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Length Measurement

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Mil

  • An old Swedish mil was (the years 1699 to 1889) = 6000 famnar = 18000 alnar = 36000 fot = 10.688 meters.
  • The mile were divided into 4 fjärdingsväg on either 2672 meters or 4500 alnar. This mil introduced in 1699 as one enhetsmil ("unit mile") and would also represent the distance between two inns.
  • Before 1699 the mil was of different length depending on where in Sweden you were. In Småland a mil was 7.500 meters, 13.000 meters in Västergötland and in Dalarna 15.000 meters. The shortest was the Finnish mil at 6000 meters.

1889 when the metric system was definitively adopted 1 mil (nymil) was = 10 km = 10,000 meters.

Aln

An aln = 2 fot = 4 kvarter = 59,4 cm.

The aln, which was a key measure, ceased to be used as unit of measurement when the metric system was introduced. Aln had counterparts in other countries, but its length varied considerably. In 1605 a national standard for the aln was set. A starting point was the so-called Rydaholmsalnen which now is recognized as rikslikare, a kind of standard or "common for all" aln. The decision was taken by King Karl IX in 1604 in Norrköping. A copy of this aln, Stockholmsalnen, were stored in the Stockholm City Hall.

In 1665 when a uniform measurement system was introduced for the whole of Sweden the aln was a main measure to which all the other length measurements was related (ref. meter today).

Fjärdingsväg

  • A fjärdingsväg = 4500 alnar = 2672 meter.
  • A fjärdingsväg was a quarter of an old Swedish mil of 10,688 meters.

Steg

One steg corresponded to 1/2 famn = 90 cm.

Famn

  • A famn is also an ancient measure of length at sea. A Swedish famn is 6 fot = 3 alnar = 1,78 meters.
  • Famn was used as a measure of the depth established by lodning (sounding?). A British famn is slightly longer, 1.83 meters.
  • Famn has in addition to length also been used as a square measure (unit area) and space dimensions (volume). *Famn has also been used to indicate the amount of firewood.
  • Equivalents of the Swedish famn is also available in other countries, such as English Fathom;

1 English Fathom = 6 feet = 1.8288 m;

Kabellängd

A kabellängd (cable length) was the measurement at sea. A cable length was initially =100 famnar = 178 meters; Later a cable length = 185.2 m = 1 / 10 nautical mile (sjömil, distans).

Stenkast

This measure is related to the length you could throw a medium sized stone. The most common interpretation of a stenkast was 50 steps, usually 40 to 50 meters. A proverb from Småland: Anyone who sees a fight at a stone's throw away cannot give testimony.

Tvärhand

  • 1 tvärhand = 4 tum = 8 - 10 cm.
  • Tvärhand was a normal measurement and was used among others to indicate thickness of the ice, etc.

Fot

  • 1 fot = 1/2 aln = 2 kvarter = 12 tum (verktum) = 29,69 cm.
  • Feet are used primarily in England and the USA, where 1 foot (foot) = 30.48 cm. The English foot-dimension has long been used in Sweden in connection with the timber.

Tum

  • one tum = 1/24 aln = 1/12 fot = 1/6 kvarter = 2,47 cm.
  • Tum is an old length measurement unit which can be traced to the width of a man's thumb. According to the 1665 system 1 inch was (verkstum) = 2.474 cm, ie. 1/12 fot. In the decimal system of 1855 was 1 inch = 2.969 cm, ie. 1/10 fot.
  • Tum is still used in Sweden where 1 inch = 2.54 cm (1/12 foot). The English inch-dimension has also been common in Sweden for the measurement of wood, nails and screws.

Kvarter

1 kvarter = 1/4 aln =6 tum (verkstum) = 14.84 cm.

Fingerbredd

One fingerbredd = 1,85 cm

See Old measures & measurements

Svedish: -
English: -
Finnish: -

Many of the words in the dictionary still lacks english explanatory text. If you want to assist in entering the explanations, please contact


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