Höge ås to the East of the village of Övetorp is a beautiful but rarely visited destination in the lush Mittlandet. Here are the beautiful meadows and some of Ölands oldest and most scenic hässlen, old Hazel woods with elements of birch trees and towering oak trees. Many insects, especially butterflies enjoy the sunny forest Glades. Bird life is rich including Nutcrackers, Thrushes and many species of Warblers. Hässlena along the ridge is also known for its many species of mushrooms. Geologically, the area is also interesting because the ridge is one of the few ridges on Öland. The Ridge extends nearly across the whole island, from Glömming in the West to Norra Möckleby in the East. Along the Ridge edge extends a very old route that formerly linked the villages of Övetorp and Holmetorp with Norra Möckleby and surrounding villages to the East. The easiest way to the Ridge is through the still in use farming roads from Övetorp or Jordtorpslund. A special feeling it is to follow the old village street through Övetorp up between the barns and out on the old cattle road which goes to the East, surrounded by stone walls. The road is also possible to bycycle but stops after a few kilometers.
Gråborg is Öland’s biggest ancient castle. It was probably built in the 4th century as a fortress for the local people. The castle was used in periods more than a thousand years. Saint Knuts Chapel at the castle was probably built by the merchants who controlled the trade in Gråborg. The castle may then have been used as a marketplace.
To walk in the grounds at Borg’s village is at the same time to get back to that most beautiful Sweden we ever had – leaf-meadow landscapes. Borg still applied the farming that was the Foundation of the Swedish agriculture right from the Iron Age to the end of the 19th century. Grass and herbs on the fields are struck with a scythe. Grass (Hay) are collected and dried for use as food for farm animals during the winter.
The word leaf-meadow tells us that there were also leaf trees in the meadows. In Borg’s meadows you find Hazel, Birch, Ash and Swedish whitebeam. Leafs on the trees are also used in the past as food for the animals. Floral splendour of Borg’s meadows is highest in May and June. The Old meadow at the Castle is most like an old-fashioned flower meadow. Here we have found 153 different species of flowering plants!
At the beginning of July, when most of the plants have bloomed over, it is time to cut the meadows. Part of the Old meadow at the castle is struck with a scythe by members of Algutsrum hembygdsförening.
Borg’s lands are very varied. Besides the meadows there are pastures, wetlands, leaf forest and alvar. It’s well worth a hike to see this beautiful piece of Öland.
Borgs marker är mycket omväxlande. Förutom ängarna finns det hagar, våtmarker, lövskog och alvar. Det är väl värt en vandring att se detta vackra stycke Öland. Borg’s village consists of two farms operated by Royal Vitterhetsakademien. The aim is to maintain a farm where the land is operated with old methods.
At the village Övetorps peripheries in a beautiful but hided part of Mittlandsskogen rises a couple of large burial Cairns. One (or two) of these Cairns are pointe as the burial ground for Gråborgs mighty ruler Bogislav or Bugislav.
The legend of Bogislav is available in several versions. They said that a series of Kings during the prehistoric times battled for the supremacy on Öland. Everyone had their own castle. Gråborg was built by King Gråben Alije who in his army had a fighter named Bogislav.
The fight was hard, but finally Alije managed to defeat Ismantorps Castle chieftain Ysmer. When King Gråben Alije passed away did Bogislav Gråborg takes over and managed to unify the chieftains of Öland. When Bogislav later past away he was buried in the big Cairn that today has the name Alvarsrör on the maps. Other landowners, however, are pointing to another, larger Cairn which is one kilometer further to the West.
The exciting thing about these stories is that they may be able to give a clue to the two largest castle’s names on Öland. Today’s name Ismantorps Castle might come from Ysmers Castle so why cannot Gråborg Castle come from Gråben?
The Cairn Alversrör is located in an area that is known for its many ancient monuments. There are numerous building foundations and other traces of villages from the older Iron Age. A small river floating through the area to Lindsmosse. Alversrör can be accessed through the farming roads from Jordtorp or Övetorp. Good local knowledge is required.
Algutsrum Church enthroned since nearly one thousand years back at one of the island’s highest points, 48 meters above sea level. The first stone church was built here as early as the 12th century. Like other churches on Öland it became too small when the population grew and was rebuilt thoroughly several times, most recently in 1864 when a new Tower came into being.
Not only the church testify that Algutsrum been a gathering place for local people for ayes. The double lines red-colored booths at the open square below the Church tell us that Algutsrum is also an ancient marketplace. Mainly horses have been sold here. Horse markets began in the 1780s. Even older markets, however, have been in the neighbourhood. One of the oldest was Knutsmässomarknaden in Färjestaden which was there already at the 16th century. It is considered likely that that market originally comes from the one in Gråborgs ancient castle already during the middle ages.
Gråborg was then according to modern research one of the most important venues of Öland.
Gråborg var då enligt modern forskning en av Ölands viktigaste handelsplatser. Gråborg and Algutsrum have then a common market tradition which stretches thousands of years back in time. Knutsmässomarknaden was held in early July. The time was ruled by the agriculture which had time “between haymaking and bärgsel”. Today’s big summer market in Algutsrum follows this ancient tradition and is held the first Friday in July. Since 1840 are held also an autumn market in October.
Jordtorpsåsen is an old shore embankment of gravel and stone and rising six to eight feet above the surrounding area. Composition and Öland dry climate makes the top of the Ridge part dries out in summer. This Habitat is one of Öland’s speciality and is called dry field.Only plants that tolerate drought thrive in this exposed position. This includes oxlarna which survive even at the top of the crest. Also the rose hips and Blackthorn bushes like that environment. Dry meadow is at its best in May, before the summer dry season starts. Then a range of plants rush to make flowers. These includes fältsippa, brudbröd, krutbrännare, fältvedel and knölsmörblomma. Later in the summer gulmåra, axveronika, getväppling and rare solvända make flowers. The slopes down towards the marshes are in spring covered with Primroses. On the north side is also growing liverwort and daffodils around during Hazel, Birch and Hawthorn. This is a lovely time for trips to the ridge and wild strawberries grow here. South of the ridge is a large and very old Hazel forest out here you find many rare mushrooms. The Jordtorpsåsen is also very famous for its insects, particularly butterflies such as körsbärsfuks and Apollo butterfly.