Legends and Lore
We shortly want to tell you about some of the funny and strange events that have occurred at Rockelstad
These histories have mainly come to our knowledge through word of mouth from local people
and precedent generations.
Heidenstam and the Ghost of Charles XII
Suddenly the curtain before the door opened and King Charles
himself entered the room. It was his silver spurs that had made the sound. The King stopped in the middle of
the room and stared at the terrified Heidenstam. He lifted his sable and pointed with it toward the sky and
shouted: God judges me! Then the ghost vanished. But the good Heidenstam had time to observe a few oddities
in the King’s uniform; the simple blue, that he had designed himself.
The Swedish author and poet Verner von Heidenstam often visited the great estates in central Sweden.
Often he stayed for a while at one mansion, and then move on. When he wrote his masterpiece Karolinerna
in 1898, about the life and adventures of King Charles XII, he stayed at Rockelstad, which was between
owners at that time.
He started writing in the Turkish room, where he sought inspiration to the tale of
the Kings stay in Turkey. This had good effect, for he wrote frenetically for several days, and then fell
into contemplation over what he had accomplished. After a while, though, he was awakened by a strange sound,
a metallic ringing noise that came toward him.
Among other things the royal ghost
wore yellow moose-skin gloves. This was puzzling, for the historians believed that the King used white gloves.
Now, this may appear a minor issue, but the patriotic Swedish people at that time shared a passion for their
Hero-King, that even included his gloves. Heidenstam chooses to believe the ghost anyway, and wrote in his
book that the King wore yellow gloves. The expected reaction from the academics did not wait, and his
unhistorical writing was criticized. But he was eventually proven right, when the tomb of King Charles XII
was opened some years later, and all could see that the ghost at Rockelstad had been right; the gloves were
indeed yellow. This story Heidenstam later published in a collection of short-stories.
Mischa the Bear and Rudolf Abelin
When the architect
worked in the Park putting up sticks and strings, the bear sneaked after. And when Abelin moved to another
part of the Park, the bear tore down the sticks and gathered them in a pile. Abelin noticed nothing, so the
sabotage wasn’t discovered until he asked the Count to inspect the work! The peculiar bear Mischa ended
tragically, though; he had to be shot after having attacked a farmhand who had tried to stop him from digging
up a cadaver. But Eric decided to honour his comrade and so had a mound placed over his grave.
Eric von Rosen kept a pet bear at the time of the great remake of the castle park. Mischa was a Great Russian
bear that Eric brought with him after his trip to Finnish Karelia. He had by mistake shot a female bear with
small cubs, which he took with him back to Sweden.
Mischa became tame and was allowed to run around freely in
the Park, and so long as Eric was a bachelor the bear slept in the foot end of his bed. The bear developed a
great personality and it decided very quickly if it approved or disapproved of Eric’s many guests.
The landscape-architect Rudolf Abelin belonged to those Mischa instinctively disliked.
The Wine Treasure
Somewhere in the Park surrounding Rockelstad is a treasure of wine buried. Carl Sylvan had made a
substantial fortune during the good times, and in 1889 had the towers built on the castle.
The position at the Court no doubt provided good business opportunities, and probably contributed
in filling his well supplied wine-cellar. When Sylvan later went bankrupt, the wine was still there,
and rather than leaving it to his claimants he decided to bury it in secret.
Carl Sylvan fled to
New York where he started from the bottom and worked himself up to be a successful hotel owner in
Chicago. He supposedly met the man who during von Rosen’s ownership was farming the estate in
New York in 1912, who was among the survivors of Titanic. But exactly where the wine was dug down
remains a mystery.
The Ghost-ladies Stuart
David Stuart, who in 1642 had built the mansion that is preserved in the centre-section of the castle,
was married twice. His first wife was Anna Kruse of Alghammar and his second was Brita Liljeram of Langbro.
Those two wives are the traditional ghosts of Rockelstad, and many have been seen them through the centuries.
They are dressed in long black robes and lace collars.
