Entrance ticket 155  level. Ref. 1 Foundries and mines in Bergslagen. Sala silvermine.
With MC to Sala silvermine. Historical overview.
Text and pictures Björn Bellander. 29 pics current 2009, 2014, 2016

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Historical overview, Visit 155 m level, Water system in the mine, How making silver, geologyLinks

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Angelsbergs foundry
Ags foundry
Bjorndammen foundry
Bisbperg mine
Dunshammar
Flatenbergs foundry
Flogbergets mine
Grangshammar
Hogfors
Karmansbo
Klens foundry
Kloten
Korsans forge
Klackberg
Langshyttan
Lapp foundry
Melings foundry ruin
Moss mine
Norns foundry
Ohs foundry
Oljeon
Ombenning

Polhems wheel
Sala Silver mine
Silvberg
Svinryggen
Sura factory museum
Skottvangs mine
Trangfors
Ulfs foundry
Vintjarns mine

Remaining visits.
....................................
Akers Styckebruk
Roda Earth
Stjarnsund
Kloster
Loa foundry
Pershyttan
Trummelsbergs foundry
Nora veteran rail
Falu copper mine
Hillänget Ludvika
Tykarps cave
Riddarhyttan copper
Ramnäs valsverk
Kratte foundry
Mojsen Grängesberg

Info writing about Silver mine new history. Ref. 1

Info writing about the mine from 1954. Ref. 1

Sala Ancient society - Watersystem. Ref. 1
Links

Historien om gruvan av Lars Eriksson
Swedish text

Gruvhistoria
Swedish text

Gruvhistoria 2
Swedish text

Sala Silvergruva

Silver mining

Map over mining area. Ref. 1
Map over mining area. Ref.1 Rune stone at the parish. ref. 1
Rune stone let in as a parish ground stone. Ref. 1.
Rune stone text. Ref. 1
Rune stone text. Ref. 1
Example for fire setting. Ref. 1
Example for fire setting. Ref. 1
Utgrävning av gruvby 1955-57. Bild från gruvmuseet. Ref. 1
Picture from mine museum showing area of mine village. 1955-57. Ref. 1

  Knektschaktets lave. Ref. 1
Pit Head building over Soldier shaft. Place for tourist elevator to be used down to 155 m level.  Ref. 1

Sala Silver mine.
My interpretation of the history of the mine.

Sala Silvermine with ancestry from the iron age is one of the best preserved and taken care of mines in Sweden. Here one can  imagine mining back to the 300th century.

In Dunshammar, south of Fagersta a place can be seen where lake ore has been taken from the bottom of a lake and the place where this lake ore has been refined. This place was active during the time 300 - 900 AD.

The oldest written papper know about Sala mine is dated 1510. To search dokuments from times before this are a very difficult matter. As comparison can be said that there is a previlige letter from 1354 which handle about East Silvbergs mine.

Instead one handle the problem of the development in Sala area, placed in terms of time. The village we today call mine village, where the mine labor lived, can be dated back to 200 AD. This place is found south of Herr Stens Bottom, just connected to the swedish road 70 which today connect Sala and Västerås. The people here were of course also farmers, but this didn't gave enough to live on. They broke secondly iron ore which they refined.

Map from info writing 1954. Ref. 1
Map from 1954 
Mining area present surrounding  mining area from info writing 1954. Ref. 1
The area 1954 

When talking about the mine and trying to place it in term of time, when it was discovered, one must take several things in consideration. No mine has suddenly been discovered and that ore braking started a certain day. When a mine is active means that there are several persons working in the area. This means that mining has started slowly several years earlier in the area. Such mining excisted in the end of 1100 AD. But the need was not silver, instead it was iron.

At this time all activities always started  from zero and developed then slowly till the right usefull product had been refined. When speaking of mines someone with knowledge started to refine the ore secretly. When he earn some money and take help of others, as paid workers, to bring more ore fromt his secret place. Now the process has started. People around get to know a place where to earn money and everything is developed to what is called a mine.

