The history of the mine

Underground mining since the 12th century.

It began 80 million years ago...

Around 80 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, larger parts of Skåne were covered by a warm and shallow sea teeming with animals and plants. On land, probably small islands in an archipelago-like landscape, dwarf dinosaurs lived, while in the sea, there were creatures we still recognize today such as sharks, octopuses, mussels, and starfish. Here, there were also sea dragons, mosasaurs, gigantic monsters that could grow up to 15 meters long. They, along with plesiosaurs, were the rulers of the Cretaceous Sea. 

The deposits left by the sea and its inhabitants form the fossil-rich limestone ridge stretching from Tykarp/Ignaberga to Kristianstad and Bromölla. The area, which is part of the geological formation known as the Kristianstad Cretaceous Basin, is widely known in the scientific community for its richness in fossils. Researchers have found remains of top predators such as the sharks, mosasaurs, and plesiosaurs, but also fossils of many other animals, including belemnites (cephalopods). It seems that the area, with its islands, bays, and lagoons, acted as a nursery for the predators. The water here was relatively calm, and there was plenty of food for the large marine beasts. In these calm waters, the offspring were born, and they could grow up and learn to hunt before venturing into more dangerous waters.

Limestone quarrying, a long-standing tradition

Early, probably already during the 12th century, people here in the Ignaberga area began to quarry into the mountain through shallow open-pit mines to reach the useful chalk limestone. The limestone was primarily used as building material, including in the construction of Ignaberga's old church, a

Romanesque church building which was completed around 1100.

Over time, the transition was made from shallow open-pit mines to a more pre-industrial mining through underground operations. Near the Ignaberga quarry, which is still active today, several collapsed mines can be found, a clear indication of early underground mining. From the early 1600s to the mid-1700s, there was feverish underground activity. The traces of these mines appear as deep craters in the ground as they used unsafe mining techniques. When miners could no longer stand on the mine floor to extract limestone blocks from the ceiling, ladders or scaffolding were erected. This meant that impressive but unstable church vault-like halls were created, up to 7 meters in height.

During his journey through Skåne in 1749, Carl Linnaeus visited the Vedhygge mine, about 3 km from Tykarpsgrottan. Here, Linnaeus noted that "if the farmers had understood to construct pillars as in other mines, no workers would have been unlucky here". The consequence was that the ceiling height was lowered, and more supporting pillars were left by the farmers. The result of the new mining technique is clearly visible in Tykarpsgrottan. The mine, dating back to the 1750s, and like the other mines in the area collectively owned by the local farmers, has a significantly lower ceiling height and considerably more pillars than the older mines.

A common aspect of underground mining in both the older and younger mines is the choice of tools. In limestone mining, picks and chisels were used, and the traces of these tools can still be seen on pillars and walls today. In the older mines, the marks are asymmetrically placed, unlike the younger mines where straight lines from the cutting tools indicate the extraction of even limestone blocks. The demanding task of chiseling out limestone blocks was the men's job, while women carried the limestone blocks above ground. The amount of limestone extracted was measured in "tjyng" per year. One "tjyng" is said to correspond to approximately 250 liters. By carving lines on pillars and walls, they knew how much limestone each farmer extracted. 

Larger farms had lime kilns, so-called lime ovens, in which the limestone blocks were burned into mortar lime. These kilns were all privately owned, and some of them are still preserved today. The kilns were constructed of dry-laid stone, horseshoe-shaped, and could hold between 10 to 30 m³. After burning, the lime was sold or exchanged for other goods. The price depended entirely on the quality of the lime, where the pure white lime commanded a higher price than the impure gray. Limestone mining was very profitable and provided a good source of income for the local farmers in addition to agriculture.

Times are changing

At the end of the 19th century, underground mining ceased, and mining of a more industrial nature began above ground. In Ignaberga limestone quarry, larger quantities of limestone could be extracted in shorter periods, thus completely displacing underground limestone mining. The amount extracted above ground in one day equaled a year's extraction underground. Today, in Tykarpsgrottan, there remains a 20,000 m² underground labyrinth with chambers, corridors, and hundreds of pillars. Since the 1920s, guided tours for the public have been conducted here.

In recent years, the mine has become a popular filming location for movies and TV series. It was here among other places, that Astrid Lindgren's beloved film about Ronia the Robber's Daughter , Matt, Lovis, Noddle-Pete , and Birk was filmed. The old mine simply became the beer cellarof Matt's fort, where Ronia and Birk meet after being separated by their narrow-minded families. The mine also appears in the classic youth series "Kullamannen" and the TV series "Snapphanar," as well as the popular children's program "Sommarlov" featuring the character "Sommarskuggan." Tykarpsgrottan is also a popular filming location for music videos.