Picture of the armoury

The Armoury

The Armoury and the Lathe Room

To many people the Armoury is perhaps the most exciting place in the whole Castle. The naturally darkened walls hung with rows of guns and pistols are calculated to fire the imagination; this has always been the case. This might have been part of the intention when the three rooms in the castles top storey were fitted out, in the winter of 1669-70. Two carpenters, Hans Sivers and Mattias Slange, sawed boards from thick logs to line the walls, creating a rustic but at the same time eminently practical environment – just the thing for the thousand and more forged nails which had to be hammered in to carry the weapons. Wrangel’s armourer at the time, Mattias Henriksson Plog, could then hang everything and put the three rooms in order. Between them they contain something like 2,000 items.

Not only weapons and armour but also stuffed exotic animals, a Greenland kayak, a South American hammock, and Native American artefacts from the New World mingled here with Italian chopines (platform heels) and theatrical costumes from Stockholm. The Armoury, then, was a farrago of everything that Man and Nature were capable of achieving. People would come here perhaps after dinner both to admire beautiful, modern weapons and to be fascinated by remote, exotic worlds beyond the confines of Europe. All this and a Library add up to a great starting point for the imagination.

The art of turning at the lathe was for over 250 years part of the education of a European prince. Adepts would be privately tutored by masters of the art. They worked with such costly, exclusive materials such as ivory and ebony producing twisted, asymmetrical beakers or balls enclosed in open spheres – many-faceted, complex shapes of the kind which late Renaissance and Baroque people loved, and which at the same time did justice to the virtuoso skills of the turner. The objects were often made for no practical use but were displayed in special rooms or cabinets.

So when Carl Gustav Wrangel had his lathe workshop fitted out at Skokloster in 1673, he was following a continental tradition. Nils Nilsson Brahe, his son-in-law, had already purchased a lathe and lathe tools in Stockholm a few years earlier. They had been made by Johan Kesmaker, an Admiralty smith, from whom Wrangel went to commission a couple of lathes and a great number of lathe tools. These, together with tools from an auction of the effects of Johan Oxenstierna at Rosersberg, make up the Skokloster Lathe Workshop as we now know it.

The Castle also has an impressive collection of Dutch woodworking tools such as planes, saws, carver’s chisels and drills etc. Most of these were bought by Wrangel already in 1664, and delivered from Amsterdam. The Skokloster Lathe Workshop and collection of tools are unique of their kind in Europe. Tools have been used, worn out and discarded through out history, but here they have been saved. We know when most of them were bought, we know what many of them were used for; we have the results or products, and in some cases we also have the prototypes.