Rävholn – the fox hill

Text: Erik Forslund
Translation: Anders Benke
Photo: Dan Forslund

Rävholn is situated about 200 meters southwest of the Västerdal- and Österdal- rivers’ union. By “hol” we mean an elevated region or hill of varying size. Within the Gagnef municipality there are, for example, Andershol, Gärdsholn in northern Gagnef, Nordanholen in Mockfjärd and in our village – Bodarna – another hol: Kvarnholn. The latter is situated just below Djurforsen on its eastern side. As for the name of Rävholn, it simply means “Fox hill” or something like that in Swedish, hinting at the historical and present presence of, well, foxes.

I myself got to experience Rävholn as an eight year old boy, and participated in the clearing of the hol (by scything). This was in 1931, when self sufficiency was the norm for farmers. In that time the landscape was kept open and the undergrowth that has overrun the present day landscape was unthinkable.

During the work, the participants talked about the hol being a grave mound. Legend has it that a battle took place here during the late viking era and fallen warriors are buried in the hill. As an eight year old boy I fantasized a while about these stories, but quickly forgot them and instead set my mind on more concrete interests.

As far as I myself know there are no written records about the battle. The story – or legend – has probably been passed on orally through generations. This article, then, was written with the purpose of preserving the story / legend for future generations, for already there is a great risk of it fading away from people’s minds.

Today, the Rävholn is overgrown and shown little, if any interest. The hill or hole is a relatively symmetrical triangle, each side about 35 meters long with a broader base facing the river, with a height of about eight meters. If the hill is a fluke of nature, it is proof of precision and symmetry within creation over which man has no control. At the same time, the legend cannot be dismissed as being created out of thin air. Looking from a broader perspective, one realizes that our rivers were important transport routes, which would make the unions of the rivers an equally important hub. There is room for the imagination at this place.