Korset i Röjden. Foto Håkan Röjder

Haunted sites in Värmland

You will have certainly heard stories that send chills down the spine and make your blood freeze. Thousands of reasonable people venture out into the country to seek the truth in the inexplicable and Värmland seems to have its fair share of invisible spirits, ghosts and other beings. A new concept has now been established within the Swedish tourism industry: ghost tourism.

It is not only during All Saint’s Day and Halloween that ghosts appear in Värmland. Haunted estates, hotels and old graves in Värmland are visited by tourists who are interested in and fascinated by occult phenomena year round. 

Plenty of ghosts in Värmland

The map of Värmland is rich in hauntings and there are many places that are reputed to be haunted. Some of these places are also well-visited tourists attractions. Thomas Blom, Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Karlstad, explains that we are titillated by what is a bit scary. Just as with films, TV series and crime fiction, we are curious about the exciting and the unknown.

It is not enough that a phenomena is difficult to explain, there also has to be a story behind the phenomena in order for it to attract tourists to visit the site. There need to be historic connection with the past with which to relate and the guest needs to understand why it is said that spirits and other beings such as ghosts are present. Otherwise perhaps the hauntings map would get cluttered as all old houses are haunted....?

Nor should the site be too remote or predictable and the visitor needs to feel that it is a bit unique and has its own mark of the phenomena.

We mainly find rectories, manor houses and estates on the Värmland map of ghosts and haunted houses. Most of the souls who have not passed on are believed to be from the eighteenth century and there do not seem to be many wandering souls from the recently departed or from people who died a very long time ago , even though there do exist legends of ghosts from both the fifteenth century and from the Viking Age.

Thomas Blom believes that this is because we need to recognise ourselves and to have something to relate to in order to get the most out of the experience. There is often a portrait of the reputed ghost, certificates and documents that show that the person did actually live there and that this can in some way explain the events and energies that are experienced.

Curious to be terrified

People like to feel fear and be terrified, but the fact that not all visitors may experience and witness a ghost does not seem to concern the visitors and be the decisive factor, as sometimes it is the search that represents the excitement and is perhaps even preferable.  The visitors want to take part, to know and to crate their own images and fantasies.

The two best known and most visited phenomena today are Frammegården and the corse at Röjden. The cross at Röjden is a place where you find a two metre high cross in the ground where nothing has grown since the 1850s and legend has it that this is because of supernatural forces and witchcraft. Some of towns and villages in Värmland also arrange various ghost walks, sometimes in haunted places, sometimes with fictional destinies and themes.  But who knows, you can never be entirely sure that a real wandering soul hasn’t crept in to scare the visitors...

1. Apertins herrgård in Kil

Several powerful widows have been in charge at Apertins herrgård and some believe that they are still in charge. One of them was Princess Sara Cajsa Löwenhielm. She is said to have danced herself to death with the Devil, straight through the floor and left behind a bloodstain that cannot be washed away. It is also said that Countess Charlotta von Hjerten is unable to rest in her grave and still checks the silver in a box in Riddarsalen.

2. Down in Rikenberget

The haunted site ”Därner” (Down There) is located about a kilometres north of the country house Rikkenberget. Rumour has it that the hauntings continued for several weeks in the spring of 1920 or 1921. Today the foundations are all that remains of “Därner”, which was inhabited until the 1960s.

3. Dömle herrgård

It is unclear who is doing the haunting here but strange sounds have been heard and some of the rooms has creaking wardrobe doors that open by themselves

4. Elite Stadshotellet in Karlstad

5. Frammegården in Skillingmark

One of the better know places for ghost tourism that attracts thousands to stay the night in the country house. Most people are interested in paranormal activity have heard of Frammegården after the Youtube pair Jocke and Jonna spent the night there. The site is believed to have been a place of execution for witches, two children are said to have died locked in the attic and in the so-called “corpse room” there was a deathbed where many drew their last breath and  fell asleep.

Read more about the haunted house Frammegården.

6. Grums country house

At Grums country house a number of people have heard heavy footsteps on the stairs on different occasions and have had a sensation of death but it is not known who has risen again. 

