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Sara Månsdotter

Nov 18, 2022


Sara on Sarö. Sara works as a maid on a farm in Bunnström. When she is out milking cows on the island of Nilsö in Lake Bunn, she suddenly becomes ill with vomiting and stomach pains. Two days later she dies and the provincial doctor states that Sara was pregnant, and that the death was probably caused by arsenic poisoning. It cannot be determined whether Sara took arsenic to end her own life or to expel the fetus, but she is considered a “self-waste”. Because of this, she is buried in the forest, on the island where she fell ill, without a gravestone.

In popular speech, the island where Sara is buried is called Sarö. Ö means island in Swedish. The story of Sara on Sarö, the unfortunate maid who became pregnant and was abandoned by the man, lives on through verbal tradition. Over a hundred years after Sara died, in 1970, a memorial service is held at her grave where a priest blesses the site. Nowadays, the grave is marked with a cross and it is not uncommon for fresh flowers to lie there.

Sara Månsdotter’s grave at Sarö. Photographer: Inger Ekengard.

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