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Gamla Staberg, a flourishing mine-owner’s estate

Welcome to Gamla Staberg – one of the best-preserved mine-owner’s estates in Kopparbergslagen. Here the visitors will find both red-painted timber buildings from the end of the 17th century and a newly restored baroque garden. Gamla Staberg gives an unusually good all-round picture of how a prominent mine-owning family was able to manifest its status at the end of the 17th century and in the 18th century by shaping its estate in the baroque style of the Caroline era. Gamla Staberg with the dwelling houses in the background. The garden slopes towards the south in the terraces, planted with fruit trees. In the foreground is the kitchen garden, laid out in accordance with the 18th century model, and the two carp ponds.

Gamla Staberg´s baroque garden was restored to its 18th century appearance in 1997-1999, in collaboration with the Vika-Hosjö Local History Society, the County Labour Board, Star Building Training, the Studiefrämjandet adult education, the Cultural Heritage Department of the County Administration and by the owners of Nya Staberg, Lotta and Ivan Örtendahl. The fruit trees were planted in collaboration with the Nordic Gene Bank, with the intention that Gamla Staberg will be a cloning archive varieties of fruit.

The Garden, which is administered and maintained jointly by the Vika-Hosjö Local History Society and the owners of Nya Staberg, Lotta and Ivan Örtendahl, is open to visitors, both individually and in groups. The main building is the centre of the symmetrically ordered site that, in keeping with the baroque ideal, conquers the surrounding landscape by mean of straight lines and axes. Gamla Staberg has therefore, with some justifications, been called “Dalarnas Vesailles” in Falun Red, adapted to harsh climate and stony landscape. Utility is united with pleasure, but with a clear aspiration for neatness and a desire to assert power and importance of the owner.

The history of Gamla Staberg begins in the late Middle ages. The first known occupant was Hans Marqvardsson, who owned the farm in 1539. He was also part owner of the Falun mine. Men with interests in copper production at the mine built their estates in the countryside all around Falun – the distinctive landscape known as Kopparbergsslagen (The Copper Mining District). Many estates were established close watercourses that could power the numerous smelting houses where the copper ore from Falun was turned into crude copper. The huge heaps of copper slag to the west and south of the estate still reminds us of the extensive smelting operations that were carried on at Gamla Staberg for a long time. The possibilities of smelting beside the nearby River Knivaån and the good transport routes over Lake Runn explain why the farm was located here.

Land-survey map of Gamla Staberg from 1753-54. The dwelling house with its wings is the centre of the estate. Pink sight lines radiate axially from the centre. The Garden is visible as six green squares surrounded by yellow sand paths and walls. At the bottom is the smelting house beside the River Knvivaån.

The Nauclér family took over Staberg in 1671 and owned it until 1820. It was under this successful family of mine-owner that the estate took on the form it has today. A distinguished estate in austere Caroline baroque style was gradually built up. We get a good idea of  this estate from a land survey map from 1753-54. The owner’s residence is the core of the estate. From here the lines of sight radiate over the surrounding landscape. The buildings are symmetrically ordered in three enclosed courts: the main court with the dwelling house and its wings, then the middle court to which the drive leads, and to the far north the animal yard with stables and byres. South of the main court is the garden, divided into six squares separated by sand paths and surrounded by a stonewall. Three hop-gardens are also laid out east of the estate.

A close-up view of the garden can be obtained from a plan from 1758. In the 1750s the garden was extended to comprise eight squares. A large number of new fruit trees were also planted. These are marked on the plan as small dots in the square. Yellow sand paths run round the square. Below the orchard is the herb garden where various herbs and vegetables were grown. At the bottom are two rectangular ponds. In the 18th century it was common to make special ponds for breeding carp.

A long slumber began for the old mine-owner’s estate after the Nauclér family left Staberg in 1820. A large new manor house, Nya “New” Staberg was built in 1840s, south of the garden. The garden was still maintained, however. The old carp ponds were now made semicircular so that they could reflect the new manor house. After many years of decay, the buildings of Gamla “Old” Staberg were restored by Vika-Hosjö Local History Society in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1965 the estate was listed as a historic building.

The Garden, which is administered and maintained jointly by the Vika-Hosjö Local History Society and the owners of Nya Staberg, Lotta and Ivan Örtendahl, is open to visitors, both individually and in groups. A stroll around Gamla Staberg can start from the red houses of the main court, with the dwelling house in the middle. The east wing now contains a small history museum. In the little building to the north there is an 18th century privy that is worth seeing. If you continue to the north you can see the stone walls that enclosed the middle court and the animal yard. The central axis continues with a road up to the hill north of the estate. A cobbled ramp and a cellar pit mark the northern limit of the estate.

The orchard spreads out in four terraces south of the dwelling house. Growing in eight square on the terraces are about sixty old Swedish varieties of fruit trees. Some varieties peculiar to Dalarna, such as Gubbäpple and Sniläpple, survive here.

The kitchen garden or herb garden comes next. It was laid out according to the 18th century model, with long, narrow raised beds. Cabbage and other kitchen plants common in the 18th century are grown here. Some hop-poles west of the kitchen garden probably survive from the hop-gardens that Staberg had in 1753.

The two ponds today form a round water mirror, but in the 18th century they may have been rectangular. They provided the estate with carp. You get a good overall view of the estate from the slope up towards Nya Staberg.