Til – a Viking Age estate
The aristocracy sought to manifest its position in society. They deliberately located farms and estates high on the landscape, so that they could survey the nearby surroundings. The farmstead complex of Til, high up on a hill north-east of Sigtuna, is a clear example of this strategy.
The settlement at Til can be seen from far and wide. From the courtyard the waterway to and from nearby Sigtuna could be controlled. There was an uninterrupted view over the fertile agricultural land below and a sheltered bay – an excellent harbour.
The place began to be used in the 4th and 5th centuries, but it was in the Viking Age that it became an affluent estate.
The settlement was arranged so that the bigger buildings were situated on large, paved terraces. A pattern which is repeated elsewhere in similar places. In the courtyard there are also smaller farm buildings and sheds, hearths and ovens as well as an area used for religious rituals.
Finds of objects include everything from household waste to different types of craftwork production, from everyday life to luxury consumption.
The history of the estate continues into the Middle Ages and straight through to Sweden’s highest elite. By means of a deed of donation from the beginning of the 14th century we know the name of one of its owners. It was the knight and Lord High Constable Torgils Knutsson, one of the most powerful and influential men in Sweden during the late 13th and early 14th century. Upon his death in 1306 (he was arrested and decapitated after falling into disfavour with the King, Birger Magnusson) Torgils bequeathed Til to the Franciscan monks in Greyfriars Abbey on Riddarholmen in Stockholm.
Til is thought to mean wooden bridge, specifically the bridge which was built over the inlet below the farmstead at the end of the 13th century. The bridge made journeys to and from Sigtuna and further up in the country significantly easier. The bridge appears to have been important; it is mentioned in the Law of Uppland and a number of hundreds were entrusted with the task of ensuring that the bridge was finished. Proximity to the bridge probably increased the importance of the estate. The name of the place and the farmstead before the bridge was built is unknown.