famn [Sweden]

Plural, famnar. Various Swedish units belonging to the fathom family of units, in original concept the distance between the fingertips of outstretched arms.

1

In Sweden, before 1855, a unit of length. link to a table showing relationships between Swedish units of length. Generally equal to 6 fot = 3 alnar, about 1.781 40 meters (about 5.84 feet), but sometimes, especially in the north of Sweden, 3½ alnar, about 2.0783 m.

The famn was used for measuring the length of reins, hawsers, fences and cargo, as well as the circumference of charcoal stacks.

When used as a unit of length for wood, the famn was legally defined¹ as 3½ alnar in 1530 by King Gustav Vasa (1496 – 1560).

1. Konung Gustaf den förstes registratur. 7... 1530-31.
Series: Handlingar rörande Sveriges historia. Första serien.
Stockholm: 1877.
Page 139.

2

In Sweden, 15th – 20th centuries, various units of capacity used for wood. Also kubikfamn (plural, kubikfamnar). An act of 1 July 1927 abolished the famn as a measure for wood.

Location, period Synonyms Dimensions Commodity Approx. volume
in cubic meters
Karlskrona, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Umeå storfamn, stadsfamn, Stockholms brofamn 8 fot × 6 fot × 6 kvarter softwood 3.77
8 fot × 6 fot × 5 kvarter firewood and hardwood pulp 3.14
province of Blekinge skogsfamn 6 × 6 × 3 fot 2.827
province of Gotland 3½ × 3½ × 1¼ alnar 3.2
province of Småland shingles between 3 and 4
Falun in the province of Dalarna, 1687 6 × 6 × 2½ fot mining wood 2.36
Raseborg in the province of Nyland (present day Finland), mid-16th century 5 × 5 × 3 alnar 15.7
Sala in the province of Västmanland 6 × 6 × 5 fot mining wood 4.71
Salberget in the province of Västerbotten, 1512 6 × 6 × 5 fot firewood used to crack rock in mines* 4.71
6 × 6 × 6 fot for paper pulp and cooking 5.65
6 × 6 × 8 fot for making charcoal 7.54
Viborg, today in the Leningrad Oblast, Russia, late 16th century 6 × 6 × 4 alnar 30.16
Viborg, today in the Leningrad Oblast, Russia, early 16th century häradsfamn, köttfamn, mansfamn 3 × 3 × 3 alnar 7.54

Wood cut from 1556 showing a fire being set against a rock face in a mine.

*In a medieval hard-rock mining technique, fires would be lit against a rock face. When the rock was hot, cold water would be thrown on it, cracking it. Woodcut from Georgius Agricola’s De Re Metallica, 1556.

Elias Wessén.
Medeltida urkunder rörande Stora Kopparberget: Med en inledning av Bertil Boëthius samt med upplysningar om urkundernae sigill av Harald Fletwood.
Series: Monumenta historica Cuprimontana medii aevi.
Stockholm: 1947.

Page 67.

Otto Dress.
Besiktning om järn- och ståltillverkning. 1687.
Published in
Harald Carlborg.
Blad för bergshanteringens vänner.
Örebro, 18, 1925.

Page 52.

Sven Rinman.
Bergwerks lexicon. Vol. 1.
Stockholm: 1788.

Page 481. Access at www.jernkontoret.se/bibliotek/urkunder_och_kallor/bergwerkslexicon/f.php (Retrieved Nov. 2008).

3

In Sweden, 16th – 19th centuries, a unit of land area used for arable and pasture land, = ¹⁄₂₅₆ mål, about 3.17 square meters. Also called a stump (plural, stumpar) or kvadratfamn (square famn).

Ingvar Jonsson.
Jordskatt och kameral organisation i Norrland under äldre tid.
Series: Kungl. Skytteanska samfundets handlingar, 0560-2416; 9.
Umeå, (Länsmuseet): [Solna, Seelig] 1971.

Page 91.

4

In the province of Hälsingland in Sweden, 17th – 19th centuries, a unit of land area used for arable and pasture land, equal to 1 famn × 16 famnar = 3½ alnar × 56 alnar = 16 kvadratfamnar, about 69.1 square meters. Some sources say about 50.72 square meters.

Per Henrik Widmark.
Beskrivning över provinsen Hälsingland hörande till Gävleborgs län.
Bollnäs: Södra och västra Hälsinglands samfund för arkivforskning, 1945,

Page 308.

5

In Åland, then Sweden, now in Finland, 16th century, a unit of capacity used for hay = ¹⁄₆ lass (1 lass being the amount of hay that could be carried in a cart). Also called a famp (plural, fampnar).

Example

6 Fampnar Höö gör eth lass

Fogderäkenskaper.
Finska Riksarkivet, Helsingfors, no. 5, fol. 90.

See also
Adolf Iwar Arwidsson.
Handlingar till upplysning af Finlands häfder.
Stockholm: Norstedt, 1857.

Pages 54-63.

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