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ARCHAEOLOGY

Unique medieval Venetian coin found in abandoned Swedish port

Archaeologists in Sweden have discovered a gold ducat from early medieval Venice in Elleholm, a once thriving port that has now entirely disappeared.

Unique medieval Venetian coin found in abandoned Swedish port
The ducat shows St Marcus passing over a standard to the doge Andrea Dandalos. Photo: Blekinge Museum
The ducat was minted during the reign of Doge Andrea Dandalos, who ruled the powerful Italian city state from 1343 to 1354.
 
“To find the first coin ever found in Sweden from the medieval Venice here, suggests it was an international trading port,” Marcus Sandekjer, head of Blekinge Museum, told The Local. 
 
The Archbishop of Lund controlled the city from 1450 right up until the reformation in 1536, when it was passed to the Swedish crown. 
 
“Of course when you find coins from Italy in the Archbishop's city, it's tempting to think that it has something to do with ties to Italy and to the Pope,” Sandekjer said. “But that is just a hypothesis.” 
 
On one side of the coin there is an image of St Marcus passing over a standard to the Doge, and on the other there is an image of the prophet Jesus Christ surrounded by an almond-shaped aureole of light, or Mandorla.
 
The city once took up most of the Elleholm island in the middle of the Mörrumsån river in Blekinge, and included the Sjöborg castle and a church. 
 
“It's a fascinating place, just imagine this little city on an island in the middle of a river,” Sandekjer said. “It was very compact.” 
 
The city was destroyed at least twice, once in 1436 during the Engelbrekt rebellion against the Kalmar Union, and once in 1524 during Søren Norby's Scanian rebellion. 
 
The ongoing dig, a collaboration between the Blekinge Museum and Kulturen, a folk history museum in Lund, is the first on the site since 1924. 
 
The city's disappearance has been linked to the Reformation, which stripped the Archbishop of most of his power, as well as to the development of the nearby port of Karlshamn, and to the changing requirements for a successful trading port. 
 
“This is a small island in the river, upstream, which means they could never go in with ships to the actual island,” Sandekjer explained. “It's a medieval solution for a city to put it upstream.” 
 
As trading volumes increased, ports moved directly to the sea, he said. 
 
Sandekjer said a dendrochrological study of the remains of the bridge to the island had dated it back to 1340, indicating that the site had hosted a port for at least 100 years before it was formally granted city status.   
 
The archaeologists have also found a lead seal from Flanders, dating to the first half of the 14th century. 
 
“It was probably a seal for cloth or clothing,” Sandekjer says. “So that shows us that it was an active place before we knew that it was active.” 

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MONEY

How you can lower the monthly cost of your Swedish mortgage

It’s no secret that mortgages in Sweden have become more expensive over the last year or so, as interest rates have risen following high inflation. But did you know there’s a way you can lower your monthly mortgage cost?

How you can lower the monthly cost of your Swedish mortgage

Essentially, when you take out a loan in Sweden, the government gives you a discount on the interest you pay, in the form of a tax rebate.

This doesn’t include interest paid on all types of loans – for example, student loans are not included – but it does include your mortgage.

In order to qualify for the discount, referred to as ränteavdrag (interest deduction) or skatteavdrag (tax deduction), you need to fulfil some requirements: 

  • You’ve paid income tax and at least 1,000 kronor in interest in the last taxation year
  • You have a capital deficit (meaning that your interest costs must be greater than any capital income you’ve earned through interest or dividends)
  • You are either partly or wholly responsible for the loan or mortgage in question

If there are two of you who are both named on the mortgage who fulfil these requirements, you’ll each receive 50 percent of the total tax rebate.

The interest deduction is automatically subtracted from your yearly tax and listed in your yearly declaration, if you fulfil the requirements, meaning you’re likely to get it back as a lump sum when tax season rolls around in April.

How much do I get?

The actual sum you get back varies depending on how much tax and interest you’ve paid during the year, but there are some general calculations which can give you a guideline of what you might get.

You’ll get 30 percent of your interest costs back on the first 100,000 kronor you pay in interest over a year, and 21 percent on anything over 100,000 kronor. 

If there are two of you, you each have your own individual tax deduction, even if you’re paying the same loan, so as a pair you’ll get back 30 percent on the first 200,000 kronor, as well as 21 percent on anything over this figure.

To figure out how much you’ll get, you need to first find out how much interest you’ve paid during the year your declaration covers and subtract this figure from your capital income earned through interest or dividends.

If your figure is negative, that means you can subtract this figure from your tax paid during the year. Bear in mind that if you owe tax, then your interest deduction amount will be used to pay it back first, lowering the total amount you receive.

You can also change the proportion of the deduction applied to each partner if you share a mortgage, dividing it 60/40 or 70/30, for example, if you don’t share the mortgage 50/50. You can do this through your bank or by manually changing the figures in your tax declaration.

I don’t understand. How does this make my monthly mortgage payments cheaper?

Here’s where something called skattejämkning comes in. This literally translates as “tax equalisation”, and it’s a way you can spread your tax rebate for interest costs out over a year, lowering your mortgage costs each month rather than of getting a lump sum in the form of a tax rebate during tax declaration season.

In order to equalise your tax, you’ll need to contact the Tax Agency directly, filling out a form with the catchy title of SKV 4302 – Jämkning (ändring av preliminär A-skatt) or using their Jämkning online service.

To do this, you’ll need to have in-depth figures on things like your salary, pension payments, sick pay and any other income like unemployment benefit or maternity or paternity payments, as well as capital income and any business income for the tax year you’re applying for, as well as your expected income for the rest of the year.

If your application is accepted, the Tax Agency will tell your employer to subtract less tax from your payslip each month, effectively meaning that you get your tax rebate for interest costs back in your monthly pay instead of getting it paid out all at once.

Bear in mind that if you do go down this route it’s important that your calculations are correct. If you accidentally overestimate your interest payments or underestimate your tax owed, you could end up being hit with a hefty tax bill once your declaration comes through.

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