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Ömse sidor om vägen; Allén och landskapet i Skåne 1700-1900

Both Sides of the Road: Avenues and the Lanscape in Scania 1700-1900
  • Patrik Olsson
Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Svenska
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Skogs- och lantbrukshistoriska meddelanden
Volym: 59
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Kungliga Skogs och Lantbruks Akademien


This thesis is about avenues (tree-lined roads – in Swedish alléer). Avenues are a characteristic landscape element in many parts of Scania. This is an object created by man with a clear visual effect in the landscape. The avenue is also something which is both nature and culture, a man-made object from nature.

The purpose of the thesis is to describe, analyse and discuss the historical geography of avenues in Scania during the period 1700–1900. Important aspects to consider are the physical and morphological development of the landscape and also how people have conceived the landscape during the study period. How has man viewed landscape? The thesis discusses the topic of landscape and power. Important questions are: Why have avenues been planted along roads? When did this start and how has it developed? Where were avenues planted and what types of species have been used. In order to deepen our understanding, more philosophical questions have also been addressed. What practical, symbolic and aesthetic reasons have been found? Have these aspects changed through time and do they differ depending on the character of the landscape?

The thesis interprets the avenues by studying them from their practical aspects as well as their aesthetic and symbolic meanings. Avenues form a dialectical relationship and this is vital for understanding avenues and the reasons why they were planted and maintained. I argue that unless the avenue is studied in order to understand its practical meaning together with its aesthetic meaning, the avenue will not be fully understood. The thesis shows that these two aspects are often combined, and when one of them is lacking or the balance is not even enough; the avenue runs a great risk of disappearing. It is also important that the avenue is studied as part of a whole. By this I mean that unless you understand the landscape in which the avenue is planted and managed, you will not fully understand why the avenue was planted, why it has been managed in a specific way, why it starts at a certain point. It also pinpoints the fact that if the avenue is not considered, the complexity of the landscape with its historic dimensions will never be fully grasped. The avenue and the landscape are interdependent. The avenue is not cut out of the landscape in order to be studied. It is a part of the whole at the same time as the avenue itself is a story.

The etymology shows that the history of the word is connected with gardens and parks. This means that when roads became tree-lined, a specific word for the new phenomenon did not exist. Instead a descriptive phrase became common, Ömse sidor om vägen, meaning “on both sides of the road”. A description would therefore speak of a road with trees on both sides of the road, as an allé!

The results of the study show that only a few avenues existed around the year 1700, which is the chronological starting point of the thesis. The first half of the eighteenth century saw only a minor number of avenues planted, whereas during the second half, starting around 1760; avenues were planted in greater numbers. The most common type of tree in the first era of Scanian avenues was willow. Its time and place of planting were determined by events occurring in the landscape, the most common of which was when a land reform, often an enclosure, was implemented in order to rationalize the agricultural landscape. This clearly implies that the avenue was subordinated to activities in the landscape. However, for various reasons, many avenues failed, especially in the landscape of the villages, and at the beginning of the nineteenth century avenues existed primarily in estate landscapes and around some towns. At the beginning of the nineteenth century avenues were once again planted in greater numbers in the landscape of the villages. This time they seem to have survived to a greater degree.

An important aspect connected with the history of roads and avenues is that it was the farmers that had to maintain roads in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This was done by dividing the roads into lots (väglotter). A farmer in this system could have 50 metres of road to maintain 500 metres away from the village. The road-lot was marked by stones (väghållningsstenar). The road-lots are an important feature connected with avenues, as the county governor wanted the farmers to plant trees along their lot, on both sides of the road.

The primary finding of the thesis might be that the avenue in the future should be considered as much more than two rows of trees planted along a road. It is a story of the landscape and a feature of importance for our identity. By paying attention to the historical geography of the avenue, the landscape as a whole can be read in a new sense with a new understanding.


Språk- och litteraturcentrums (SOL) hörsal, Helgonabacken 12, Lund
  • Hans Antonson (F.D.)


  • Human Geography
  • Avenue
  • tree-lined road
  • landscape
  • aesthetics
  • historical geography
  • Scania.


  • Tomas Germundsson
  • ISSN: 1402-0386
  • ISBN: 978-91-86573-26-3

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