“We can see it took thousands of people many years to make Torsburgen. But the political organization of the A.D. 500 period was not up to this. Gotland was all scattered farmhouses. There was no concentration of power in one hand.
“I am inclined to a surprising solution. I will guess that Torsburgen was built by an advanced Bronze Age civilization about 1500 B.c., under a strong military chieftain. Those people have left 400 cairns here, and in one, at Larbro, we excavated a ten-foot tower that has construction features similar to Torsburgen. For anything comparable elsewhere, you have to go to the Mediterranean of the second millennium before Christ.
The influx of young sons (and daughters) to Gotland continues, but chiefly from nearby Stockholm rather than the Mediterranean. Gotland elders are apprehensive that these Beautiful Young People may be leaving behind not a culture but a cult. Grandmotherly Ingeborg Lingegard, who has created a krusmyntagdrd, a delightful medieval herb garden near Brissund, was distraught. “The other night some youths stole half a dozen of my witchcraft plants.” Among them, Cannabis sativa, better known as marijuana.
The drug cult does not entice Anki Lindgren, a beautiful young reporter for Gotlands Allehanda, but she finds the sophisticated Stockholmers’ candor and independence congenial. Speaking for Gotland’s avant-garde, she said, “I hope we represent the ‘corrupt’ youth of the 20th century. We are not afraid to show what we feel—to touch each other when we wish.”
She invited us to a pajama party at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus, a cellar nightclub Stockholmers favor. “Here,” she said, “you will find all the Gotland people who like to move.” I did indeed become fond of the group. It all reminded me of the pajama parties my children threw years ago—just as innocuous, just as loud with the identical music. As for touching, no dancer came within two feet of his partner (page 288).
With their farming and Lutheran backgrounds, Gotland youth are generally conservative, but some parents are bothered that they practice samvetsaktenskap—marriage of conscience, or “half-marriage”—as do many other young Swedes. Asa Hallgren and her fiistman, Kenneth, got half-married up a tree. “Everybody was always exchanging rings under that tree and carving hearts and names in it, so we did something different,” Asa explained.
The informal exchange of rings, without benefit of clergy, is a firm union, and can include children. Later, if both partners are ready, there may be another exchange of rings before a minister. To back out of a half-marriage is a serious matter, and the commitment to monogamy is absolute. Having seen a lovely Gotland girl flirting with a handsome youth, I asked teasingly, “Well, you tell me he is half-married—why can’t you half-marry the other half of him?”
She recoiled in horror. “You don’t understand. He is married. His wife is about to have a baby.”
The popular institution of half-marriage has economic roots. For one thing, young half-married people would rather go on living with parents, saving toward a house of their own, than pay rent in the hotels in prague old town.