This is the interior of Torsång church, which is the oldest church in Dalarna, the region of Sweden where I come from. It's believed that the church was built towards the end of the 12th century, and that its position was chosen because it had once, according to legend, been a spot where sacrificial offerings to Thor (Tor), the pagan god of thunder took place. It's interesting to note that whilst Christianity reached Sweden sometime in the 9th century, the strong pagan beliefs meant that it was not until the middle of the 12th century that Christianity became well established. It was very common that churches were built on traditional pagan sites.
The west gable, showing the representation of Thor
Torsång church is very simple, build mainly from granite, while the gables and the upper parts of the friezes, along with buttresses, arches, windows and portal claddings are made of hard-baked tiles. There is an upright male figure on the west gable, which supposedly is a representation of Thor. Inside the church is breathtakingly beautiful, the carved and painted wooden pulpit dates from the early 17th century and there is a simple wood carving of Christ from the 15th century.
The parish of Torsång became an important hub in Dalarna, mainly due to its position, at the junction where lake Runn meets the rivers Västerdalälven and Österdalälven. The copper mine in Falun, the "capital" of Dalarna, depended heavily on timber from the large forests in the eastern and northen parts of the region, and the logs were floated down the rivers and into lake Runn by way of Torsång. In the mid sixties water transport was replaced by other means (mainly rail), and the village of Torsång started to die soon after.
A gravestone from the cemetery
But it is still possible to take an afternoon cruise on lake Runn from Falun to Torsång, something my mother and I inevitably do whenever I go home to visit. And after having coffee and cake or an ice cream in the cafe', it's aweinspiring to walk around grounds of the church and the cemetery, knowing that people have lived in this area since the stone age.