The kitchen hut


The »kitchen hut» köksskålen, is intended for
the making of cheese and butter. It is shaped like a cone
and erected of numerous round poles around a skeleton of
some twelve special main poles, the tops of which are
bound together by an osier4ie. The lowest third of the
hut is externally covered with spruce*bark, the rest being
uncovered so as to allow the smoke from the fireplace to
escape. The latter, which is situated in the centre of the
hut, is nearly square and enclosed on three sides by a row
of low stones. The pan in which the milk is cooked hangs
on a notched »pole», suspended above the hearth. The
round shape of the kitchen*hut is noticeable; either we have
therein a survival of a method of construction which in this
country preceded the architecture of the rectangular house,
or we can discern the influence of Finnish immigrants in
whose native country such huts are still common.

The drove extends along one side of the enclosure ; and
it is bordered on the other side by the cattle-pen in which
the cow-house fdhuset is situated. The cows are milked in®
the pen in the mornings and evenings.

The resemblance of the somerset to an old Norse 1 farmer’s
home in its simplest form, such as is known by the de*
scriptions in the Icelandic sagas, is to apparent and of too
great interest to be omitted here. The more important build*
ings lay dispersed within the enclosed courtyard even in
the old Norse farmer’s house, and each of them was made
for its own particular purpose and had only a single room.
There were three buildings at least: the living*house, the
cookinghouse, and the storehouse.

The living house, inwhich the family lodged and slept,
in its whole plan and construction resembled the fire house,
stårriset, in the somerset.

In the middle of the floor lay the open hearth,
from which the smoke escaped through a hole in the roof,
which was the only window in the room. Fixed benches,
which were used at night for sleeping^places, ran along
the walls. There was an open entrance^flor, svale, outside
the doorway in one gable*end. The living house was cer-
tainly also used in part for the cooking in smaller farm*
yards. The cooking^house was intended for baking, brewing,
cheese*making, and the like. The storehouse, buren, was
the farmer’s larder. Outside the real building site lay the
outhouses; the stables and the barns. By evolution and
combination of those primitive buildings the peasant’s houses,
which are still peculiar to different parts of our country,
have since arisen.

This building previously stood in the somerset of Hjarpesbodar on
Solleron in Dalecarlia and was given by Mr Oskar Schollin to Skansen
where it was rejected in the spring of 1905.There was originally on an
old Norse farmer’s premises a hearth in only one of the buildings which
hence acquired

The name fire house often met with in old English documents is
analogous to the old Norse eld*hus. In an English vocabulary of the
eleventh century it is called »fyr4ius», a form of word that might just
as well be used in Swedish. Fyr is still in many places in this country
used in the sense of fire. In historic times in England the name of
fireshouse was often used to signify the central part of the dwelling*
house and was then synonymous with the »hall», the »house part» or
»house place», forms which we shall later have occassion to refer to
the name of the »fire house».

The latter was used then both as family*room and kitchen.
In later times, when people began to erect more elaborate
dwelling-houses, the fire*house would have to remain on its
site as a cooking house, and was used for the coarser dressing of
food as baking, brewing, and cheese*making, retaining its old name
in many places.

Notwithstanding the difference between the fire*house described here
and the old English »hall» or »house*place», we take the liberty of
using a translation, which no doubt corresponds to the original
meaning of the English word.

»0ld Norse » is here and subsequently used in its widest senee
expressing what was anciently commonly found in the Scandinavian
countries. The somersets in many points reflect an exceedingly
old-fashioned arrangement of building, and the word eldhus,
or j eld’ us (fire*house) is still used as a name for the living.

Text from Guide to Skansen by Axel Nilsson 1911. Public domain.
Image from Skansen. Public domain.

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