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. (acc. prof.
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 AC.
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
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 1954
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
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.
The Sala mine.
Cross section. Ref. 1
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
If I realy understand the situation that
Bråsta-Lasse discovered one good silver ore lode
the year must have been early 1100 or earlier.
In the silver collection which is left after
King Gustav Vasa had confiscated most of the
church silver is said to be presented by
Bråsta-Lasse. One can read on one of the lower six
edges latin text and on another text written
with rune style engraved.
"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. The church was built during 1300.
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. He died later by what reason is unknown. He and his
wife got later a buriel plate of stone according to the picture
from unknown persons. Note the sligt slitage of the surface of
the plate. By this reason it must have been placed as a floor
plate in some church.
The text on the plate say that Bråsta-Lasse
died 1515 and his wife 1510. When this stone was delivered is
unknown. Normally such stones were only used in cathedrals and
were covering a grave in the floor of the churches according to
practice. May be long time had gone and any rests of
Bråsta-Lasse and his wife couldn't be found. Instead the stone
was placed on the wall in the weapon-house.
The picture when he rode into the
curch according to the tale has never been made. Only one
picture in an information booklet from Sala Silver mine drawn in
the late 1900 by art Bo Svärd.
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.
Another tale, which maybe a little more
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" (in english 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 Gods for holy. They chased David away and
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 if a 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
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 1400 the active mining was large around
"Herr Stens Botten". Every labor group there owned a mine. 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
more valuable than iron. The knowledge how to refine silver had
the vikings learned when travelling, in the first place in Constantinople. The complicated chemical process wich
was needed to refine bigger amount of silver from the silver
ore at this time was not possible. sas 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 mine
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
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.