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Category  10 -  Olaus Magnus - History of the Nordic Peoples (from 1555) - Illustrations with comments - Page 2

Illustrationer med förklaringar till Olaus Magnus "Historia om de nordiska folken" (utgiven år 1555)


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Book 1, Ch. 32. On Clocks.

The woodcut shows two clocks with works and faces. The clock-face to the left has Arabic numerals, the other numerals of Latin type. At bottom (in the middle) is a sundial formed as a semicircle. The text numerals of runes. 1300 x 600 px.

Book 1, Ch. 33. On Time Measurement with Shadows.

In the north the sun never rise high above the horizon. In many places you can see the sun just over mountain tops at fixed times every day. The woodcut illustrates this simple way to measure the time.
 1300 x 600 px.
Book 1, Ch. 34. On Rune Staffs.

This woodcut shows a father teach
es  his son and a mother teaches her daughter how to use and read rune staffs.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 1, Ch. 35. On the Signification of Thunderstorms for Every Specific Month.
The round ribbon in the middle symbolizes the year. We recognize the months (A = April, M = May, I = June etc.). The winter months give much snow and a little of thunderstorms. The summer months give rain and
much thunder. At bottom two wise men with rune staffs.
1300 x 600 px.
 Book 1, Ch. 36. The Alphabet of the Geats. 

Olaus Magnus shows here the rune alphabet used in Sweden of the Geats and also of the Swedes. The author uses the designation “Alphabetum Gothicum”.
1300 x 600 px.
Large size - high resolution
Book 2, Ch. 1. On Burning Water.

The woodcut shows a landscape from Iceland. To the left a lake “burning of fire and sulphur” and to the right a volcano.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 2. On Strange Properties of Some Mountains.

We see three volcanoes in Iceland: Hekla, Kreusberg (?) and Helgafjell.
Below three hot sources.
1300 x 600 px
Book 2, Ch. 3. On Visions of Shadows of Drowned Men.

To the left a depiction of the Cathedral of Skalholt with gravestones below. To the right shadows of five drowned men. To the extreme right a wrecked ship with two drowning men in the sea.
About. 1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 4. On Frightening Sounds from Shore Caverns.
We see the mountain Skuluberget in the northern Swedish province Ångermanland. Skuluberget lies at the Höga Kusten (High Coast) area, placed at
UNESCO's World Heritage List. In reality the mountain is only 294 m high, but Olaus Magnus writes that the top is covered with snow the whole year. The woodcut shows it as reaching over the clouds. In the shoreline there are rifts in the rock causing terrible noises. 1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 5. On a Rock, Namned the Sea Monk.

The woodcut shows a rock in shape of a monk’s frock which is situated
in the sea south of the main part of the Faeroe Islands. The Sea Monk (in Danish “Munken”) has a safe harbour. To the right we see a wrecked ship. At the island above a raven.  1300 x 600 px.

Book 2, Ch. 6. On the Crowned Cliff and the Richness of Fish Near it .

To the left is the cliff
of Bjuröklubb, the most eastern part of the province of Västerbotten. Olaus Magnus des
cribed the top of the cliff seen from distance as a crown with three points. Around the cliff are flat rocks where fish are dried, which also is seen on the woodcut. Six seals surround a small island. 1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 7. On the Maelstrom and the Tides of the Ocean.

The dangerous Maelstrom is according to Olaus Magnus located between the islands of Röst and Lofoten at the Norwegian coast. Note that Röst in reality is situated south of Lofoten.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 8. On Whirlpools and the Remarkable Nature of Ice.

The woodcut shows Iceland surrounded by drift ice. Sounds are heard from the ground when the ice break against the sharp rocks at the coast.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 10. On Ships Wrecked at the Coasts of Greenland.

We see
a shipwreck outside the coast of Greenland. On shore there are two houses built of whale bones.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 11A. On the dwarfs of Greenland and the rock of Hvitsark.

On south Greenland we see a dwarf fight with a normal man. At top a whale bone house. To the right the rock Hvits
ark which according to Olaus Magnus lies in the Denmark sound between Greenland and Iceland. On this rock a compass rose is carved in the stone with lines and circles filled with lead.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 11B. More on the same subject (Greenland).

At top two cranes with candles in their beaks illustrating an old Swedish locution (tranan bär ljus i säng). The rest of the woodcut illustrates the old tale of the dwarfs of Greenland and their constant fights against hordes of cranes
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 12. On the Vast Depths of the Norwegian Coasts.

