Until the latter half of the 17th century Djurgården bore the stamp of the agricultural activities carried out in the area. In the 1680s, its transformation into a hunting park began. Crops were no longer grown in the fields which now lay fallow to become grazing land – pastures – for the king’s deer. Some hayfields were maintained for the winter feed. After the late 18th century Djurgården became a summer park and in 1829 the remaining deer were moved to a smaller field in present-day Hjorthagen.
The meadows and pastures have lost much of their original wealth of species through lack of cultivation and air pollution. The park’s meadows and pastures are to be found north of Manilla, at Kaknäs, Stora and Lilla Skuggan, west of Ulriksdal Palace and within the grounds of Sörentorp police academy, among other locations. At Lilla Skuggan you will find grazing horses, cows, sheep and wild geese.
The park’s sheep are known as ‘the king’s sheep’. For over a hundred years, the tradition of the king’s sheep has existed to maintain the open landscape on Djurgården. Their night-time transit through the city to their grazing ground was previously a great event. Nowadays they are to be seen mainly around Stora and Lilla Skuggan. The Royal Djurgården Administration, who care for a large portion of the Royal National City Park rents them nowadays from private owners. Norra Djurgården is maintained by a score of grazing cows of Highland Cattle race.