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Stjärnsund ironworks – Silent and peaceful, on the shore of Lake Grycken, stands “the white ironworks”, Stjärnsund, perhaps the best-preserved eighteenth-century ironworks in Dalarna. Stjärnsund was founded by “the father of Swedish engineering”, Christopher Polhem, and his partner, Gabriel Stierncrona. In 1700 they had been granted a charter to construct a factory, one of the first in Sweden, to manufacture “objects of general utility”, based on the conveyor-belt principle. The factory also produced two items called after Polhem, a cardan joint and a lock. The lock was a predecessor of today’s safety lock. The famous Stiernsund clocks, constructed according to Polhem’s 300-year-old mechanical principle, are still being manufactured in Stjärnsund.
Much of the ironworks was destroyed by a fire in 1737, but it was rebuilt on a north–south axis in keeping with French ideals. The large mansion (1779) has several eighteenth-century interiors that are worth seeing. The newly renovated forge, one of the few surviving industrial buildings in Stjärnsund, now has a popular function as a venue for theatrical and musical events. The Polhem Museum tells the story of the life and work of the great inventor in Stjärnsund.
“I, Stierncrona with capital, and I, Polhammar with intelligence and understanding, have decided to build a manufactory.” This, tradition has it, was the start of the agreement that laid the foundation for Stjärnsund ironworks.
The english park – Work on the park began in 1799. It was modelled on the picturesque English countryside, with a blurred boundary between cultivated park and natural landscape. The River Sörboån was dammed, canals and ponds were dug. Islands were joined by arched white bridges, and completely new parkscapes and water landscapes were designed. The park had secret garden passages, outdoor altars, a trinity well, a summerhouse, sculptures, and a skittle alley. Natural romanticism was in vogue. In summer the park is open to visitors. Leave everyday concerns behind and savour the silence. Carpe diem – Seize the day!
Husby-Smedby – Husby Parish is one of the oldest farming districts in Dalarna. In the early Middle Ages it became an administrative centre for southern Dalarna, governed from the two royal manors of Husby and Näs. The people of Husby knew how to produce iron at an early stage, and tradition has it that this is the oldest mining district in Sweden, going far back into pagan times. The name comes from husaby, a term for an estate which served as a centre for the royal administration, one of the personal properties of the king who ruled at Uppsala.
Husby was the northernmost of all the king’s manors. It was at the manor of Husby that the Laws of Dalarna were written in the thirteenth century, and the charter for the Falun mine was written here in 1347. Smedby, one of the oldest places in Dalarna, was for a long time the centre of Husby Parish, with a church, courthouse, inn, parish hall, and bank. Husby Church was given its present form in 1779 – 82, when the earlier medieval church was extended. In the church there are several objects from the fifteenth century and a particularly beautiful collection of old church textiles.
Långshyttan ironworks – The natural waterfall in the River Långshytteströmmen and the plentiful flow provided good conditions for iron production as early as the fifteenth century. The ore was brought from mines in Bispberg and Garpenberg. In the mid-eighteenth century the mine-owners built a timbered smelting house. In 1861 it was replaced by a splendid new smelting house, the biggest in Sweden in terms of size and capacity. Both smelting houses still stand today. Of the ironworks that Husby Parish once boasted, only Långshyttan survives today. Production now consists of stainless steel and high-speed steel. Lakes Fullen and Grycken, eternally linked by a pouring waterfall, occupy a central place in Silvhytteå. Reflected on the surface of the water are the ruins of the timbered smelting house built by Stjärnsund ironworks in 1787. Here and there you can see stout pillars built of slag, which once supported a large coalhouse. In the background is a roasting kiln, built of greenshimmering slag brick. The whole site exudes peace and tranquillity. It is difficult to imagine that this was once a small ironworks with over a hundred employees.
Silvhytteå ironworks – At the end of the seventeenth century a silver smelting house was built beside the waterfall, which gave the place its name, Silvhytteå. In the eighteenth century Silvhytteå was a complete ironworks with a smelting house, roasting kiln, ore yard, office, forge, and stables. At the end of 1872 a sluice gate was built to facilitate transport between the lakes. It still works today. The ironworks was closed at the end of the nineteenth century. Most of the buildings have been demolished. Silvhytteå is now a popular destination for outings, appreciated for its industrial history and its beautiful, peaceful location.
Kloster ironworks – The fast-flowing waters of the River Klosterån led to the foundation of smelting houses for iron and copper as far back as the fifteenth century. The place was called Riddarhyttan, but it was given the name Kloster (“Monastery”) after a Cistercian abbey that was completed in 1486. The foundations of the abbey church can still be seen today. In the mid-sixteenth century the abbey was closed and the smelting houses and hammers were taken over by mine-owners. Besides iron, they also produced gunpowder, and from the mideighteenth century this was the site of Sweden’s biggest gunpowder mill. At the start of the nineteenth century, operations were expanded to include a plate rolling mill. This was Sweden’s most modern rolling mill, and Kloster gradually became a successful ironworks. Poor communications and recessions led to the closure of the works in the late nineteenth century. The Kloster Ironworks Museum, housed in the old stables, tells more about the history of the ironworks. One chilly winter’s day in 1841, Carl Westerholm, a spry, observant farmhand, was looking for ore in an old “mine croft” belonging to the village of Hienshyttan. With the aid of a borrowed mine compass a stretch of ore 700 m long was ringed in. The discovery was crucial for the continued development of Långshyttan as an ironworks, securing the supply of iron ore.
Rällingsberg mine – Rällingsberg consists of four mines which are beautifully located and surprisingly open, in the middle of a sloping arable landscape. When the mine was at its biggest, roughly a hundred men and women worked here. All that remains today is the dynamite store, mine house, engine house, ore separating house, and a transformer station. The area also preserves the ruins of the ore dressing plant and an extensive transport system with canals, railway, and ropeway. The mine was closed in 1932.