Self-Tribute Stone of 'Bagga-Sven' – Ballingslöv, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

Self-Tribute Stone of 'Bagga-Sven'

Ballingslöv, Sweden

A confident and eccentric goat farmer boldly proclaimed his honor with an inscription on this woodland stone. 

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Sven Persson (1861-1928), a self-assured goat farmer known as “Bagga-Sven” or “Baggen” (“The Ram”), left behind a legacy that defies convention. In 1906, he inscribed a tribute to himself on a naturally flat upright stone near his cottage in the forest outside Ballingslöv in southern Sweden. The immodest inscription reads: “Memory of Laborer Sven Persson, The Wisest in the Christian Religion and the Greatest Astronomer in the World.”

Alongside his role as a shepherd, Sven also wrote three self-published books, notably The Right Textbook on How Humans and Children Shall Live on Earth, which served as comprehensive guides locally. In his works, he blended religious doctrine, astronomy, and practical advice, advocating for sexual discretion and compassionate animal care, among other topics. Sven strongly insisted on following his teachings to avoid “rheumatic conditions and nervousness and eventual insanity.”

Page after page, Sven’s exhortations filled the text, repeatedly dictating what actions to take and, more importantly, to avoid. The following quote exemplifies his echoing and dogmatic tone: “It is a grievous, grievous, grievous, grievous, grievous, grievous, grievous sin if men engage in any improper acts with what they possess in their trousers, utilizing pork, bottles, or similar objects, for then they shall suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer here on earth.”

Some of Sven’s erratic beliefs aligned with the strict traditional norms of the era, while many others diverged. For instance, he staunchly opposed certain phenomena, deeming it “sinful” to place toads on ant stacks in hopes of luck in love, viewing men riding braided horses as “manifestations of evil,” and condemning the crocodiles in India for their “horrible” treatment of humans. Although genuinely interested in astronomy, Sven struggled to accurately grasp the relative sizes of the planets.

Despite facing adversity, including the confiscation of his books and a brief period in a mental hospital, Sven remained unwavering in his self-confidence. He actively sought a Nobel Prize nomination and attempted to contact influential figures such as the Emperor of Japan and the Pope. Additionally, he advocated for translations of his works into all languages, emphasizing the importance of accuracy to avoid invoking the wrath of the “chief devil of all adders” upon translators.

Sven Persson’s quirks only add to his captivating persona, blending intellect, eccentricity, and a hint of morality in equal measure. Thanks to his self-commemorated stone (and online archive of his scanned old books), the memory of this local character and pioneering “self-help guru” continues among the community today.

Know Before You Go

The stone of "Bagga-Sven" rests in the woods, marked by coordinates 56°13’55.9″N 13°51’52.3″E, just a few minutes drive north of Ballingslöv village in Hässleholm municipality, Skåne county. Accessible by car, but due to parking constraints, drivers should seek informal parking areas along the nearby narrow country lane (it's advisable to check Google Street View beforehand), followed by a brief walk.

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May 22, 2024

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