Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Swedish ruins

Ruins are rare these days in Sweden. I don't mean Medieval ones: they're common, well tended and pretty much inert. What I mean is active, decaying ruins, the kind that look bad and get worse for every year that passes. Eyesore ruins, dangerous to visit.

Swedes are neat freaks: we take care of things like that fast, thank you very much. My British friend Howard, on a cycling trip in rural Sweden a few years back, once remarked that in this country, even inhabited farmsteads look ghostly and/or fascistic to an Englishman: extremely clean and well-kept, almost empty, no car wrecks or defunct washing machines in the yards.

This lack of familiarity with decay is actually a bit of a handicap to an archaeologist. You know what well-kept buildings look like, and you know what ruins open to tourists look like, but you really have very little understanding of how one turns into the other. This makes site formation processes (wooo, trade jargon) hard to visualise.

But we do have real ruins, modern houses and factories abandoned and left to rot in places where few notice them. And there are those who like to explore them. One is the secretive Rutger, a highly skilled photographer who runs a beautiful web site. The domain name tells it all: www.swedishruins.nu

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