7. Hagfors Brukshotell

The ghost Elsa’s shoes stand undisturbed in the attic. Elsa who is otherwise fairly unknown sometimes sweeps through the hotel and slams doors.

8. Hammars Gård in Väse

Hammars Gård has spirits from the thirteenth century and is one of only a handful of houses in Värmland that was constructed from stone, but was given its current appearance in the 1760s. Sophia Lowisa Soop is said to haunt here. She owned the house in the eighteenth century and has been described as a "Devil of a woman”. Her notorious wild parties where she drank and fought like a man gave the estate a bad reputation. During a fight in the market in Kristinehamn she was kicked in the leg, which she lost, and another time she lost an eye. Despite an extra heavy stone slab being placed over her grave in Väse Church, she still frightens the visitors o the house with her scarred, one-legged and one-eyed spirit.

9. Hotell Bilan in Karlstad

Hotell Bilan opened in 1985 after a renovation, but the building bears a long history. Between 1847 and 1968 Bilan was a prison. Both guests and staff can attest to the fact that the hotel is haunted and that inexplicable phenomena takes place in the building. These include noises coming from upstairs at night and when the room was examined it was shown that nobody had either stayed or been there during the night. One of the prisoners of the prison, the Priest of Sillbodal the Reverend Anders Lindbäck, is said to be one of the most famous ghosts. He was sentenced to death by beheading by poisoning old people who he considered to be a burden on society by putting arsenic in communion wine. His crime was discovered after the family of one of his victims, Anders Lysén, requested an exhumation and an autopsy of Lysén’s remains. Anders Lindbäck stated that he committed the murder out of mercy and he committed suicide before the execution was carried out by hanging himself in his cell with a sheet on 25 November 1865.

10. The Cross at Röjden

In the small town of Röjden, along the highway between Bjurberget and Falltorp just before the border with Norway, there is a cross in the ground where nothing has grown for 150 years.

There are a number of theories about the occurrence of the cross at Röjden, or the cross at Mikkola as it is also sometimes called: A pall bearer on his way to the church through the woods lost the energy to continue and buried the body there and then continued with the empty coffin. Another legend is that this is an unmarked grave or that  Forest Finns skilled in sorcery are behind the phenomena.

11. Mårbacka in Sunne

Ghost walks are held here for the general public every year but it is a bit unclear who is doing the haunting. A medium who visited Mårbacka was able to give an account of the meetings with both Mr. Lagerlöf and his housekeeper Ellen Lundgren.  Can there be any connection to the old general who haunts the Löwensköldska ring? Or is it Semla Lagerlöf herself who has risen again and who keeps an eye on her possessions? Selma knew that elemental beings and little people existed and often wrote about them in her books.  

12. Sara's grave

According to legend, Sara’s grave in Mangskog, Jösse judicial district, relates to an unmarried girl from the area who became pregnant and was sentenced to death because she was believed to have brought her stillborn child back to life. She was executed by being placed in a spiked barrel that was then rolled down a hillside on the eastern shore of Mangen and the buried in unconsecrated ground at the spot where the barrel stopped. Every year on 19 July a ceremony for Sara is held at the site and Göran Bryntesson has written a song in memory of Sara. The vegetation is barren and horses have felt ill at ease. Many cyclists have had punctures at Sara’s grave site.

13. The castle at Forshaga

The castle is a former managing director’s house that was opened in 1882. Forshaga Castle later became the youth hostel in Forshaga and today is owned by the Municipality of Forshaga and is enjoyed for different purposes, mainly fo meetings and conferences. It was also a youth hostel operated by the Swedish Tourist Board for a few years. Here you will be met by a pleasant female ghost who turn the lights on and off and who wanders around the gravel paths and the tower room. The phantom is said to be an unknown maiden who hanged herself in the castle.

14. Stjärnfors Station

Who haunts the old railway station atStjärnsfors? At the old Stjärnsfors works you can even have a guided tour with interesting stories and details about Geijer, workers and much more besides. An account of family feuds, the patrons’ “Finnish wars” and Geijer’s 150 year old family company, etc. is given during the walk.