In Sala a type of ore named blood stone is started to be broken in the neigbourhoods of Sala pond. The area is called "Springargruvan". Here is "Lugnas" mine situated which has got it's name from a geolog, Lars Lugndal, who in 1850 made maps over this area. This special mine gave ore with up to 62% iron. About 50 open shafts holes aew found here. These breaking places were open and followed an shallow ore body. These are a number of such places and can be dated from 1160.

At 1100th century. Middle Ages or Viking age. The need was iron to make tools for travelings, farming and weapons. At this time there was no Sala pond, instead a smaller lake with surounding marsh.

Map over scandinavian settlments, or areas with scandinavian influence, from 700- (darkred), 800- (red), 900- (orange) and 1000 (yellow). Green means areas , which often were vulnerable attacs from vikings and visits but with few or no settlements. Ref. 49.

The knowledge to refine iron ore to useable iron was known since long time. In the end of Middle Ages argentite was found, which is the closest to pure silver one can reach without refine the ore in Sweden. This happened in both ares of Sala pond and Sala silver mine. The most common ore was though lead glans.

Cross section of themine. Ref. 1
The Sala mine cross section. Ref. 1
Tales

One is about "Bråsta-Lasse". It connect to the comman story about his domestic animals, in this case cows. They came home with silvery horns. Silver ore outside the mine area of today was found probably in the 1200th century. The place where the cows rubbed their horns was north "Herr Stens Botten". It was zinc blende which was bonded on the horns.

When "Bråsta Lasse" and his farmhands followed their cows they saw the anmals scrub their horns against the earth. It was some kind of stones which showed up the land surface and strated to glitter in an unusual way. When the farmer investigated the earth he saw that it was glittering in many places. It showed that he had found a rock of "silver".

"Bråsta-Lasse" became rich of all silver ore (zinc blende). He could hire mine hands and their job was to make fire settings against the rock walls and by this reason it became brittle and cracked. Of course he wanted to keep this secret, but now in the end of 1400 the rumour spred all over. But before this "Bråsta-Lasse" was running with refining silver. Now he was a rich farmer.

At last "Bråsta-Lasse" and his wife "Margit" became to proud and distinguished. One day the farmer made horse shoes from silver an shoed one of his riding horses, just to show how rich he was.

At christmas "Bråsta-Lasse" was riding to Sala parish. All other farmers had bound their horses outside, but the rich farmer decided to ride into the church. The priest and the whole flock turned and the horse became unsure. The ekipage dropped over and "Bråsta-Lasse" was under, all because of slippery shoes.

This was not good for "Bråsta-Lasse" because he broke one of his legs. The wound didn't heal and at last his leg must be amputated. The farmer was near to die. When he was healthy again he got some kind of prothes instead of his lost leg.
Sala parish. Ref. 1
This tale became so wellkown that in the Sala parish weapon porch, there is a painting which show "Bråsta-Lasse" with his wooden leg. Shoeing his horse was naturally unusually silly. Silver is much softer than iron and walking on the floor stones in a church is very slippery.

This tale is of course changed as "Bråsta-Lasse" probably only had dipped the horse shoes in melted silver and in this way got them shining.

The whole story with "Bråsta-Lasse", whose real name was Lars Ingvaldsson, is painted inside the parish weapon porch. (coming picture)

Another tale, which maybe a little mor thrustworthy, is speaking of Estonians and Finns who moved to Sala area 1187. According to legend the leaders name was "PäPälle", translated to Head Per. The place is said to be "Old Herr Stens Botten". "Päpälle" wanted to keep the place secret as they said "fördold". The word sala is Finnish language and translated to swedish "fördold" (ulterior).

To get the time dated for ore beaking in the Sala area, tales are often used. One such is when "Holy David" arrived in Sala Area. Gustav Hedlén has written in his "Histories and tales about Sala Silvermine". According to this silver ore was found. Holy David arrived about 1070. He walked alone and arrived at lake "Långforsen", which only was a small marsh at this time. This lake was not dammed until 1600th century. Here he met a man who informed him that ore was found in so called "Rymningar", which was open hollows in the earth. People were though not responsive for redemption because they still hold the Asa  Goods for holy. They chased David away and slapped him unconscious. Later on this place a church was built.