According to legend the Ladies never met in life, why
they have a lot to discuss, especially since they had been married to the same husband. Typically they are
seen gliding silently across the yard, arm in arm and whispering, or sit in a niche in the upper floor of
the west wing, where they are seen as shadows against the twilight. The Stuart Ladies are, however, harmless
ghosts who usually keep to themselves, and if they notice that someone sees them, they just vanish. Most
common is that visitors hear them moving around on the upper floor of the west wing.
Often the guests ask
in the morning if someone has been on the upper floor, when it is certain that it was empty. But perhaps
there are other supernatural beings in the wing than the Ladies, for lately several visitors have seen
the ghost of a young girl and other unexplainable things.
The Screaming Drum
During his hazardous adventures in Africa Eric von Rosen came across many artefacts from the various tribes
he encountered. Many of strange items ended up at Rockelstad, where the upper floor of the Great Hall was
served as an ethnographical museum. Some of these objects were terrifying, ghastly masks, skulls and the like.
The Magical Drum came from a tribe of pygmies in Central Africa. It consisted of a small drum on a stick,
with two balls attached to strings that beat against the drum when it was rotated. These balls were made of
shrunken and stuffed human heads, complete with hair and everything.
The heads were from a loving couple from
warring tribes, who had died for their love! This drum was used by the shaman of the tribe to call upon the
spirits of the forefathers. Naturally such a magic object could not find peace nailed to a wall in Sweden.
Subsequently the drum made a horrible screaming sound at night, which terrified many visitors. The drum is
now kept in the ethnographical museum in Stockholm, where it reportedly continues to scream out its agony.
Ristell and the Royal Moose
In front of his carriage he had moose, which were both faster and tougher than horses, and which
besides made a grand sight when they came thundering in onto the streets of Stockholm. This much impressed
the societée and even the theatrical Gustav was green with envy, so the King ordered Ristell to breed moose
and form a Royal Regiment with moose! So he did, and during a number of years up until the King’s death
Stockholm could pride itself with its noble Moose-cavalry.
In the antechamber of the castle are portraits of members of the current Lord and Lady’s families. Among
these is a gentleman with a white whig a red Gustavian livery. His name was Ristell and he was a good friend
of King Gustav III and also a talented musician, so the King often had Ristell write notes to his attempts at
plays and operettas. When Gustav built the first Royal Theatre in Stockholm Ristell became its first director.
But Ristell had a problem. He lived on an estate called Vangsjoberg, situated in Gottrora near Uppsala.
From there it was far to the theatre in Stockholm, so Ristell decided to arrange a faster transportation to
And the animals became much loved companions,
who were buried on a particular moose-cemetery at Vangsjoberg. But the shot at the opera didn’t only kill
the King, also the moose and Ristell were discarded. The moose stud-farm was abandoned and Ristell was
imprisoned for life. And the only thing reminding of this funny episode is the named and dated gravestones
on the now derelict moose cemetery.
Yggdrasil the Magical Ash Tree
In the 1920ies
the tree had four enormous canopies, and after measuring it was estimated to be the largest tree in northern
Europe by volume. The von Rosen family gathered every New Years Eve around the tree, where they drank mead
from a medieval horn. They all said their vows for the coming year, and consecrated them by pouring the last
drops of mead onto the roots of Yggdrasil.
It is a tradition among the estates to nurture particular trees, and at Rockelstad is a gigantic ash tree
on the eastern side of the castle: Yggdrasil. The name comes from the Viking mythology, in which the ash
tree Yggdrasil is the world tree that carries the universe, and at the root of which the Nornas weaves
the destiny of people. This tree is about a thousand years old, and can possibly have been planted in the
Viking Age. Its circumference measures almost seven meters and has three separate canopies.
This way the tree became magical, and the same night that
Eric von Rosen diseased a lightning struck and split the tree, and two of the canopies fell down. When years
later the Countess passed away, a storm came that once again halved the tree, and one single canopy remained.
But the age old ash is still vital, and now two new canopies are growing up.