My faithful readers know we have our vacation home in Mariestad, Sweden. Staying there for the whole July gives a great opportunity to explore and experience all kinds of culture and historical places in the local area. Blogging often inspires me to do extra research, and in this post I will share an educational visit to a very old Mill Stone mine. You might like to know or see what a thousand year old mill stone looks like, so I start with a collection of pictures from a Mill Stone Park nearby the mill:
While there a few weeks ago, we had an excellent guided tour all by ourselves. Our guide was bombarded with questions of course, since you know I am a curious and talkative person. So let me give you some of the historical background:
Millstones have been a feature here for 800 years and according to spoken tradition they were first made by Cistercians monks who came here in 1147. The production continued until 1919 and today you can visit one of the last mines to be used, several opencast plus the museum. We are talking about one of the few millstone mills in the world as the stones have been made here for 800 years and man’s industry has left traces all around the hills. Dense deciduous forest hides much of the mile-long heaps of discarded stone, but all around you can see the heritage left behind by old inhabitants of Lugnås in the form of around 600 opencast and 55 mines one of which is open to the public. Here you see a couple of pics from one of the mines:
According to spoken tradition mining was begun by monks in the 12th century and it grew into an industry which in the 1850’s became larger than all the other industries in Mariestad put together. The Lugnås dominance over the market can be explained by the good supply of suitable gneiss rich in feldspar and kaolin. The quarrying was done using simple tools and methods in opencasts or in mines. The work was very hard and many quarrymen died young.
By the guide we where also told that they worked here from May to October as it was too cold and to much snow to work in the winter time. There where around 500 working there at the most and the woman and children started first at 6 in the morning to clean the mines and empty it for water and the workday ends at 8 in the evening. The temperature in the mines was not more than 14C (57F) so you can say it was a very hard working conditions. The stones was highly valued and findings of these stones are reported as far away as South Africa, which is pretty impressive for such an old industry. So its no exaggeration to say that Swedish stone ground the worlds grain!
I’ve had a correspondence with Ingemar from the Mill Stone Mine. He thanked me for the post and came with a couple of correction:
1: The normal temperature in the mine was 7C (45F)!
2: The most frequent customers where Scandinavian and Germany. Some clever shippers used the stones to balance the boat deepest in the ship with the advantage that they could sell them and wight the ship with other goods on the return trip. Roamers says they took them as far as Turkey and North Africa (so not south as I reported earlier).