Estbröte

On our island, my younger son and I take a trip to a lakeside builders supply shop, the kind of place where practical people buy mysterious things, in this case,  various objects for the finishing touches to a jetty refurbishment project. Crossing the lake, the rain and choppy water remind us that we are 59 degrees north. But in between bumps, there is the pleasure of passing closely by the small island of Estbröte. It’s bigger than a skerry but not much bigger. A hill rising out of the water with two summer houses, owned by a local municipality and boarded up so that it’s practically a nature reserve.

Landing is permitted though I’ve never done so.

There is an ancient fortification at the top but the main attraction is the story in Erikskrönikan (Erik’s Chronicle), written between 1320 and 1335 (Wiki). This tells us about Jon Jarl who returned to his home on a larger island close to Estbröte about 1200 after nine years crusading against Russians and Ingrians in the east. Sadly for him, the joy of homecoming was short as he was killed by pirates the very first night. His wife escaped across the water to what is now the suburb of Norsborg on the rede metro line but was then known as Hundhamra. She was understandably much grieved about her husband’s fate and gathered together what folk she could find. According to the saga, they caught up with the pirates at Estbröte, killed them all and burnt their boats.

Estbröte doesn’t look like a great place for a battle as it rises steeply out of the water with hardly any foreshore (unless the defenders were at the top). But the description of the pursuers catching up with them makes me think that this battle took place on the lake.

I shall read Erik’s chronicle – it feels time to revisit some aspects of Swedish history.

On our way back, frustrated by not finding what was needed at the store, we had our own battle as the rain increased in intensity and being in a small boat in a big lake was not a nice place to be. But unlike the pirates, we got home intact.

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