To the left we see a ship approaching the coast. A sailor is sounding the depth. The anchor is hanging ready at the bow. To the right a man is standing on the shore, also sounding the depth with a line provided with a large lead weight.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 13. On Harbours Provided with Iron Rings

The woodcut illustrates the approach to Bergen. The cathedral is seen to the right. A lot of the rocks are fitted with mooring rings of iron.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 14. On the Hazardous Passage over the Mountains Skars and Sula between Norway and Sweden.

To the left four men armed with crossbows. Two travellers are seen in this wild country. The one in the middle leads a packhorse, the one to the right rides
a horse. Note that they travel unarmed. A reindeer and a bird are seen among the high mountains (fjell
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 15. On Statues in the Snowy Mountains.

We see the pilgrim route between  Nidaros (Trondheim) in Norway and Jämtland in Sweden. High stone statues, donated by ancient pious Norwegian kings, are raised along the route. At bottom left a monk. In the middle a man armed with a sword and spear leads a packhorse. To the right a man, probably a Lap, on skis and with bow and arrow.
. 1300 x 600 px.

Book 2, Ch. 16.On Journeys during  the Darkness.

Glow-worms are flying around the trees in the darkness. Torches of decayed oak bark are placed along the route. A man with an axe and a crossbow travels along the way. At bottom left a river with a rowing boat and a fisherman
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 17. About Lighting and Torches of Kindling.

A man and a woman carry torches in their mouths in order to have both hands free. The man seems to come from an outside pantry with a can of beer and a basket with food. The woman is spinning with a distaff. She carries spare torches in her belt. A dog is sleeping in the background. 
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 18. On the Flooding of Streams.

The woodcut shows the two Swedish rivers Indalsälven (top) and Ljungan (below). It is spring and the annual flood from the melting snow in the mountains destroys houses and trees. Even a church is hit.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 19. On Three Famous Lakes in Götaland.

Olaus Magnus shows us a chart with the Swedish lakes Vänern, Vättern and Mälaren. At Vättern (Veter) we can see the monastery of Vadstena. Vänern (Vener) has its outlet to the left via river Göta Älv. Symbols for iron- copper- and silver mines can be seen above Mälaren (Meler). The castle at the bottom right  symbolizes Stockholm. The chart is drawn with north-west upwards.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 20. On Rocky Caves as Treacherous Haunts.

The lake is Vänern. To the left Trollhättan with its large and noisy waterfalls. The church with one tower represents the town of Lidköping, while the church with two towers is the cathedral of Skara. Two robbers with crossbows leaves their cave in order to attack two unarmed civil horse riders. To the right a soldier with a lance.
  1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 21. On the Ancient, Glorious Royal Castle of Årnäs (Aranäs) in Västergötland.

The castle of Årnäs (in earlier days Aranäs) is today only a ruin, located on the south shore of Lake Vänern. On the woodcut we see it in old days. The main gate at the front is the only existing entrance to the land side. To the left the swamps on the south side of the castle. At the water side, the castle is surrounded by wooden bars, held together with chains. 1300 x 600 px

Book 2, Ch. 23. On the Island of Öland in Götaland, it’s Beauty and its Fertility.

The woodcut shows Öland
. The southern part is to left in the picture and the north to the right. We see how the island is built up of layers of limestone. The castle on  Öland is Borgholm. The mainland is a part of Småland. Two crossbows are seen. The arms of this province consist of a lion carrying a crossbow. The castles are to the left is Kalmar, to the right Stäkeholm. The crowned rock is“Blå jungfrun” (“the Blue Virgin”). This cliff was believed to be a place where witches had meetings with the devil. 1300 x 600 px
Book 2, Ch. 24. On the Renowned Geatish Island of Gotland.

Gotland in the Baltic Sea is shown from the east. The castle to the right represents the old Hanseatic town of Visby with is ring-wall. 1300 x 600 px

Book 2, Ch. 25. On Royal Coat of Arms Cut in the Rocks at Hangö.

In the middle the harbour of Hangö on the south coast of Finland. The castle to left is the old bishop’s residence at Kustö. The coat of arms from left: Sture, Roos, Tott, Gyllenstjerna, Svealand, Götaland, Vasa, Natt och Dag and Läma.  1300 x 600 px

Book 2, Ch. 26. On Crystals and Magnets. 

Snow falls down from the clouds. The sound waves from the mountains illustrate magnetic phenomena in the ground. Nine barrels are seen to the left, unknown why. To the right a lake (or the open sea) with ice floes.

 1300 x 600 px


Olaus Magnus "Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus" (History of the Nordic Peoples), published in Rome 1555.

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© 2007 Lars Henriksson

Updated: 2013-02-09