Grindstonemaking in Mässbacken, Orsa
- an industri since the days of the vikings

The grindstone industri of Orsa have a very long history. Since the time of the vikings, about 1 000 years ago, people have worked the sandstone in Mässbacken, Orsa, into tools for sharpening. There are numerous archeological findings that tell about this.

Since the 1500th century, people of Orsa have been working the daystripmines in this sandstone area, making grindstones for sale. This have, through the centuries, been one of the most importent income sources for our villagers, and key industries for Orsa community.

The craftmanship of this trade have been more or less inherited in the families, since most of the population in our villages always been very dependent of the income from the sales of gindstones. They even tended to let their kids start working in the mines at very early ages.

Unfortunatly very many of the men died through the years. Mysterously, they all thought at first, but in later years of course all learned about silicoses, the stonedust sickness.

                                      Working the mine                                                                               
Industrial manufactoring began in the1700th century, and kept on until about 1930. Then, even the small family farms started using equiptment and tools wich no longer needed grindstones for daily use. The demands for household grindstones went down.

Therefore, the miners began manufactoring buildingmaterials, such as beautiful framework for big mansions, and handcut portal frieses. Skilled stonecutters were hired, even from other European countries.

Most part of this work is cleary visible still today, and displays a wonderful craftsmanship wich is hard to equal. One could say, this development came to be, because of the industrial revolution in farming throughout Europe.

                       Stonehacking shed from Kallmora 1916                                                              Stone cutting tools
Photo: Karl Erik Forslund                                                                                         Photo: Ivar Andersson
Every landowner (farmer) in the Orsa villages also owned a share in the mines.

Every village formed its own mining crue, and kept its own mineshed and stable and so on in the area.

Around 1850, more than 500 people was working the mines at the same time. More than 30 daystripmines were worked, and the sales was on a whole, a considerable income for all of Orsa community.

Orsa Stonemasonry Co:s building close to Mässbackens railway station.
                             Beautiful sandstone entrence                                 The Orsa Courthouse with its sandstone well.