Dalecarlia - Encyclopedia

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DALECARLIA (Dalarne, " the Dales"), a west midland region of Sweden, virtually coincident with the district (kin) of Kopparberg, which extends from the mountains of the Norwegian frontier to within 25 m. of Gefle on the Baltic coast. It is a region full of historical associations, and possesses strong local characteristics in respect of its products, and especially of its people. The Dalecarlians or Dalesmen speak their own peculiar dialect, wear their own peculiar costumes, and are famed for their brave spirit and sturdy love of independence. In 1434, led by Engelbrecht, the miner, they rose against the oppressive tyranny of the officers of Eric XIV. of Denmark, and in 1519-1523 it was among them that Gustavus Vasa found his staunchest supporters in his patriotic task of freeing Sweden from the yoke of the Danes. The districts around Lakes Runn and Siljan ("the Eye of the Dales"), the principal sheets of water in the valleys of the Dal rivers, are consequently classic ground. By the banks of Lake Runn, for example, is seen the barn in which Vasa threshed corn in disguise, when still a fugitive from the Danes. The people are for the most part small peasant proprietors. They eke out their scanty returns from tilling the soil by a variety of home industries, such as making scythes, saws, bells, wooden wares, hair goods, and so forth. About three quarters of the whole district is covered with forest. Besides the wealth of the forests, the Dales contain some of the largest and most prolific iron mines in Sweden, notably those of Grangesberg. Copper is mined at Falun, the chief town of Kopparberg, and some silver and lead, zinc and sulphur is found. In consequence of this the district has numerous smelting furnaces, blasting and rolling mills, iron and metallurgical works, as well as saw-mills, wood-pulp factories, and chemical works.

See G. H. Mellin, Skildringar of den Skandinaviska Nordens Folklif og Natur, vol. iii. (1865); and Frederika Bremer, I Dalarne (1845), of which there is an English translation by William and Mary Howitt (1852). For the dialect, see a paper by A. Noreen, in De Svenska Landsmalen, vol. iv. (1881).

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