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Remarkable objects at Rockelstad

The Great Bear

In the lower floor of the Great Hall are many of remaining objects from the von Rosen family. The Great Russian bear was killed with a spear, by Eric von Rosen in Karelia. Eric was invited by the Finnish authorities to hunt bear during his expedition to Laplandia in 1904, for the area suffered from a bear invasion. Von Rosen killed 22 bears, and the two largest he chose to meet the Viking way, with only a spear. Those two bears were preserved and placed at Rockelstad. He accidentally killed a female bear with cubs, which he brought with him back to Sweden. One he named Mischka and took as a pet, it ran around freely in the Park and terrified the visitors. It slept in the foot-end of Eric's bed until his marriage with Mary, who was not too happy about sharing beds with a fully grown bear. The Great Bear at Rockelstad
The Great Bear

The Samurai

This Japanese suit of armour was manufactured during the Ashikaga-shogunate at the end of the sixteenth century. It is made up of sheets of wrought steel that have been lacquered black and decorated with red and gold, and then tied together with silk strings. It is equipped with a face-mask, which indicated that it belonged to a samurai in the Imperial Guard, for it was not permitted to show your face to the Divine Emperor. On several places are painted its original owner's coat of arms, so it is possible to trace who actually wore it. On top of the helmet is fastened a magnificent bush of human hair. This armour was brought to Sweden with the ship Vega in 1878 after the first successful attempt to reach Asia via the North-East Passage, that is north of Siberia and through Berings Sound. The explorer Adolph Erik Nordenskjold was received with great pomp in Japan, and was the first European to be invited to meet the Emperor since the opening of trade in 1866. This samurai armour was one of five given to Nordenskjold by the Emperor, and it was given to Eric von Rosen on his fifty-year birthday in 1929 by Erland Nordenskjold.

Japanese Samurai at Rockelstad
The Samurai

The Great Bridal Chest

Placed in between the Bear and the Samurai is an enormous bridal chest of oak. Its front has arches and four reliefs depicting episodes from the Bible. These carvings are flanked by herms with primitive portrait busts and the coats of arms of the two families. This renaissance chest was made in the late sixteenth century, probably in the south of Sweden of Denmark. It was part of the von Rosen collection of renaissance furniture. Such chests were designed to contain the bride's dowry, and only the upper nobility could afford to fill this substantial chest with expensive items. Rockelstad Castle, The Great bridal chest
The Great bridal chest

The Dining room cupboards

In the old dining room are two cupboards, both of oak wood. One of them has a slightly lighter hue; it has simple geometrical patterns on its doors, a richly carved top end and three male heads with funny-looking hats. It has three wrought-iron-like ornaments of ebony, which together with a vertical linear pattern appears almost gothic. This cupboard is probably North-German, made in mid 16th century, and it is preserved in its original form. The darker of the cupboards has quadruple doors carved with arches and biblical scenes, and three pillars with ionic capitals. It is a bit later; it dates from around 1600, and it has been partly repaired about 100 years ago.
Rockelstad Castle, Dining room cupboards
Dining room cupboards

The Napoleon Bed

The Napoleon Tower is a room in the north-western part of the castle, used as the wedding-suite. The name comes from the fantastic bed, made in Paris in 1812 in the style of Napoleon himself; the Empire-style. Its heavily curved head- and foot ends are adorned with gilded eagle-heads, and the bed stands on robust claw-and-ball feet. This style is a result of Napoleons wars in Italy 1796 and in Egypt 1798. The art and buildings from the antiquity abundant in these countries became a source of inspiration for designers and architects throughout the West. The bed has previously been at a neighbouring estate, whose owner's ancestor originally took it from France.
Detail of the Napoleon bed at Rockelstad
The Napoleon Bed

The Gothic Chest

This remarkable chest is the only remaining piece of Count Eric von Rosen’s great collection of gothic furniture. It is made of oak and has a high, richly carved back, decorated with primitive grape-vines and other favourite gothic ornaments. Beneath these are sections carved with a late-gothic version of the typical linenfold-pattern, a vertical profiling that aims to give an impression of a piece of folded linen-cloth. This chest has sometime during the 15th century been part of the interior of a monastery or church, and is believed to be of Scottish origin. Rockelstad Castle, the Gothic Chest
The Gothic Chest

The Mastodon Tusk

In the window-niche toward the yard is a giant tusk of a mastodon. The mastodon is a relative of the mammoth, one of the largest species of elephant ever to have walked the surface of the earth. The tusk, however is, not of ivory, but is completely fossilized, and consists of limestone. It was discovered among many other prehistoric remains, in a crest in the Cochabamba-valley in southern Bolivia. This was in 1901, during Eric von Rosen's South American expedition. It was at that time the largest tusk ever to have been found. A collection of smaller tusks were donated by the Count to the Museum of Natural Science in Stockholm
The Mastodon Tusk at Rockelstad
The Mastodon Tusk

The Sarcophagus of St. Henry

In the chapel in the south-eastern tower is a set of copperplate prints with gothic motifs. They are in fact taken off a sarcophagus in the Cathedral of Abo, which holds the remains of St Henry, the saint of Finland. It is a made of black diabase, clad with engraved sheets of brass, manufactured in the Flanders sometime around 1420, and it illustrates the history of the christening of Finland.

In the early thirteen hundreds the Pope assigned to the English bishop Henry, in an alliance with the Swedish King Erik (the Holy), exterminate paganism in Finland. This crusade went well, they baptized the ones they didn't kill, and Finland became a part of Sweden. But the Bishop Henry had the misfortune to annoy the peasant Lalli, for the noble procession had eaten all his stored food without paying. Lalli then uses his axe and quickly kills the Bishop and escapes, after having chopped off one of the Bishop's fingers to get the Bishop's ring. He places the finger in his pocket and then runs across the Finnish ices, where he accidentally drops the Bishop's finger. The killer manages to stay hidden well into the summer, when a young fisherman and his blind old father come upon a sheet of ice that has refused to melt in spite of the warmth. Upon the ice sits the Holy Spirit, in the form of a falcon, guarding the Bishop's finger. The young fisherman gives the finger to his blind father, who then miraculously regains his ability to see, and with this new and divine sight, he can spot the killer's hideout.

These prints were a gift to Eric von Rosen from the government of Finland, thanking for von Rosen's aid to the Finnish national movement during the war of liberation from Russia in 1918. The Finnish general Mannerheim had asked the Nordic neighbouring countries for aid, especially in the form of aeroplanes, but without response. Eric von Rosen could not abide the cowardice of the Swedish government, so he decided to buy an aeroplane himself, which he and the pilot Nils Kindberg flew from Sweden to Abo. This was actually the first crossing of the Baltic Sea with an aeroplane, but more importantly it became the start of a massive campaign of support for the Finnish Cause, that eventually made it possible for Finland to become an independent state.
Top of the Sarcophagus of St. Henry
Top of the Sarcophagus of St. Henry

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640 34 Sparreholm. Sweden    Tel: + 46 157 - 32115.    E-Mail:    Sitemap    Last update: 2009-01-09

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