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What is a Tå?

”Tå”s, settlements inhabited mainly by the landless poor and the elderly, were once found in many places in Sweden. Today, however, there is none better preserved than Åsle Tå.

Until the ”Laga skifte” land reforms of 1841-1843, Åsle village was situated north of the Kolaforsen stream. South of the stream was an area of land that was originally intended to be used as a -watering hole for the cattle of the village. Cattle were also assembled here before being driven onto common -grazing land. As time went on, this area, which was known as the ”Tå”, was used for another purpose: people who didn’t have their own land were allowed to build cottages on it. Maps from the early 18th century show a number of houses in the area. Church records indicate that at that time the cottages were inhabited mainly by elderly folk. In 1744, the first baby was born in the Tå, which indicates that younger families had started to settle there.

The Tå reached its peak in terms of numbers around 1880. At that time -there were 85 people living in 20 dwellings. Of these, 35 were under the age of 16. After that time the number of inhabitants decreased, mainly as a result of emigration to America and industrialisation. Young people left the Tå in the largest numbers. By the early part of the 20th century only 10 elderly folk remained. If the local heritage society hadn’t been set up in 1923 and decided at that time to preserve the remaining cottages, this Tå settlement would have vanished too.

In its heyday, all kinds of craftsmen and labourers lived in the Tå, offering their services to surrounding farms. And, if there was no work to be had, the farms had a social responsibility towards them.

The names of the cottages have changed with their owners. That’s why the same cottage is often known by different names.