The next mine in Sala area of early date is somewhere in lake "Långforsen". This lake can you look up to if  a cup cup of coffee and s nice sandwich are ordered at Måns Ols tavern. This lake was at the 1100-1200 a marsh and it was dammed 1500.  The mine itself is not found today, but it would be situated in the lake just some 100 m:s north Måns Ols. Pilk fishing people say that in one place all fishing line can let be out.

Richard Meurman has in his treatise "Silverberg i Järnbärarland" tried to explain mining activity in Sala area, the above is taken from there. Generally speaking it is supposed that during 1400th century the activ mining was big around "Herr Stens Botten". Every labor group were there own miner. The workers living village where all lived in simple houses had about 1000-2000 inhabitants. To compare with Stockholm at this time which had 3-4000. In the beginning of 1480 Swedish crown took over by saying that Sala was an interest of Sweden. All mine was now controlled by employed leaders. All silver was bought by the crown and was delivered to Stockholm.

The place where silver was found was understood that it was something more valuable than iron. The knowledge how to refine silver had the vikings learned when travelling, in the first place to Constantinople. The complicated chemical process wich was needed to refine bigger amount of silver from the silver ores at this time was not possible. Instead it was only the argentite ore wich in the beginning could be used. The knowledge to refine zink blende was also kown but was not developed until in the end of 1400.


The reason why Sala mine became so important during time when Sten Sture the old and the younger and King Gustav Vasa, depended on politics at this time. Sweden was growing into a country. It was important to have money to fight the Danish who had the opposite thinking through Kristan Tyrant. 

When talking about mines in different ways. One mean open, underground and of bigger activity with many miner workers. Breaking ore against open rock face and open hollows. These types of mines often keep their names even when breaking is increased undreground. In Swedish "skärpning", "rymning" and even "kungsrymning". "Herr Stens Botten" is such a mine.

The great mine became the collective name for all breaking hollows around Old "Herr Stens Botten" and "Sandrymningen"  and all shafts which later were started. "Old Sten" is aimed the country supervisor Sten Sture the old.


About horses and horse winds.
In the mine museum the use of horses is told. Photoes is taken in the mine museum.

Sala mine last horse wind..

Part for the lats horse wind in Sala. Ref. 1Horse winds were used to bring up ore, rest stones and water from the depth of the mine. This last horse wind parts at Sala silver mine was once placed beside the market shaft Stens Bottom south east end during 1700-1800. It was saved from beeing burned by Hedvig Samuelsson. She was married to Bengt Samuelsson, mine forman for Bronäsgruvan active 1945-1962.

The Avesta Iron works supervisor, Sten Sandlund had decided that it would be demounted and put on fire. This was done and petrol was poured on the wooden parts. After this the clerk left. But in this moment Hedvig came with two buckets of water and put out the fire

When the clerk came back to control Hedvig was standing there and said that it was not for any use to set it on fire again.

The clerk was angry and tryed another time but again Hedvig came with water and put it out. He now understodd that it was no meaning to force his orders and went to supervisor Sandlund.

"I tried to set the wind on fire but a woman came every time and put out the fire!" he declared for Sandlund. Now Sandlund became angry and went straight down to the fire place. But  Hedvig was here and when Sandlund met her eye to eye he understood that he had lost. Now he changed his decision and the horse wind was saved for the coming world.
Note. But why isn't this wind mounted on the boring yard in front of mine reception.

Horse winds were used already during the Middle Ages in mines. From early 1800 there were several winds around at Sala silver mine. There were winds for two to four horses working, but sometimes the number could be eight.

The horse winds primerly aim was to bring up the ore in barrels.

During almost 400 years since the time of Gustav Vasa in the 1600th century, up to the break through of  industrialism 1900, where horses used to give power to the hoist system. These horse winds hoisted up a bucket from the shafts with the help of horses. When the horses above the earth pulled a stock to rotation in the horse wind, the rope in which the bucket was fastened started to move. One bucket went down and one was pulled upwards. In this way the weight was balanced and the silver ore could be hoisted up. Very strong ropes were required made of hamp or bullocks skin. The 150-200 m long hamp ropes were impregnated with tar and could weigh more than 1000 kg.

Many horses were needed.

