Vanishing Visitors at Vikbolandet: Encounters with Mysterious Beings in 1970s Sweden.
The 70s were a glorious time for strange incidents and observations in Sweden. One that intrigued me for some time is a story that was posted by Albert S. Rosales in the Facebook group “Humanoids, UFOs and other strange phenomena”. The simplicity of the account made it even more intriguing because when details are stripped away, a stronger story often emerges. When one digs a bit deeper and more details come to the surface, it turns less intriguing from a paranormal point of view, but still offers an interesting look at how stories, memories, and experiences travel and develop over the years. Let’s first take a look at the original text and go from there:
“A man walking alone in a wooded area was stunned to see several approaching humanoid figures of varying sizes, ranging from 1 m to 1.80m in height, that seemed to be gliding over the ground without any means of propulsion. The humanoids wore tight-fitting dark green diving outfits, round helmets with aerials, and dark visors that covered their faces. They were of slim build and had longer than normal arms. After a minute, they appeared to dissolve into nothingness and disappear.”
You can imagine that my interest went through the roof. So, after some advanced detective work — including, with the help of Tobias Lindgren and Clas Svahn at UFO-Sverige and Anders Liljegren and Sven-Olov Svensson at Archives for the Unexplained, identifying the illustrator and the source of the illustration, and using keywords in old reports — I managed to find the original story with a lot more details. Does this mean it’s not true? Absolutely not. It is true in some sense; I just don’t know in which way.
The story goes like this. It was during the autumn of ’73 or ’74, and Kjell (let’s call him that) had just arrived at Vikbolandet, a beautiful countryside area outside the main city of Norrköping. Kjell was a young man, around 26–27 years old, and on this day, he and his father had planned a visit to their summer cabin, a remote house on the edge of the Karlshäll peninsula facing the stunning Arkösund archipelago. Usually, during the summer, the best way to get there is by boat, but the cold weather made them decide to take the car and park some distance away, at the center of Bråvikens nature reserve, and then walk the rest of the way on the trail leading to the house.
From the parking spot, the trail leads first to a field (this is very likely to be the field), and it was there that Kjell saw something he kept to himself until 1996 when he first reported the observation to Norrköpings UFO-Förening. It was between 9 and 11 am, and the clouds were looming gray above them. For the moment, there was no rain. Kjell and his father were still in the car, not having left it yet, when a loud bang was heard, so powerful they thought a plane had crashed nearby. Well, it was only Kjell who heard the bang as his father was hard of hearing, but it sounded strange and out of place.
Kjell, who was deeply disturbed by the sound and its implications, left the car and started running down the trail that led to the field, 100 meters away, where he thought the bang came from. This part, from the loud bang to finally standing down by the field, wasn’t long, approximately one to one and a half minutes. He then saw something that made him freeze in fear. Down in the field, maybe 200 meters away, he saw a row of skinny “green men,” some long and some short (“like they had children!”), and with seemingly long arms and dome-shaped heads with antennas on! No wonder he got scared, and he was about to get even more scared when the mysterious group stopped, looked at him, and pointed towards him! He noticed they had big black eyes! The whole observation lasted for about two to three minutes, until the alleged aliens (his definition of what he saw) continued their walk, and as they got closer to the edge of the forest, disappeared one by one, “like they entered an invisible UFO.”
Shook up, he returned to his father, still waiting in the car, and a few minutes later, they passed the spot of the observation once again. Nothing unusual was to be found, seen, or heard, but when arriving back at the car five hours later, they had problems starting the car.
During the follow-up investigation, Niklas Ryman talked with Kjell’s neighbor on the peninsula, Håkan, who told him that hunters usually used that field as a passage to hunt moose by “herding” them to a specific spot. Could it be hunters that Kjell saw that morning? I have another idea if I’m going to go the debunking route. Each year up to the early 90s, a big military exercise was set at Vikbolandet. I haven’t been able to find any information about what was going on in 1973 and 1974, but it’s well-documented that a big exercise was held in the era of 1975, with lots of soldiers wearing dome-shaped helmets, green clothes, black protection glasses, and of course, all kinds of weaponry.
Could Kjell’s memory fail him, and the year was 1975? In that case, he and his father would probably have run into both soldiers and equipment — even those that make loud bangs. To be fair, this was nothing Håkan, the neighbor, mentioned in his conversation with Norrköpings UFO-Förening. But if he had a better memory and knew that there wasn’t any exercise during 1973 and 1974 and therefore came to the conclusion that it could have been hunters, maybe even with accompanying children, that Kjell saw and mistook for something more otherworldly after being shook up after hearing the loud bang. Reading the original report with the awareness that the witness had a bias towards aliens makes me wonder if he just saw what he wanted to see. His imagination spun away, drawing the conclusion that the bang was an anomaly, and then took the direction of flying saucers and aliens.
Stripping away his ideas, it’s easier to see soldiers with uniforms, helmets, protection glasses, and equipment — maybe they stopped and gestured to him to stay away, just for his own safety? We will never know for sure, of course, but it was an event that stayed with him for many years. So no matter what, it was important to him — and that’s all that matters. I often say that explanations like this don’t take away the reality of it, as it’s the subject experience that interests me. If it gives something, may it be fun or fear, to the witness, it also means something. I’d like to go back to this, the importance of it, and a possible high-strangeness related hypothesis a bit later. First, I’d like to bring up another incident, which also allegedly happened in 1974. There’s only one source of it, and it might be spiced up to sound more interesting than it really was by the author of that article, but the magical feeling of it makes it a wonderful incident, just not necessarily true in the sense of objective truth.
