Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kongsvinger Fortress

Kongsvinger Fortress.

 Kongsvinger is an ideal first stop for a road trip after landing in Oslo. Drive inland, and north. Save fjords for later.

The ancient Kongsvinger site looks over the Glama River valley, with Sweden close on the other side. The Norwegian side, whether or not formal boundaries among Nordic groups emerged then or later, needed defenses.

Who was in charge when?  Reconciling dates of early kings with activity at Kongsvinger is difficult. The museum at Kongsvinger cites Harald the Hard, Harald Hardrada, Harald the Hard Ruler, with tumult in the late 800's, according to a medieval recorder of histories, Snorre Sturlassen, see 

Harald Hardrada, however, is cited eas the same as Haraldr Siguroarson who ruled in 1046-1066 as Harald III, see  Keep the Haralds straight as delving continues in Scandinavian history.  There are many.  Our American schooling ignored Scandinavia except to gloat about "Christian" militants taking over, as though there was no worth to what there was before  Ignore the dogmatic clerical sirens.

By the seventeenth century, Swedish-side incursions had increased; and with the assistace of Scots mercenaries, and even nobles in search of vaster influence. See Kvam and Otta sites here.

The clearly newer structures here were built beginning 1658, 1718, as defense against the Swedes and their Scots allies.

Favorites:  In any fortress, watch for the doors, including this mystery door that we called the bad baby room.  That silly concept began a trips-long series of self-entertainment, read nonsense activities, that convulse close-quarters travelers with any sens,  any time we found little places. There are no bad babies!  Then why all these little structures, and doors to who knows where, hehehehe.

Kongsvinger Fortress, bad baby room.

Upon closer inspection of the Norwegian information about this little door in the wall at an apparently officers' quarters,we concluded that the bad babies must have been kept elsewhere. This was the hunderie, the place of the hounds, the doggies for the hunts in whatever Norwegian Wood.

Fortress doors. See the clever littler door for one, when one dare not ope the big one. Knock knock.

The chevon pattern is common in European castle and fortress architecture and design. The zig-zag. 

The zig-zag chevron pattern is easily described, less easily traced.  It perhaps relates to the diagonal strength of the wood, stronger than a mere horizontal or vertical.  Buttress the other side, and nobody gets in quite as easily.

 Lowe's and Better Homes and Gardens have roundly adopted it lately as the latest Thing.  Do a search for chevon patterns.  There.  You have it. Chevron origins are in foggy history.  Some trace it specifically to the military, where chevrons appear on shoulders and other uniform places to designate rank.

Imps and trolls.  Be not lured by Hollywood's Ring Cycle Trolls, so ugly and gross.  The wooden troll carved out of tree trunks with knots and gnarls may be traditional, but so is the more elegant, alluring dancing troll, or imp.  Locksmiths used them to advantage.  We understand there was an ironworker at Kongsvinger who specialized in creating silhouette imps and trolls.  This is also seen in Denmark, see the Roskilde entry at Denmark Road Ways, for the elaborate trollwork there in the Cathedral, resting place of an ancient family. 

Passageways at Kongsvinger.  Imagine who passed through. Why.  Why is there tie series of meat-hook structures anchored to the top archway? What was hung there?  Don't ask. 

Or were they only for torch-lamps? And the little door there to the right.  Where does it lead?  Surely, not for a guard because a guardhouse would have a sliding window to see who's there.

With all the history and architectural questions, go back outside and enjoy the Norwegian flag flying high over old ramparts, with Sweden, disgruntled and denied, just beyond.  This fortress also served in WWII as a haven for good guys passing between neutral ha-ha Sweden and valiently opposing but occupied Norway.  Judge not.  Sweden knew if it denied Germany its munitions and resources, it would be bombed.  What to do?

Keep asking.  In American politics today, who or which groups are our Quisling? Saving own hides at what expense?

Keep asking.

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