To make these horse winds function a great many horses were nedeed. During 1500 there were often 8 horses ready for every wind. As horses couldn't work for 24 hours changes were often made. One must realize that there were several shafts to hoist rock, workers and also water. In the end of 1500 there were at least 5 winds in the shafts area and during 1650 the number were 9. This make quit many horses for every day work. The rock owners and city burghers from 1624, which were part owners in the mine planned for this reason large meadows areas to feed horses.

Horse winds were used for a long time.

Horse wind at Moss mine in Norberg. Ref. 1When water pumps and horse winds were started to be driven by water power during 1600, the need for horses decreased, but still they played an important roll. There were always lack of water and the winds must always be ready to start working, specially for Christina's shaft. Not until 1900 were horse driven machines out of date. Steam and electricity took over the heavy work. The wind at the shaft of the market place was not demounted until 1950. (Picture show a wind at moss mine in Norberg.)

Horses were used 200 m down in the mine. Horse harness.

Swedish farminghorse in the mine. Ref. 1To be able to bring a horse down in the mine a special kind of harness was needed. It was difficult to bring the horses down in the mine, like in Queen Christina's deep and broad shaft A horse dresssed in a leather harness was hoisted down and also brought up. Above all the horses must be kept calm when the harness was mounted on the miserable animals would be hoisted 200 m down in a deep chasm. The horses got their eyes covered and were calmed down by their keeper. One problem arose when a horse would go to a level above bottom. In this case several miners hade to pull the horse to enter the landing-stage by using a boathook. From natural reasons these horses very seldom were taken up to the sun shine. This was made only twice a year for the dozens of horses which lived in the mine. The stay on ground was limited to some weeks every time.   (The picture show a swedish farmer horse. A photo from the mine museum.)

An old harness.

The old time horse lifting harness. Ref. 1The old harnes which is shown in the exhibition has been used to transport mine horses down in Sala Silvermine. It is dated from at least 1800.
(The picture show a harness used in Sala silver mine.)  

Horses below ground level.

It took a rather long time before horses started to be used at Sala silvrmine in underground. It was difficult to bring the horses down into a mine. The question was also if a horse would accept the environment. The first main problem was to produce a rope strong enough to wear a horse. Another was that a rope lengthen itsef under heavy weight. During 1600 the possibilities were improved by skilfull german engineers. Big roomy shafts were built, effective pumps were installed and systamatic breaking lowered the risk for slides. The big and broad shafts made that the smoke from all fires more easy  could be let out.

The first horses in the mine 1675.

The mine authority decided to make trials with horses in underground. On the 24th of February 1675 the first horse was hoisted down, dressed in a special harness, down into the Queen Christina's shaft. The horses would pull heavy brackets from deep levels loaded with silver ore to hoisting place. It was of course an unpleasent feeling for the horse to hang in this harness and hoisted down to 190 m level. The result of  this trial went well - 10 years later the number of horses were increased to 12. When Charles XI went down into the mine 1687 a horse wing was used to bring the king down to the bottom of the mine - 250 m level.

Under ground stable.

The resting place for a horse down the mine.  Ref. 1The horses had a stable like resting place prepared down in the mine. One at 190 m level. Certain horse keepers handled these stables and fed them with food and water. They were also responsible for their care. These keepers followed the horses when they worked with pulling silverminewagons to the big shafts. Horses also wotked in undergorud with horse winds for transport of rock from deeper levels. (Note the harness on the horse.)

Up in the sun twice a year.

The horses were forced to stay down in darkness of the mine for long times.One or twice they were hoisted up in the special harness. Itr was only about to rest, fresh gras and sunshine. During this "vacation time" some weeks every summer because they were needed to help with cleaning all water chanels.

Accidents with horses involved.

Very little informations about accidents with horses exist. This don't exclude that it happened - in judge protocol and other documents unknown stories can hide.

Horses died when Sandrymningen collapsed.

Some occurences connected to mine horses can be mentioned. When Big Mine Sandrymningen collapsed 1640 were horses shut in their work places. It was tent like buildings where they pulled a wind. They followed down in the depth. Super visor of the mine Hans Ranie described the accident as follow 1711..

"One sunday afternoon when evening church service was held. The whole roof above horse winds, water flat rods and buildings fell down and sank to the bottom, all at the place lived didn't escaped with life..."

