Visingsö Oak Forest: a forest of immensely tall and unusually straight trees planted nearly 200 years ago to build naval ships that never existed

Oak has traditionally been used in shipbuilding since centuries, as its wood is incredibly strong, and if tended just right, the grain is straight and true. Going back even to the Vikings, the slow-growth trees have been used in Sweden for vessels of all kinds, including naval ships. On the lake island of Visingsö, a narrow island in the middle of Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake, there are hundreds of acres of tall and orderly oaks, all planted with an eye to the long term. As far back as the…

Read More

Anundshög – the Sweden’s largest burial mound, allegedly belonging to a mythical king

We are in Sweden, near Västerås in Västmanland. Scandinavia is full of burial mounds, runestones, and any sort of ancient graves. Similar to the Egyptian pyramids, great rulers were honored with these grand burial mounds as the correct ritual was important for the deceased to reach the afterlife. At 9 meters high and 60 meters in diameter, Anundshög (also know as Anundshögen and Anunds hög) has the largest burial mound in Sweden, which is often associated with Anund, a semi-legendary mid-7th-century Swedish king from the House of Yngling. His name…

Read More

8# The delicious history of the Yule Log Cake – or bûche de Noël

Paris at Christmastime is heaven for sweet tooth. Even if, patisseries on virtually every street corner is attractive at any time of year, there’s something magical about windows packed with elaborately decorated little logs. I discovered that few French people celebrate Christmas without one of these Yule log cake, known also as bûche de Noël, a Christmas cake with a ritualistic and interesting past. Cleverly shaped and decorated to look like a 3-D little log, the cake represents a melding of ancient midwinter traditions: one that celebrated the end of…

Read More

The Viking diet: surely better than that of many others medieval people

The Vikings are famous in the common imagination for their large banquets of meat and beer, but what did they actually consume beyond alcohol and meat? The peoples of the North had a varied diet, rich in wild and bred animals, fruit, cereals, poultry and fish and many other foods that they collected in the wild. Although one might think that it was a simple people, their diet was much richer and more diversified than the rest of Medieval Europe. That’s true, Scandinavia is cold, however many foods are available…

Read More