See & do in Tiveden

In Tiveden, adventure awaits those searching for enchantingly beautiful nature characterised by mighty boulders, deep mossy valleys and steep and rocky mountain ridges. Hike, cycle or ride wherever you want, roam between the many lakes, visitor attractions and favourite little haunts. You never run out of new things to discover.
To learn more, please visit www.tiveden.se.

The history of Tiveden

Human beings in all cultures have pondered over the existential questions; from where do I come, where am I going, what do I do here, what is my role? Our history gives some hints of from where we come and who we are.

Already 10 000 years ago when the ice pulled back after the ice age Tiveden very soon became inhabited. Later during the iron age, people learned that the soils were special and did offer opportunities to extract iron to produce tools.  Tiveden became kind of a small industrial centre and it was well-populated. This changed dramatically at the time of the great plague in the 1350’s when most people died and the area became wilderness.

The time of wilderness lasted until 16th century when the son of King Gustav Vasa, Prince Karl, organised a huge migration of people from eastern Finland to uninhabited forest areas of Sweden. Tiveden is the southernmost of these forests. The purpose was to get some control over these large areas. It is estimated that as many as 40 000 people moved at a time when Sweden and Finland together only had a total population of 1 million.

Swidden Finns and Swidden cultivation

The people who moved in from eastern Finland practiced swidden cultivation and they were called Swidden Finns. They cut down and burnt a small part of the forest and in the ashes they sowed a special kind of grain called swidden rye. This swidden rye gave very good crops. Often more than hundred times more than was sowed and sometimes even as much as thousand times. Most likely they lived a good life and the landscape became varied with small openings and dense forests. This lasted only until 1650 when the Queen Kristina forbade swidden cultivation. The monarchy entered a series of wars with Denmark and Russia and they needed the forest to produce charcoal to produce weapons.

However, swidden cultivation was still in practice, most likely up till the mid-18hundreds. Of course covert and most secretly. The Swedish Agency for Nature Conservation has examined forest fires in the nationalpark of Tiveden and they found that most of the park was burned until 1860-ties when it suddenly ended. Most likely these fires had got some help to get started by a poor farmer who sowed some swidden rye in a distant valley.

Competition over forests was hard and became harder over the centuries, either for food production for small scale farmers or for forest corporations and the state for charcoal and later timber production. Farmers were losing out and at the turn of the 19th century many left and migrated to America.

Animism and sacred sites

Animism existed for long parallel with, or combined with Christianity. An animist regards everything being alive and having consciousness.  A consciousness that people could communicate with and also had to relate to. All animals and plants, but also the air, the water and also the earth were conscious. Parts of this animism still existed up till early 1900 and this is most likely the reason we today give Tiveden the prefix ‘Troll-Tiveden’.

Sacred sites were places with special energies and where people could get in contact with their forefathers and other dimensions. Some contemporary indigenous people compare sacred sites on earth with the points on a human body used for acupuncture. There still exist sites that were regarded sacred during the pre-Christian time. Stenkälla and Trollkyrkoberget in the National Park of Tiveden both have old stories or myths, as also the sacred well at Skaga chapel east of lake Unden and Stavahall on the eastern shore of Unden. With the immigration of Swidden Finns most likely new sacred sites and places with special forces came into use. For example there was an old huge pine tree that could help people get rid of diseases.

The name Tiveden means the wood of the old Nordic god Tyr. Tyr was contemporary with Oden and Tor and he was the spiritual warrior and also berserk.