Ranie also desribed that the rumble from this collapse was so  powerful that the walls and vaults in Christine Church in Sala was trembling. Some horses must hav died in this great accident. A photographer Bjorn Carlander found parts from at horse cranium, when he investigated the rocks from this Sandrymningen collapse, for some years ago (2000). It is possible that this horse rests belong to one of those killed in this 1640 collapse.

One mine horse fell down in a shaft

Another accident handle about a mine horse working under ground and fell further down into a rock shelter at the end of 1600. The minehand worker and the boy who trreated the horse were punished as they had not had enough control of the horse and in this way caused the death. Brun was judged to sit 12 hours in prison (bin) and the boy was forced to sit on the punishment tool wooden horse sharp place. This accident show that is was not dangerous for horses to work in the mine and specially near deep rock walls and shafts.

Pitponies in Great Britain.

English pitponnies in a mine. Ref. 1Without doubt those in Great Britain are the most famous mine horses. Those ponnies - so called "pit ponnies" - who pulled wagons in English and Welsh coal mines, created the picture of a mine horse. Already 1790 the first horses were down in britsih mines, but during 1900th centure the number increased heavily. One cause for this was a law 1842 which forbid women and children under ten to work under ground. In this case strong horses were needed to transport coal in the mines. More than 70000 horses worked in the mines during 2000th century. The horses lived in under ground stables - only during longer stops the horse hoisted up. The last under ground horse in Great Britain were left till 1999.

Also mine horses in Germany and China.

Even in the German coal mines where there a quit many mine horses working. At least 20000 horses were hard working in the mines of Germany during 1910th.  Horses were terminated during 1950th and 60th. One of the last ponnies in a coal mine of Ruhr was Tobias and came up for the last time 1966. In Japan horses were used to pull wagons till 1920th, when electrical locos took over in the larger mines. Mine horses have been used in different places in Poland, such as the Polish salt mines like Wielicka, Kongsberg silver mine  in Norway and in Chile.

Area map. Ref. 1
Area map over Sala silver mine. Ref. 1.

Page 2
Back

Vaktare med batshake. Ref. 1
Picture above. The watchman brings the bucket in to the platform with a boathook. Picture to the left show a watchman shouting uppward to start the wind. Further more he controlled the water pump. A fire setting is ready to lit in the middle. Note the horse down to the right. Ref. 1 En fin bild av gruvhäst i arbete från museet. Ref. 1
A wonderful picture of a minehorse with it's leader. Photo from themmine museum. Ref. 1
One horse on the way down in the mine. There the horse worked for at least 3 months. Picture from the mines museum by artist Bo Svärd. Ref. 1En modell av gruvan. Se stegen som är en triangel. Alla håligheter som sedan gjorde att gruvan rasade. Ref. 1
A model of the mine showing in the mine museum. See the ladder design like a triangle. All hollows whichmade the mine collapse. Ref. 1Annan vy av gruvan i tvärsnitt. Man kunde inte på den tiden planera i 3 dimensioner, vilket sedan gjorde att gruvan rasade. Ref. 1
Another picture of the mine in cross section. The knowledge to plan in 3 dimensions was not able. The knowledge to know where all hollows were situated was not known. This lack of  understanding made the mine to collapse. Ref. 11956 i Bronäsgruvan bröt man hela 5600 kg silver 1956. Ref. 1
In the Bronäsmine pure 5600 kg silver 1956. Ref. 1Receptionen enligt bild från 2009. Ref. 1
Reception according a picture from 2009. Ref. 1Ett gäng på väg till 155 m:s nivån i Knekt schaktet. Ref. 1
One group on teh way to Soldier shaft to enter the elevator down to 155 m. It takes 4 min. :s level. There are two builing elevators poered by two comprssed air motors. They work against a rack. Ref. 1En av de vattenkanale planerade av George Griesback. ef. 1
One of the chanels which George Griesbach planned and got digged. Just this on starts at Måns-Ols and went throught Queen Christan's shaft. Picture taken just north reception. Ref. 1

 Model av gruvan på museet. Ref. 1
Model of the mine in the minemuseum. System for water pumps far left. Ref. 1

Sala Silver mine. History.
Visiting the mine museum you can in the timeline read the following history information.

