Anneli & Fredrik
June 10, 2006
[History] [Legends] [Buildings]
Legend has it that somewhere in the grounds of Rockelstad lies a treasure of expensive wines buried. In 1889 times were good in Sweden and the royal steward at Rockelstad, Carl Sylvan, spent some of his income on fine wines. Some years later he was declared bankrupt and decided to hide the wine rather than part with it. He fled to New York where he managed to work his way up to become the owner of a luxury hotel in Chicago. In his old age he travelled back to Sweden to pay off his debts. It is believed that he revealed the location of the treasure to Eric von Rosen's leaseholder but today nobody knows the whereabouts of the treasure.
David Stuart, who had the main body of the existing palace built in 1642, was married twice, first to Anna Kruse and later to Brita Liljeram, and many have seen the ghosts of his two wives over the centuries. They are dressed in long, black dresses with lace collars. These two wives never met in real life and therefore they have a lot to talk about, especially after having been married to the same man. They can sometimes be seen walking across the courtyard, arms linked, and you can hear them whisper. Sometimes they can be seen as shadows at dawn in the west wing. They are harmless ghosts who keep to themselves most of the time and if they notice that somebody has seen them they disappear. Guest staying overnight on the ground floor often ask in the morning who was upstairs when no one has been sleeping upstairs. However, there could be other ghosts in the west wing than the Stuart ladies since several visitors lately have seen the ghost of a young girl.
The well known author Verner von Heidenstam stayed at Rockelstad for a longer period of time in 1899 looking for inspiration for his book "Karolinerna" (the chapters about Turkey and King Karl XII were written at Rockelstad). He sat in the Turkish room writing frantically for days and then rested exhausted in his chair whilst considering his work. After a while he woke up to a peculiar noise, a metallic ringing coming closer and closer. The door opened and the ghost of King Karl XII entered the room, his silver spurs against the floor making the ringing noise. The king stood in the middle of the room staring at the frightened Heidenstam. He lifted his arm and pointed towards the sky with his sword and said: "God condemns me!". The ghost explained that he had said a prayer the last night of his life. He allegedly also told Heidenstam about the mistakes he had made in his book. The ghost then disappeared. Heidenstam did not know which prayer the king had referred to but randomly picked up one of the books on the desk in front of him and opened it. It turned out to be an 18th century book of prayers and in it was a prayer written down by a soldier the night before the death of the king. This was the prayer of Karl XII!
Heidenstam had managed to notice some peculiarities in the king's uniform. The ghost was wearing high white gloves. This was strange since it was said that the king had used yellow gloves. Heidenstam decided to believe in the ghost and wrote in his book that the king had used white gloves. This caused outrage at the time. However, when the king's grave was later opened everyone could see that the ghost at Rockelstad had been right, the gloves really were white. Heidenstam later wrote about this in one of his novels.
The large ash tree at Rockelstad is approximately one thousand years old. It could therefore be that the tree had started growing already during the viking era and it is named after Yggdrasil, the tree of life in Scandinavian mythology. In the 1920's it was measured to be one of the largest in northern Europe. Every year the von Rosen family gathered by the tree and drank mead from an old silver plated horn from the middle ages. Promises were made and sealed by pouring out the rest of the mead over the roots of the tree turning it into a magical tree. The same night Eric von Rosen died lighting cut the tree in half. When his wife, countess Mary, died a storm cut the remaining tree in half reducing it to a quarter of its former size. The tree has now managed to grow back to about three quarters of it's original size.
Eric von Rosen used to have a tame bear. It was a Russian bear that Eric had brought back with him from his travels in Finland. He had by mistake shot a female bear with cubs and he brought those with him back to Rockelstad. Mischa slept by the side of his bed and roamed free in the grounds of the palace. He had a distinct personality and decided quickly whether he liked or disliked Eric's many visitors. The landscaper of the grounds, Rudolf Abelin, was amongst those who Mischa disliked. When he walked round the park marking out plants with poles and ribbons Mischa dug them all up again. Mischa had to be destroyed after he attacked a farm-hand who tried to stop him from digging through an animal carcass Eric honoured him by building a mound of stone over him. The little mound is situated to the west of the west wing.
During his adventures in Africa Eric von Rosen collected a large amount of artefacts from the primitive tribes that he met. Many of those ended up at Rockelstad where the upper hallway was turned into a museum. Many of the artefacts were horrifying masks and skulls. The magical troll drum came from a tribe in Central Africa. It consists of a small drum on a stick with two balls tied by strings which moved when the stick was turned. These balls were made out of stuffed skulls, with hair and everything, that had been shrunk. The two skulls are said to have come from two lovers from different tribes who died for their love for one another. The drum was used by the shaman of the tribe to call upon the spirits of the ancestors. Clearly such a magical artefact could not find rest hanging on a nail in Sweden. It gave off a horrifying howling noise at night which terrified many guests. It can now be seen at the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm and is said to be haunted still.
There are several portraits of relatives of the present owners in the drawing room of the palace. Among those can a gentleman with a white wig and red gustavian uniform be found. His name was Ristell and he was a good friend of King Gustav III and also very musical. The king often asked him to write music for his plays and light opera. When Gustav had the Royal Dramatical Theatre built in Stockholm Ristell was to become the first manager. However, he had one problem. He stayed at a mansion near Uppsala, a long way from the opera in Stockholm. He decided to arrange better transport to the capital. He put mooses in front of his carriage since they were faster and had more stamina than horses and also greatly impressed societey when he travelled along the streets of Stockholm. The king became jealous and ordered Ristell to breed moose at his mansion for a royal moose regiment. During a number of years until the death of the king Stockholm took pride in its own noble moose regiment. The animals became valued friends and were buried at a special moose cemetary near Ristell's mansion. When the king was shot dead at the theatre Ristell and his mooses fell into disgrace. The farm was shut down and Ristell ended up in prison where he remained until his death. The only thing that still reminds us of the amusing episode are the graves with tombstones on the overgrown moose cemetary.