Svärjarehålorna (The Swearer's Holes) – Tofta, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

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Svärjarehålorna (The Swearer's Holes)

Tofta, Sweden

Is the centuries-old enigma of these mysterious "perjurer's footprints," where nothing ever grows, attributed to natural phenomena or to the realm of folklore? 

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On a grassy patch next to a winding farmland road in southern Sweden, lies a row of about 16 peculiar holes resembling deep footprints. Marked with a sign that says: “THE SWEARER’S HOLES. CENTURIES-OLD. SURROUNDED BY LEGEND,” they evoke intrigue. Despite the lush greenery that envelops the area, nothing has grown within these holes for generations. Some consider them sacred, while others believe them to be cursed.

A legend, with printed records dating to 1745, tells of two farmers disputing land. They stood at the location where the holes are today and both swore oaths claiming the land beneath their feet. One farmer attempted to deceive by bringing soil from his home concealed in his shoes. As punishment, he began sinking into the ground, causing him to leap aside repeatedly, until he retracted his false oath. Since then, the footprints have remained.

In addition to the popular legend, A somewhat less familiar tale proposes that the holes are imprints left by jurors who stood in a solemn line facing the ancient parish church, falsely swearing oaths of truth. As a result, an innocent man was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for manslaughter.

It’s recounted that efforts to eradicate the “perjurer’s footprints” and cultivate the land have been unsuccessful, as the tracks persistently reappear. Reports also assert that weeds never take root within the small depressions, rainwater doesn’t accumulate, and filling the holes with sand and gravel during the day proves futile, as they inexplicably empty themselves overnight.

In 2002, the local newspaper Kristianstadsbladet submitted soil samples from the mysterious holes for analysis, but yielded typical results. A horticulturist stated that it was impossible to scientifically explain why the soil in the holes has remained barren for centuries, even though the same soil placed in a pot in their agriculture laboratory exhibited normal germination ability.

The enduring legend and physical presence of these infertile holes inspire both speculation and awe. Whether attributed to divine intervention, natural occurrences, or something more mysterious, the enigma of the Swearer’s Holes remains captivating. 

Know Before You Go

The footprint-like holes, accessible around the clock, are situated next to a rural road between the tiny villages of Tofta and Tviggasjö, north of Hässleholm and east of Bjärnum in Skåne county. It's advisable to visit during daylight hours due to the absence of streetlights. A car is required for transportation, and while no designated parking is available, roadside parking is an option.

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