Vikens Kultur- & Byaförening

The Fishing Maid Lovisa

This is the story about the fishing maid Lovisa - commonly called Lingen's Lovisa.

Here you can see the young fishing girl Lovisa sitting with a big cod in her arms. On this particular day the fishermen from Viken came home with an unusually large catch and with the biggest cod they had ever caught in their nets.

Now and then they made fun of Lovisa, Lingen’s Lovisa, when  they handed her the cod. Sometimes perhaps it happened at her own expense?

If the game with went too far, she could probably take offense. She would then tell them about the time when she had to accompany the fishing maids to Varberg to receive the catch the fishermen from Viken had landed there. This could happen when they had their fish catcher further up in the Kattegatt. Back home in Viken again, Lovisa said she had been treated much better in Varberg than here at home. People were much better and nicer there than in Viken. In Varberg she had been respectfully and politely addressed with ¨Miss Lind¨ and not with ¨Lingen´s Lovisa¨.

Now she was sitting in the harbor with the giant fish in her arms and with her thoughts elsewhere, dreaming herself away by looking out over the harbor, across the strait towards the horizon and an uncertain future. Would she together with the other fishing maids from Viken, always have to do the hard work with the freshly caught fish in the harbor? Of course there was no answer to that question.

As long as her father, the carpenter at sea Jöns Nilsson Lind, often called ¨Lingen¨, was alive everything went well. At that time the income was so good that Jöns could afford to build a house for his growing family. The house was and still is situated down towards the sea on the plot between Mästerlotsgränd and Torviggsgränd. But luck was not on their side. Jöns Lind suddenly died when his was only 50 and now the widow Christina was alone in the half-finished house with several children to support, mostly girls and all very beautiful. Helena was the prettiest one and people said she was a real beauty.

When their father died, Lovisa was 20 and as the eldest daughter she had to help in the household and contribute to put food on the table.

But how was life for “Lingan’s Lovisa”? She was called “Lingan” in the village after her mother Christina Lind. Later Lovisa left the hard work in the harbor and became a  laundress and washed clothes for skipper families. It was hard work and long hours along with the other laundresses. She was on her knees by the Niagara Creek scrubbing, rinsing and patting her laundry.

And what about love? She had been in love with the elderly sweeper and lime burner Nils. But Lovisa didn’t think Nils was a good match for her. He was simply too dirty and never had a proper bath.

The years passed and the always hard working Lovisa continued to live alone and unmarried in the home where she was born. She had taken over the house when her sisters started their own families. When she turned 58, her worn-out body couldn’t take it any more and she died, as it is said in the church register – of heart disease.

Lovisa was born in 1853 and died in 1911.

The sculptor Sara Stenlund has created this work of art with support of the brothers Nils and Malt Kock´s bequeathed donation for the beautification of Viken.

Photo: Kanos Media

Viken 1737

The artist Sara Stenlund has not only sculpted the fishing maid Lovisa, but also produced a bronze relief that shows how Viken’s fishing village looked like in the mid-1700s. For reference Sara has used surveyor Anton Cöpinger’s Geometric Map from 1737.

The people of the then 250-year-old village lived for the most part of what the sea offered, but they also had as a complement in the food what was grown in small cabbage gardens next to the houses and on small fields east of the village.

At its peak, Viken had consisted of 61 plots, with about 350 inhabitants, but now in 1737 as many as 19 of them were deserted. A devastating plague, the dreaded bubonic plague, ravaged the village in 1711, with between 1/3th to half of the population of the village strewn along.  It took 50 years before the village had fully recovered.

Think back to the mid-18th century. What you see on the relief is the village core with small clay-clinched half-timbered houses – all white-stepped. Looks steady like this in bronze, but were in fact simply built rickety constructions, which exposed to the hard vest wind could easily collapse. Today, none of the houses from that time remain in Viken.

But do not despair. Some of it still remains.  Something that is unique to the village. The irregular street network with winding streets and narrow alleys that delimit plots still exist today, and reflect the character of the old fishing village. As well many plots still look the same.

The harbor is easier to distinguish with its two piers and a beach brink. It was closer to the village at the time.

And if you look closely, you will see both Skepparegatan, Fyrgatan, Repslagaregränd, Bygatan and other areas known today. Search and you shall find!

In the Old Cemetery we see burial mounds and the former chapel built in half-timbered. Our present church was placed elsewhere, replacing the older one in 1826.

On the relief we see that a farm in Böösa backe blocks the descent towards the harbor, but there was a small passage there between the farms – then called Böösa Guda named after the fisherman Lars Böös.

Stig Ewaldson

This bronze relief has been produced by the local artist Sara Stenlund in collaboration with Vikens culture and village association. The project was funded by donations bequeathed by the brothers Nils and Malte Kock who’s wish was to beutify Viken. 

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