“Long before it became a station house the building was leased by the miller. During the 1870s the miller’s sister-in-law, who was called Ryss-Kjersti, lived in the attic. She was the wise woman of the local area and used sorcery to help people who were sick”, explains Ulf Hedenäs who previously rented rooms at Stjärnfors station. 

15. Svaneholms herrgård

At Svaneholms herrgård in Svanskog there are ghosts in both male and female form and if you dare you can spend the night in the manor house. Sofie Uggla is said to wander as an unblessed spirit. She was married but was betrayed immediately after the wedding and died or sorry at an early age. The account diverge and it is unclear whether she died in childbirth or starved to death on the outer staircase.

Emelie Uggla, a terribly mean woman who neither paid wages nor money for the maintenance of the house, is said to haunt the site.

A round, corpulent woman who has also been seen to disappear through the kitchen door for no explicable reason.  On another occasion a man in a suit was seen to walk around according to a witness in the dining room while another witness saw the same man go into the kitchen at the same time.  But even though he could not disappear anywhere, he was gone when they looked for him. In more recent times strange things have occurred such as equipment starting during the night, video documentation has become tangled whilst playing, water has dripped from the ceiling for no explicable reason and somebody has stood in the path of the former owner.

16. Uddeholms herrgård 

It is said that one of Sweden’s first female business leaders, Lovisa Sofia Tranea, haunts this place. She is a pleasant ghost who does things like moving pictures around and keeping an eye on the house, which is not open to the public.

17. Von Echstedska gården

Close to Kila in Västra Smedbyn is the von Echstedt estate, which is today open as a museum. The house has at least two known ghosts: an unfortunate maid who killed her fiance by mistake and then went mad and a male servant dressed up as a ghost who in terror was killed and buried under the bed in the atrium during the eighteenth century. The spirit of Bengt von Echstedt is also said to wander the site. It could be that the male servant was cleared out of the way as a result of some underhand dealings between the servant and Bengt after being murdered in cold blood with three gunshots and then buried under his wife’s bed in the atrium.  The stains on the wooden floor of the servant’s blood are fully visible even to this day and a number of witnesses have heard gunshots over the years.  Another story is that when Bengt von Echstedt dies all of the doors in the building open wide and a pair of black horses tethered in front of a black carriage appear on the courtyard to then disappear into thin air. The area around Kila also has an unusually large number of farms.

18. Velgunaho

At the old “Finnish Farm” Velgunaho in Röjden there lived an old man, a blind old woman and a servant girl when the hauntings began in the spring of 1901.  Everything began quite harmlessly with cows being let out of the cow shed. Things escalated and dead dead things came to life, household utensils were moved, porcelain was broken and vessels were knocked over and benches secured to walls inexplicably flew up towards the ceiling.

The science of the past was used to study the phenomena and all possible methods were employed to put an end to the hauntings: prayers, rites, firing shots and incantations. The hanutings did not cease until the house was demolished and relocated.

Nitaho-Jussi once walked up towards Velgunaho with a band of people. He asked them to be quiet so as not to disturb “the little grey things”. But this was like a red rag to a bull and it was said that his house burned down at the very same instant.

A bus full of tourists on its way from Röjden broke down and was unable to continue before one of the travellers returned a stone that he had picked up from the haunted site. 

A sick and blind woman lived in the farm by the name of Marit who was able to predict when the violent forces would be unleashed and said:

“The little green things have risen!

Read more about aubout the hauntings at Velgunaho (swedish)

19. Östervik Chapel

People have felt an unknown presence when they have been in the cellar and dogs have refused to enter the chapel.

20. Ulleberg Psychiatric Hospital in Karlstad 

 

A few minutes by cycle from central Karlstad lies Ulleberg. Ulleberg Psychiatric Hospital was the first in Sweden to introduce forced sterilisation. When the hospital closed, a special needs school was operated from the premises for a period of time and then the premises stood empty with dilapidation and vandalisation as a result. It is said that ghosts have frequented the site but today the abandoned psychiatric hospital has been converted into modern residential accommodation.

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