Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Limestone of Öland

We love heavy, solid harvest tables that are sturdy enough to place a sculpture upon, that can hold massive arrangements of  branches or handle multiple wooden bowls laden to over flowing with the bounty of the fall orchard.  Bring it on!  The Swedish farm table can handle all of it! One of the most Herculean, dramatic and beautiful of the farm tables that we carry is a Swedish baroque table form topped traditionally with Öland limestone.

You can also find such a Swedish table at Lief in Los Angeles (above)
...Öland limestone mounted on an oak base, this table is
from 1740 and has a stone top that is an impressive 2 inches thick.

Raukar Sunset, Öland by Erik Aabjerg Friis.

Öland limestone was one of Sweden’s dominant rock exports during the 1600’s. The islands rock formations are stark and unusal and “rauk” or stone columns created by natural erosion can be found here as well as on the islands of Gotland and Fårö.

Stone Tower and Orchid by Zoefae Haas.

Carl Linnaeus himself noted in 1741 that the shallow soil and limestone topography creates a unique environment and haven for wildflowers such as Burnt Orchid (above), Henbane and Pasque Flower.

A drawing of Borgholm Castle showing it's Baroque Towers designed by Niccodemis Tessin the Elder.

Limestone from Öland was exported all over Europe for building purposes  but it's most impressive architectural form can still be seen on Öland today at the ruins of Bornholm Castle.   Bornholm was built and torn down and then rebuilt many times during its 800 years due to war and fire.  A fantastic history of the castle can be found on the Bornholm website: http://www.borgholmsslott.se/  Here we learn that in 1572 King Johan III's Renaissance reconstruction of the castle began:  " His plan was to create a modern Renaissance palace in the Italian manner. He wanted to break with the medieval traditions and sent for the four Pahr Brothers – German-Italian builders who had acquired their idiom from the pattern books of the Antiquity and the European Renaissance. Johan Baptista Pahr was the first architect King Johan III had appointed to Borgholm, but he stayed only for two years, 1572–1573. After that, his brother Domenicus Pahr took over.

The quarrying of building blocks from the limestone bedrock of the moor (”alvaret”) – began in 1568, the same year as Johan became king. He let a lot of the old castle be torn down, but used old foundation walls whenever they fit into the drawing, e.g. for the west wing. The lime was burnt in lime-burners nearby, presumably at Strandtorp, while timber, tar and birch-bark were transported by boat from Småland. White lime was taken from Gotland and well-trimmed limestone-blocks from northern Öland.

Red and grey limestone flooring in the ruins of Bornholm Castle.

The limestone of Öland is still being quarried today but on a much smaller scale.  Wonderfully rich, mellow red and grey limestone slabs and tiles can be found at Sjostrom Stenforadling http://www.sjostreomstenforadling.com/.

We celebrate this fall the simple stone and wood table and hope that
you are as inspired by the beauty of Öland as we are!


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