The water mills below Djurforsen


Just below Djurfors, a stream flows into the Västerdal River – Kvarnbäcken (lit. “Mil stream”). Along this stream there lies an old, small so called skvaltkarn (a form of water mill), that was used in the past to mill grain for flour. Also located nearby is an old buildning and ruins of other buildings.

The buildings have been restored and have been – among other things – retrofitted with a sheet metal roof, but on the inside the old style is retained. Bring a flashlight – it is very dark on the inside! It is fascinating to read the old names on the walls, and study the line which have been drawn on the outside to mark the water level.

Further up along the stream there are the ruins of an older building. By the shoreline on can also find traces of the old country road that once went through here.

The area surrounding the stream and the old buildings is called Kvarnholn (lit. “Mill hill”). The hol (“hill”) is at present a part of the gravel pit. When the villages roads where namned, Kvarnholn was placed closest to the field that faces Åkerängsta, but there are no historical connections between the name and the place. The area was previously  called Kvartutn. This is what Erik Forslund wrote about Kvarnholn:

Kvarnholn is situated just below Djurforsen on its east side. Holen (translator: “the hill”) has during 1900s, in large part, been exploited for building materias (gravel and sand). The name Kvarnholn is due to its location right next to a couple of water mills below Djurforsen, where a stream runs into the Västerdal river. There has also been a damn, which supplied the water mills with sufficient operating power.

A special feature of Kvarnbäcken are the slagstones deposited therein. Dark blue, light blue and green stone bear witness to the enterprise which took place here before the time of the mills; slagstones are byproducts of iron production. Iron foundries have been active in the area.

The following can read about the iron foundries on the Forest Board’s webpage (click here to read the whole document [in Swedish])

During the middle ages the iron ore production was tranformed from bog- and sea ore to mountain ore. The production of metal then took on a industrial character. To extract metals out of mountain ore foundries were created. These used water for power and therefore we find remains of foundries along streams. Around some foundries village sprung up while other foundries became larger settlements. I Dalarna there are records of over 400 foundry locations, primarily in the central and southern parts. Many where abandoned as early as the 1600s.

The area is in Fornsök, which is a database maintained by the National Heritage Board. The foundry ares is considered to have been founded at the earliest in 1520.  Read more about the historic site here (in Swedish).

Fornsök is by the way an amazing service. Try it out yourself by clicking here (in Swedish). There are several old treasures in Bodarna alone and a remarkable number in the surrounding villages.