Corona Diary, Day 36

Monday, 20 April

I realised just in time that my annoyance at a customer calling me to discuss a translation on a Sunday was somewhat flawed as it is in fact Monday today. I must get into the habit of having a recalibration session with Alexa at the start of the day… It confirms my feeling that I have to work harder on creating a time structure for the day now that I have few external reminders. I felt out of sorts yesterday, hard to concentrate, hopping from Dorset to Uppsala and back again without being able to be absorbed in what I was doing. And this was perhaps a result of over-lengthy sessions.

It wasn’t in any case a prelude to being ill as I feel refreshed and fit for fight today. After my chronic bemusement, I write to a friend in London, which has been on list for some time and then decide to go on an excursion to Valgärde, a couple of kilometres away from Gamla Uppsala, another old burial ground that I’ve read about. Fortunately I decide to use my bike; it would otherwise have been quite a hike but I accomplish it swiftly, safely and comfortably on the dedicated cycle track. It’s a fine day with the softness of spring in the air.

The burial ground is a kilometre or so off the road, peaceful and deserted with the River Fyris flowing past. No problem with social distancing here. It was in use from the sixth to the eleventh century, from the Vendel period through the Viking period, and contains both graves where the body has been burnt and graves of the rich and powerful where the body has been buried intact, with various objects for use in the after world, in ship burials and (presumably) later Christian burials.

The information board mentions the similarities with Sutton Hoo in England. Some of the excavations were led by Greta Arwidsson, Sweden’s first female professor of Scandinavian and Comparative Archaeology (results published in 1942, 1954 and 1977). There are picture of helmets that I’d like to see and I shall have to see what I can find in Uppsala’s museums post-Corona  (I’m getting such a list of things that I can’t do now but want to do post-Corona that I’d better create a post-Corona reconstruction file).

Pasque flowers in bloom on the mounds, pulsatille vulgaris (which I think means “common quiverer”). Its name in Swedish is backsippa, anémone pulsatille in French

To understand the area better, I’d like to get hold of a map showing where the water was in the period that the burial ground was in use. The land has been gradually rising and there was much more water around then that there is now. The Fyris river was perhaps broader and deeper. The river also passes close to Gamla Uppsala on its passage down to Lake Mälaren and it seems reasonable to think that there was a connection between these places and that much transport took place by boat. According to the information board, there are many places further up the river with ancient remains. A journey following the river upstream would be fun but maybe too ambitious for me to do by bike.

Modern Uppsala was in any case at the very southern end of this area, then referred to as Östra Aros, which, according to one source meant the Eastern Estuary (vis a vis Västerås as the Western Estuary); I haven’t checked how reliable this attribution is. Large areas of what is now modern Uppsala were either under water or at least waterlogged during this early period. This is a problem for theories that Adam of Bremen’s temple (or hall) was located in central Uppsala (described in Magnus Altorp’s  “Bilden av det förflutna” in “Uppsala, då, nu och i framtiden”).

There’s a lot to be interested in and I feel more and more contented with my move to Uppsala.

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