The road twists through the long village of Roteberg
The road twists through the long village of Roteberg.
Photograph: Lars Lööv

Roteberg is a typical farming village with ancient roots. In recent years, it has become a suburb of the town of Edsbyn. The village lies on the sunny side of the valley, with fields and meadows stretching down to lake Ullungen. The farms were built in a row along the edge of the forest in the north.

Roteberg is a longitudinal village conjoined with Östra Roteberg, Mellanbyn and Västra Roteberg. Since the early 20th century, the centre of the village has been at the shop, surrounded by the big farms Pallas, Uddas, Prans, Lassa, Lill Svens and Svens Ollas. Before the land division reforms, the centre of the village was located at Backa farm and the big Backa stone that marks the boundary with Västra Roteberg. This used to be the location of the Kyan farm, with property designation Roteberg no. 1.

Outlying buildings, housing tradesmen and soldiers, were located behind the farms. This has come down to us in farm names like Skomakra (Cobbler’s), Glasmästars (Glazier’s) Skräddarns (Tailor’s) and Smens (Smith’s). These farms are also relatively big.


The farm Skomakra in Roteberg, Edsbyn
Skomakra-Olof, a cobbler, with his family in
front of their home in Roteberg in about 1910
Photograph: Maria Engberg

A list of the richest farms in the province dating from 1276 includes one farm in Roteberg, but the history of the farms cannot be more clearly traced until the mid-16th century. In 1542, there were 14 named farms in Roteberg. The family trees of the farm owners can also be traced from that time. Pallas farm, for example, has been passed down in the same family since 1575. As at many other farms, the best room contains a framed diploma confirming the family’s connection to the farm.


Nils Persson, Pallas  The farm Pallas
Nils Persson by the Pallas farm family                 Pallas

Photographs: Lars Lööv

Old grain store

The oldest preserved building in the village belongs to the same farm: a grain store from the 1690s. Farms are often named after the farmer who lived there early in the farm's history. Pallas, Svens Ollas, Ersk-Ols and Lassas are examples of this. A number of the farms still possess all the old documents.

At Svens Ollas farm, the owners are historians of the farm and the village, and their documents tell us about the life on the farm in bygone days.

Old grain store
Photograph: Lars Lööv


For example, the hard lives of John and Sigrid in the mid-18th century are described in a few sentences: Sigrid; baptised and satisfactorily versed in Christian teachings, worked in service for a while, married aged 39, had two sons who both died young, was a quiet and gentle person, suffered from a cough and heavy chest and died on 16 March 1772.  John; worked in service for while, was a loving father, led a quiet and commendable life, perished suddenly through drowning…


The summer pastures

Maids with cows and goats at the Våsbo summer pastures in 1920

Maids with cows and goats at the Våsbo summer pastures in 1920.
Edsbyn Museum

The village’s summer pasturelands are located within a radius of 20–30 km in the vast wooded areas of the north and west. Animals were driven to these areas to graze in summer, and the maids made cheese, whey cheese and butter. Mittjasvallen in Norsbo is still a working summer pasture. The land at the Våsbo summer pastures (a World Heritage Site candidate) is kept open by grazing.


Lim-Johan (1865–1944)

His real name was Johan Erik Olsson. He painted and created artistic works throughout his life, and was posthumously recognised as one of Sweden’s – perhaps one of the world’s – foremost painters of the naïve school. He lived and worked in the villages around Ovanåker, with the exception of a few years at Uppsala hospital. His sister Karin lived in Roteberg and had married into one of the farms. He worked and lived there, and on nearby farms, as a farmhand.

He left the words Johan Erik Olsson ifrån Nybo uti Voxna (Johan Erik Olsson from Nybo in Voxna) as a kind of business card on the wall of the farmhand’s room on Pallas farm at the turn of the 20th century


The painting Kungajakt (Royal Hunt) by Lim-Johan
Kungajakt (Royal Hunt) and other paintings by Lim-Johan are on view at Edsbyn Museum
Edsbyn Museum



Passla farm

The village of Roteberg stretches north towards Kyan and the woodland of the summer pastures beyond. This is the location of one of the biggest farms in the parish: Passla, painted white and with many windows. One of the last farms in the elongated village of Roteberg, it stands out in the landscape.


Passla farm in Roteberg    Passla farm
The farm with all its windows stands out in the               Passla farm was built longer and wider than the landscape.                                                                               vicarage.
Photographs:  Lars Lööv              

Archbishop Natan Söderblom travelled through the area in 1927, and made the following note about his journey: ‘The road passes the largest residence in Ovanåker, Passla, a farm, painted white, steeped in sorrow. In Ovanåker, all the way from Viksjöfors through the whole parish up to Kyan, not a few farms with six windows on the gable and twelve along the side.’  The inspector also counted up to 14 windows on the long side of a house somewhere, an extravagance which is surpassed in Passla.


Text Ingalill Tengvall


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