Swedish Stone Tour
Ryan Stewart (USA) has graciously agreed to share information relating to his recent trip to Sweden. During that trip, Ryan and Nic Whalen visited a number of testing stones. This series of posts covers some of the stones they visited.
Translation From A Tourist Sign
Once upon a time when it was still common for farms to employ hired hands, the farmers naturally wanted to have what they called a "complete farmhand".
In those days it was vital that farm hands were extremely strong. This was before the age of tractors and machines, so the farmhands had to do a lot of heavy lifting and other strenuous physical labour.
One way to determine if a farmhand was strong enough ws to have hime perform a
"drangalyft" (farmhand lift), sometimes called the "stone lift".
The stones used in the lift were nearly always egg shapred, which made them difficult to grip.
So the farmhand needed not only a strong body and arms, but strong fingers as well.
The stones weighed 100 to 150kg.
In order to be classified as a "complete farmhand", the men had to lift the stones up to chest height.
Sometimes they were also required to carry the stone a certain distance.
In some areas, particularly in southerm Skane, farmhands were classified as "whole hands" and "half hands", and thee were two different grades of lift test. Naturally, the half hand was paid less and wasn't treated as well in general when it came to clothing, working hours, lodging etc.
The village farm hands also used the lift test to establish the hierarchy among themselves. The
hand who was most proficient inthe lift test was the highest in the hierarchy.
The oldest information about the lift test in this country is from 1667, and regards a lift-testing stone in the village of Ossjo in south Ljunga parish. Here in Kronoberg county there are about 20 preserved lift-testing stones.
Other evidence suggests that about 10 other stones have disappeared.
The preserved lift-testing stones are ancient monuments and protected by law.
This particular stone is located in Vedåsa, Sweden. A very small town consisting of a few small houses. It scaled in at daunting 199kg/438lb.
Nic and Ryan
Sigurd's monument is named after Alfred Hedenenstiema. It was raised by the local Folklore society
in 1952 - within a year of the centennery of his birth.
This was in recognition of his published works. These covered the lives of common people as well as
songs and novels. He also contributed articles to a number of national newspapers.
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