The town of Nora, 24 km north-west of Örebro lies in the mining and ironworking region of the Bergslagen that was for centuries one of the principal sources of Sweden’s wealth. Pershyttan, 3 km south of the centre of Nora, is a former ironworking and mining village that since 2004 has been a 128 ha cultural reserve.
There is evidence of mining at Pershyttan from the twelfth century and of ironworking from the fourteenth. The last mines in the community closed in 1967. The surviving blast furnace, in which charcoal was used as the fuel, is one of the best-preserved in Europe. It dates from 1856, but was rebuilt in 1896, modernised in 1940 and worked until 1953. There are remains of many mines, the most important of which are the Lock Gruva (Lock Mine) that closed in 1909 where visitors are able to venture 45 m underground and the Storgruvan (Large Mine) which is used for researching techniques for establishing bases on the moon. Other structures that survive include the Våghuset (weighing house) which is the meeting point for guided tours, a spectacular water-power system in which an 11.2 m diameter water wheel powers a rod drive system that extends or 200 m a wheel house of 1828 and a school of 1849.
Pershyttan bruk was not controlled by an aristocratic landowner but by the ‘Bergsmännen’ or peasants who occupied its farmhouses. Its appearance is much less formal that that of such communities as Engelberg built around manor houses. The miners’ farmhouses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are distinguished by cast-iron chimney pipes topped with crowns.
There is a visitor centre where visitors can register for guided tours which is essential if they wish to enter the Lock Gruva or the ironworks. The centre also provides guidance on nature trails and mountain bike trails.