. Do you think history is important, or should we just forget about it and move on??

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Skywatch Friday: More Autumn Colours

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus 

SkyWatch Friday

Monday, 14 October 2019

The Colours of Autumn

We've had a lot of rain lately - but also awesome autumn colours.
Here are some photos from my walks around town in October.

Through My Lens

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Inspired Sunday: Maglarp Medieval Church (Skåne, Sweden)

This church at Maglarp (F on the map) in Skåne, Sweden, dates back to around 1190. It was used as a parish church up to the year 1909, when a new church was completed. Between 1909 and 1971 the medieval church was abandoned. Only occasional services were sometimes held there in the summer. But in 1971 the church was restored both as a cultural heritage and to again serve as a parish church. So while on the one hand, electricity etc was installed; they also restored the original medieval characteristics - like old painted details on the vaults (which had in between been whitewashed and hidden).

The original architecture of the church was "Romanesque church with a broad west tower ". Over the years it has been rebuilt and extended.

The baptismal font, made of sandstone, is the oldest piece in the church; from the same time as the oldest parts of the church itself. 

The crucifix in the triumphal arch is from around 1450.

The altar is medieval and has a small built-in space for a relic (today empty). The altarpiece from 1759 was cut by a man who was an innkeeper but in his spare time also worked as a sculptor. 

The pulpit dates from 1568 and is one of the oldest in Sweden. The door to the pulpit was painted in 1639, so probably not added until then. (We found that door rather intriguing: Why a door when the stairs can be seen by those sitting in the pews  anyway?) 

The organ is from 1842 and was built by a well-known master from the city of Lund (whose name was also Lundh). He built around 25 organs; but this is the only one left (restored, and still used). The portraits on the facade of the balcony, by an unnamed artist, represent Christ and his disciples (plus one of Moses, added later).

There is a votive ship in this church as well (I showed another one of those in my post from Skanör church a couple of weeks ago). The brochures from the church do not mention how old the ship is.

(The facts in this post have been picked from brochures I got in the church; but the photos are my own.)

Inspired Sunday #337

InSPIREd Sunday
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