Today I spend some time doing research for a short story I started to write. It will take place in the history of the area I live in, Sannäsfjorden in Sweden. I have touched on this in some of my previous blogs so please check them out. The history of this area is quite rich so there is much inspiration to get.
Before you stop reading. I will not shoot kings and years at you. In school this was the worst part of the history lessons. All the kings, wars and the the years you needed to remember, deep sigh! No it is far more interesting to understand how normal people lived. When I walk around in the area there are many traces. Remains of houses, bridges or stone fences. I think about the men and women living here. Was life hard all the time or were they happy?
After the last ice age ended some 10 000 years ago the land rose slowly from the sea when the pressure from the ice was gone. As the land rose people came by boat and started to live here as the fishing was very good. The many rock carvings at Tanumshede tells us that people lived here for a long time.
What strikes me is that during the centuries there has been many changes. Periods of prosperity and periods of poverty. For the common people life has usually been hard. Since the Viking era there has been periods where the fishing has been very easy. These periods are called the herring periods. The herring came in enormous amount for twenty or thirty years just to vanish for eighty or hundred years. During the good years many moved here and the small communities grew rapidly.
As the herring period ended people was forced to find other ways to support their families. They moved inland and open up new farmland or tried to catch other kinds of fish. The herring was trapped close to the shore in large trawling like nets called “Vad” (I cannot find an English translation). The fishermen did this in small rowboats. From these entrapment’s the fish was scooped up in boats or sometimes directly to the shore. The fish was salted or boiled down to fish oil, train oil (also called whale oil even if not from whales).
During the last herring period at the end of 1800 there was a demand for the special red Granite stone in the area. The entire Bohuslän is covered with remains of the stone industry and the masonry. Many cities in the world has this stone in buildings and streets. The rock of poorer quality was also used for building roads and canals. The little village Sannäs was at its peak around 1900 with a population of 350 souls as the church book says.
Today there are only 57 full year inhabitants but a few weeks in the summer it reaches almost 300. Many of the houses built during the expansion during 1800 still remains but are now summer houses. Of the many stone industries only one remains.
It is the circle of life. Nature seeks out the best condition to grow. Moves on when conditions change. As in the past people struggle to find a way to earn a living here but with modern communication it has become easier. Many commute to larger cities both in Sweden and in Norway. As the IT infrastructure are improved it is possible to work remotely. During this pandemic many summerhouses have been lit up.
I really struggled with this article as many of the words are local and not easily translated. As sources have used the book from a local historical group and their book “Sannäs – Ett Bohuslänskt Kustsamhälle” and my father-, and mother-in-law and Wikipedia.
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