Vädersolstavlan ("the Sun Dog Painting") is presumably the oldest known image that depict Stockholm, in addition it depicts a halo display, e.g. sun dogs, that appeared on the Stockholm sky in April 1535. Stockholmskällan (The Stockholm Source), Stockholm City Museum.
Villages and farms
In the middle of the 13th century Stockholm was established as a defended trading town no larger than the present Old Town. Outside the town walls villages, farms, fields and meadows spread out in an extensive agricultural landscape. In various ways the town with its institutions exemplified the farming community in its environs. As the Middle Ages progressed the farms and villages became transformed into monasteries and other church institutions. In 1452, the king Karl Knutsson claimed possession of the whole of South Djurgården, or Valdemar’s Island, which was its name at the time. The island was needed both to defend Stockholm and to provide provisions for the palace. Together with the crown, Klara kloster (St Clare’s Abbey), Helgeandshuset (Holy Ghost Hospital), and Svartbrödraklostret (Black Friar’s Abbey) were the main landowners in the 15th century “national city park”.
A spectacular countryside greeted the visitor to North and South Djurgården. Fenced-in fields and rocky knolls, little islets and deep bays reminded one of the proximity to the archipelago. The monasteries and crown utilized the land mainly for animal husbandry, especially cattle-rearing, to provide meat and milk products for their own maintenance. This meant that outlying cultivated fields were laid fallow to serve as hay fields and pastures so as to provide food for the animals.
Gustav Vasa’s reformation at the beginning of the 16th century ended the Church’s land-owning era. By the mid-16th century the whole of North and South Djurgården had become royal land. Agricultural management was steered mainly by three royal manors: Vädla, which lay below the hill of present-day Nobel Park near Djurgården Bridge, Helgeandsliderne in the proximity of Stora Skuggan, and Nya ladugården (‘New Barn’) which lay roughly where Hötorget lies today. The considerable pasturage and hay fields created an open and varied countryside.
In the northern parts of the park the traditional villages and farms lived on until the estate formation of the 16th and 17th centuries. The village of Frösunda lay in the inlet of Brunnsviken and the villages of Upper and Lower Järva lay in the Ulriksdal area. The isolated property of Bergshamra gave rise to today’s city area of the same name.