Sala Silver mine is the most important silver mine in Sweden. Totally 450 tons of silver and 36000 tons of lead have been broken in this mine.

Historic there are datings which show that breaking of silver in Sala started during 1100 with very low frequence. The very first mine openings are to be found a few km north of the main mine area, near the dammed lake Långforsen in the so calld Lujans mine. This is positioned in the lake just north Måns Ols inn.

In the end of 1400 mining stepped up. The rich deposit in "Herr Stens Botten" started to be broken and this gave large amount of silver for the crown. 1510 and forward Sala is mentioned in lots of documents. 1512 Sten Sture the old issued a previlige document for the mine.

The heydays for the mine was during the regim of Gustav Vasa. In 1530 and 1540 nearly 3500 tons pure silver every year, was delivered. Gustav Vasa (the crown) bought all silver from the owners who leased the mine from the crown, furthermore the crowm also put noticeable taxes for those who produced the silver. The taxation of the big mine village gave some income. Therfore it is not surprising that Gustav Vasa called the mine for "The tax chamber of Sweden".

In the end of 1500 and beginning of 1600 a number of serious landslips happened. Several human beeings were killed and periodically the mine organisation had to use war and convicts to keep the mine runnig. Charles IX called for foreing experts to create a better system of breaking the rock. The result was that some deep shafts started to be opened and hollows were made from these. In this way the search for ore became more systematic

Among those impressing shafts that were opened during 1600 is the soldier in which awater pump system was installed. The transport shaft Queen Christina and the unprecedented shaft (Makalös shaft). During 1600 new more effectiv pumps were installed in the mine. Through bankings lakes an extensive watersystem was created. The water which led to the mine was used to give power to 10 m diameter water wheels. This was used to drive new machines like elvators and pumps in the mine. In this way breaking could continue down to a depth of over 200 m, in spite of huge amount of ground water.

Guvans upptagningsområde för vatten. Ref. 1
Water area for the machines of the mine. Ref. 1

When Queen Christina shaft opened 1650 - depth had reached down to 190 m a large amound of good ore could be broken. In this way Sala silver mine got it's second heyday wigth a yearly silver production of 1000 kg. During the latter part of 1600 most work was down at 190 -160 m. In order to avoid landslips large columns were saved.

During 1700 the mine was forced to go through several difficult down periods. But in the middle of 1700 the production increased again through new deposits in the region of 40 - 135 m levels. This was called the half way ores. The present part of the guidings at 40 to 60 m and the mine of Ulrica down to 155 were used in this time.

In 1800 large changes were made at Sala silver mine. Several shafts were opened to larger depth. Queen Christina's shaft opened up to 257 m. The shaft of Gustav III to 267 m and Charles XI shaft to 318,6 m. The ore was also concentrated that even lead was taken care of. The mine became an important lead shot producer.

Karl XI schakt. Ref. 1
Charles XI shaft.

In the end of 1800 even more changes were made. Up to 1887 all breaking had used powder or fire settings (heating of the rock wall and after that the ore was lose broken with tools like axes). Now Nobel had invented dynamite and the work became much faster and the labor number could be decreased.

The crown sold all their interst in the mine 1887 and the connection of land owners that had leased the mine since 1600, Sala rock community, were replaced by private companies.These had different focus like Sala Silver AB put money in sliver production, while AB Salberget and Sala Zink focused on lead or zinc.

Main rock breaking ceased 1908 at Sala Silver mine. Several companies started among them were Swedish metall works and Avesta Iron works took over the mine.

During 1940 a new deposit outside the old area. The breaking in this new mine went on till 1962. After this year no more silver brakings are made. However a type of chalkstone, dolomit is broken underground at "Tistbrottet". Since 1988 Sala silver mine is owned by Sala community.

This new company Sala Silver mine AB is now responsible for administration and care of the historical industrial memories which King Charles XI called "The premier Clenodium of Sweden".

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Pictures from the following owners have been used in bjorns-story.se with the apropriate permission:
Reference 1: © Björn Bellander bjorn.bellander(at)telia.com
Reference 49: ©Picture from Wikipedia

 
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