In what appears to be a letter to UFO-Aktuellt, a woman recounts a remarkable and strange (dare I say magical?) incident that allegedly occurred in August 1974. She owned a cabin a few miles from Stockholm, in the area of Södertörn, where she often went out early in the morning to hunt for berries. Her choice of berry was lingonberry, but the forest was picked clean of these red, sometimes bitter fruits. While roaming the forest for blueberries, she thought to herself, “Imagine there are those who are bored? I’m never bored when I’m alone,” and continued to enjoy the stillness of nature. There weren’t many blueberries either, but she found a couple of mushrooms and ventured deeper into the wilderness, now following an old tractor road.
Suddenly, she heard the faint noise of human voices. She stopped and looked around, surprised by the presence of other people, and so early in the morning? She went out at 4:30 am in the morning to avoid other visitors to this green heaven on earth. The woman turned around and saw, to her surprise, two girls sitting on a log she had just passed. They were enjoying the morning sun, talking and laughing, and eating something that looked like white, soft buns. Confused, she excused herself for not noticing them, but felt the whole thing was very weird. How could she have missed them?
“Don’t worry, no one steps over or past us! We also saw you just now, so that’s it! Hello to you!”, the girls responded, and they seemed as cheerful as when she first saw them. The meeting turned even stranger as the girls, who were both 12 and 13 years old but seemed much more mature and worldly than expected, revealed that they had traveled all over the world and were precocious to a degree that the woman felt was unnatural. When the girls began to repeat things she had thought only to herself as she was entering the forest, it became spooky. The woman, trying not to be too creeped out, continued the conversation with the girls until one of them said, “I think I will pick lingonberries!” Suddenly, the whole area was filled with lingonberries, like a thick carpet of fruit.
“Goodbye! We must meet again! We have so much to talk about! Imagine meeting someone like you, a human, in the forest like this and talking? We didn’t expect that,” one of the girls said while standing on a tree stump. The woman bid her farewell and walked away, but when she turned around, the two girls were gone.
Now, one can debate the credibility of both these stories, especially the lingonberry encounter (the probable author of the orginal text was known for making things up) but in the case of Kjell, I’m sure he experienced something, in his senses. It might have been a misunderstanding of what he saw and heard, but his experience was there and obviously turned out to be very important to him. All respect to that. The second one, what’s called The Lingonberry Encounter, is more difficult to judge. Is it totally made up or based on a real experience? We don’t know because there are no sources or reports left to look closer at, except the original unsigned article in UFO-Aktuellt. But let’s say it’s based on some kind of reality, what can it be? Forest nymphs, as the woman suggested at the end of her letter, or did she meet two girls who just happened to be a bit weird out there in the wild? In the end, in the world of folklore and storytelling, it doesn’t matter in my humble opinion. These two stories are parts of the phenomena itself, at least according to me.
I’d like to call it the Phenoproxy Hypothesis. The phenomenon applies itself, like a layer, on top of existing people, animals, and objects to make itself seen without becoming too evident. It takes, for example, people as proxy characters to communicate either by language or symbols. If this effect comes from the witness itself rather than something external, I don’t know, but by now, I’m pretty sure it’s its own important part of high strangeness. One example is Men in Black, which might be the most common of all.
After an encounter or observation, the witness is on high alert and will, for better or worse, apply — with or without the help of the phenomenon — details, words, and appearances that stray away from normality, our consensus reality. This doesn’t make the experience less real; it’s just another way of communication. And as always, if the witness sees it as scary or uncomfortable (because the event is outside of the norm), it will turn into something frightening or creepy. And on the opposite, see it as something fun, and it will be another amusing part of existence.
Yeah, I’m aware that this is a way to explain something mundane and ordinary as something extraordinary, and still get away with it. In my world of perception, that’s perfectly fine because a magical and strange experience IS important, no matter what. It both makes us use our imagination and triggers more of it, including emotions and, for the moment, maybe a healthy detachment from our normal, boring reality. It adds a little extra spice to our lives, something we need from time to time.
It’s like being busy scrolling on the phone, ending up at a totally different spot than expected, and for a moment, seeing how reality has changed as our minds try to put things together. Or meeting someone unexpected in a place they shouldn’t be and using our imagination to put some logic into it, even if it takes us far away from what we’re used to.
Maybe the phenomenon intends to be seen and heard but still kept hidden?
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of several books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.
“Få bra rapporter när UFO-Sverige slogs rekord” (Pelle Persson & Tomas Eriksson, UFO-Aktuellt, issue 1, 1999)
Original report regarding Vikbolandet fromNorrköpings UFO-Förening, October 23, 1996)
“Dom Töserna var inte av denna Världen” (Anders G. Magnusson [?], UFO-Aktuellt [?], issue 4, 1983)
Humanoids at Vikbolandet (Humanoids, UFOs and other strange phenomena, Albert S. Rosales, May 8, 2022)
The Lingonberry Encounter (Humanoids, UFOs and other strange phenomena, Albert S. Rosales, March 9, 2023)
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of three books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats.