On a cape in Lake Husgärdessjön are the remains of the medieval national castle Axevalla hus. Today there is almost nothing left of the castle and although this was once considered to have been one of Sweden’s strongest strongholds, we know relatively little about its history. The castle has, for example, never been excavated.
At axevallahus.se we compile what we have been able to find about the castle and its history in various sources. Here are details about the castle’s history, what the castle may have looked like and a lot of information about the people who appear in its history. Here and there are also in-depth information about other interesting places in the vicinity of the castle and maps of interesting places.
Where was Axevalla’s hus
The ruin after Axevalla hus is located at the edge of Axevalla moor on a cape in Lake Husgärdessjön approximately in the middle between the towns of Skara and Skövde. The area in which the castle is located is called Valle after Valle district and the nearest villages today are Axvall and Varnhem.
Axevalla hus – Axevalla hus is located between Lake Vänern and Lake Vättern. About a mile from Skara which was a town already in the Middle Ages. Click on the image and it will open in a larger window.
The area in which the castle is located has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Exceptional tombs from the Stone Age and fossil arable land areas from the Iron Age have been found on the adjacent moor ”Axevalla hed”. People were able to settle down in the area thanks to a rich supply of hunting and fishing and eventually also fertile agricultural land. The many lakes in the area are remnants of the thick ice cap which had covered the area more than 10000 years ago, and these were much larger and more cohesive once upon a time.
The prosperity led to that large villages and even cities could grow in the area.
THE VIKING AGE
A growing population requires some form of protection against enemies and there may have been a fortified family farm that developed into a castle here already during the Viking Age. In the absence of reliable sources, one has to rely on legends about the castle’s early history. One of these tells the story of a Viking queen named Sigrid Storråda who lived at Axevalla house.
During excavations in Varnhem a few kilometers away, Sweden’s oldest church has been found and it has been possible to confirm that Christian Vikings lived here in the area as early as the 10th century. We also know that the area was of great importance during the Middle Ages. Skara, which is about a mile away, is one of Sweden’s oldest cities (more than 1,000 years old) and Sweden’s first episcopal seat.
THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE AXEVALLA HUS OF THE KINGDOM POWER
Around the Middle Ages, more and more reliable sources begin to emerge that give us clues about the history of Axevalla Hus. During the 13th century, Sweden went from consisting of small chiefdoms to becoming a real kingdom. Axevalla Hus soon became one of the royal castles. Such a castle was used by the king when he and his entourage were in the area. The castle was also the site of the bailiff, the king’s envoy, who was responsible for collecting taxes.
Axevalla Bailiff is said to have been known for its hard bailiffs who made life difficult for the area’s farmers. Axevalla hus is located in Valle district (which also had to give its name to Valle Camping) but during the castle’s heyday, a much larger part of the area was included in the castle and the bailiff’s jurisdiction. During parts of the 14th century, the jurisdiction included the whole of Västergötland and Värmland.
Axevalla Hus also had an important role from a defense point of view as it was located along one of the most important roads from Götaland to Svealand. At the end of the 13th century, Axevalla Hus was probably the kingdom’s foremost and strongest fortification.
Axevalla Hus is on fire
The castle had an important role as a defense and bailiff until the 15th century. Several times during history, the castle was besieged and several times it also seems to have been ravaged by fire over the years.
Around the middle of the 15th century, however, the farmers around Axevalla house are said to have managed to burn down the castle completely. They must have got tired of the bailiff and rebelled.
It is not entirely certain how the fatal fire arose, but sometime around 1469 the castle collapsed and was never rebuilt. This is the end of Axevalla house, which at this time had played its role as a fortification and bailiff.
Ruins became building material
After the fatal fire, the castle served as a stone quarry. In the work Suecia antiqua et hodierna, which was published in the early 18th century, the castle ruins of Axevalla’s houses are depicted.
Although the picture does not completely align with what the castle really looked like, it is the only sketch that is preserved and can provide clues to what it once may have looked like. At the end of the 18th century, almost all the remaining limestone was used to renovate the church in Skärv.
Suecia antiqua et hodierna – In the work Suecia antiqua et hodierna, which was published in the early 18th century, the castle ruins of Axevalla’s houses are depicted.
Pole barrier from the 13th century
It has now been more than 500 years since the castle was burned down and several hundred years since the ruin was looted on its stones and there are not many traces of Axevalla hus left today. Apart from moats and some limestones, there is not much to see on the cape where the castle once stood.
When the lake is shiny, however, you can still see traces of the castle’s fortifications, which are dated to 1288. The calcareous lake has preserved parts of the palisade of oak logs that prevented attacks from the sea side.
The palisade – The palisade once surrounded the entire cape and protected the castle against intruders who came by sea. The pile barrier is dated to 1288.
Despite a number of attempts to raise money and a few smaller initiatives, the bail has never been excavated and properly explored. In the high ramparts, therefore, there can still be an exciting story about the castle and its inhabitants.
The ruins after Axevalla hus – Today there are not many traces left of the national castle Axevalla hus. On the cape in Husgärdessjön you can walk around among the ramparts that once formed the castle’s moats and foundation for the masonry.