Finngruvorna – the abandoned mines
The history of Finngruvorna (the Finn mines) began in 1695 when Lisa Ersdotter discovered something that could be cupper ore while keeping an eye on the cattle and reported it to the local miners who soon found that she was right. The timing was right because the other cupper mines were not giving as much ore as they once did and the people were so grateful that she got a silver bowl as thanks. The silver bowl is now owned by the parish and is used when a christening is held in the home.
Traces of mining done before 1695 has been found, but nobody knows when and how successful they were. Besides, that part of Sweden has a very young history – it begins towards the end of the 16th century when King Karl IX persuaded and/or forced people to move there from Finland. Before that it was only deep woods and even if we know that a few souls must have lived there before that no written accounts exist to give us a clue about who they were and what they did to earn their living.
The mines were abandoned for good during the 19th century but 12 waterfilled mines of various sizes and depth remain – the deepest mine is a little over 50 metres deep.
The walls tell us that they didn’t use gunpowder or any other explosives here. Instead they lit fires to heat up the mountain up to over 560 degrees C when it began cracking. The method was slow but cheap and in 1789 a person concluded that the method was still cheaper than the use of gunpowder. How you can see the difference? It’s easy – just look at the walls and see how even and round they are. Gunpowder, dynamite etc leave a much rougher surface.
One of the disadvantages with that method was of course that it consumed enormous quantities of wood. The woods we see around the mines today are not as old as we may think; they are only about 100 years. Before that, not many trees were left because the mines and the blast furnaces (who needed charcoal) had consumed it all.
Working as a miner back then was probably anything but pleasant. Hard work, heat and smoke from the fires, cold water dripping in the mine etc. They obviously tried to compensate themselves for what they endured and the ways they knew – and took – made the men of God very concerned about their souls.
There is another word for describing the way the discipline was kept and that is torture, but from time to time the people in charge complained about the lack of discipline among the workers. I’m happy to live here and now because things were not always good back in “the good old days”.
Old mines are not friendly to the environment. Metals like cupper, lead and cadmium are leaking from them and pose a risk for humans and wild life. The only comfort is that the authorities have made investigations showing the the risks are moderate in this area.
The “dangerous chemistry of the mines” often leave beautifully coloured water in the old mines for us to enjoy when looking at it.
The colours may not be quite true here, but I purposely exaggerated them to give you a hint of what it sometimes may look like. Besides, if the camera saw something I couldn’t see – why not just let the camera decide here?