Fencing In A Napoleonic Era Invalid Cemetery

Ulriksdal Invalid Cemetery, projected layout by Nyrén Architects

The Swedish National Property Board has done something pretty clever and unusual with geophysics near the royal country manor (”castle”) of Ulriksdal outside Stockholm.

In 1821 the King allocated the manor for the use of a care home for destitute war veterans, “invalids”. Soon a cemetery was laid out nearby since the residents understandably had a pretty high mortality rate. About 200 people were buried there over the following quarter century, before the invalid home was closed down in 1849. Sweden had (and still has) not been in a state of war since 1814, so there were no longer any military invalids to care for.

In 1884 the cemetery was refurbished, and got a new fence. Rather than fence the whole thing in, the decision was made to fence only about a sixth of the former cemetery including some high-status burials. The rest was allowed to revert to forest.

Now the cemetery is scheduled for refurbishing again. The Property Board has decided that all of those veterans of our country’s last wars deserve a tidy cemetery environment. They commissioned Lars Winroth and Anna Andreasson Sjögren to survey selected areas with ground-penetrating radar to check the distribution of grave cuts. Not in order to excavate them, but to fence them in! And now the GPR results are included on the new design plan from Nyrén Architects.

Thanks to my friend Magnus Reuterdahl of the Property Board for information and plans.

“Nuv staket” = current fence. The purple rectangles outside it are GPR survey areas.

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Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

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