Many years ago I went on an excursion in the village Nyberget, Stora Skedvi, where my mum grew up. We climbed a mountain just outside the village and the view was magnificent. The striking view was however not the purpose of this excursion, but instead we had all come to see for ourselves how young people from way back when had found a lot more important things to do on Midsummer’s Eve than to sing ”Små grodorna” and dance round the May Pole…
The lecturer, Stig Welinder, a well-known archeologist who at that time lived in the village, shared both details about many of the couples and facts found in the many church archives from the actual time. In Sweden it is possible to track our ancestors several hundred years back in time and this was also what the archeologist had done, in detail. He could tell stories of families with happy or sad moments in their lives, all facts verified and found in public archives where anyone could have found pretty much the same information if only we had spent that time. Many of the young couples in the local area had climbed this very mountain on Midsummer’s Eve to enjoy the sunset together. To remember the day, they carved their names in the rocks on top of the mountain and also planned for a future life together. The place was well-known in the nearby villages as ”Skrivarhällen”(Welinder, 1992) and not just the teenagers from one of the villages climbed the mountain, but also those who lived on the other side of the mountain, a bit further away.
The rock carvings can still be found, if you first climb the mountain! 😀
Among other things that Welinder shared with us in his lecture, was the nature of names in Dalarna at the time when the rock carvings were made. But there were just a few different names that seemed to be popular, and a few names were just the same, so in order to know who was who, you needed to add the name of the farm, or place, such as Petter Danielson, On the Hill. His son would be named after his father, Daniel Pettersson + On the Hill, and his son in turn, would most likely be called Petter Danielsson+ On the Hill… For women, the use of daughter would be used instead of son.
I would, for instance, have had the family name Dalkesdotter, since I am the daughter of Dalke. My brother would acoordingly have been called Dalkesson. During the 23 years I have been teaching I have noticed the change in naming. When I graduated in 1991, many of my first students had names that have been used in our country for generations. Boys names like Daniel, Peter, Mikael, Anders and girls names like Anna, Maria, Kristina, Helena, Ylva etc. But after a few years of teaching I noticed that many of the boys now rather had names like, Kevin, Justin, Jim, Tim, Tom and girls had names like Natalie, Felicia, Caroline, Nellie etc. Nowadays we find a lot of different names, a variation that can be connected to our complex world with input from not just the local area, but from other parts of the world.
My own name, Åsa, is from the time before Sweden was Christened and means ”goddess”. Very few little Åsa’s are to be found nowadays, but instead some of the names that I would connect to old relatives are coming up as new favourite names for kids. It’s funny how one sometimes hear parents call for their little ones and you expect a person in their seventies to approach behind a tree in the park, but instead a little toddler, called Bosse or Leif, will meet his Mom with a lovely smile!
My friend the archeologist from the mountain top is a very good example of being modern at the same time as he cherishes the value of how our ancestors chose to live their lives. What footprints or fingerprints will our generation leave? No mountains will be filled with names, but maybe we will share something else that is just as interesting and important? Let’s hope so!
Welinder, S (1992) on Skrivarhällen i southern Dalarna, Bergslagen, Sweden