A primstav is an old wooden calendar-stick, marking the days of the year and important events. It splits the year into two equal halves: summer and winter.
Category page: history
10 July is the feast day of Saint Knut – Knutsok – and marks the beginning of the haymaking season – høyonna – in the old Norwegian farming calendar.
Skårfast is a Norwegian adjective that means that a person or an animal is stuck on a steep mountain- or cliff-side shelf, and in need of being rescued.
Lystring is a Norwegian verb that means catching fish or other water creatures in the dark, using a fire torch to attract the fish and a multi-pronged spear.
Skjemat is a Norwegian noun that means food eaten with a spoon – often before or after the main course at dinner. It could be porridge, soup, dessert, and more.
Uekte and ekte are Norwegian adjectives that in one context means illegitimate and legitimate – as in a child born outside or inside a marriage.
Åre is a Norwegian noun that means an open fireplace, placed on the floor in the middle of a room. The smoke goes up and out through a vent in the roof – the ljore.
Myrmelk is a Norwegian noun that means milk conserved in a container buried in a mountain peat bog, left there for herders or others to drink at a later stage.
Kløvhest is a Norwegian noun that means packhorse. Well into our own time, the Norwegians used horses to help transport goods through a challenging landscape.
Bondegård is a Norwegian noun that means farm. In informal speech and in many dialects, people only use the single word gård or gard.
The word ski comes from the Old Norse language, with the meaning cleft wood. The old Norwegians were master hunters, and have been skiing for over 5000 years.
On the historical Norwegian farm, the skoklefallsday is the last day of planting in the spring. Literally, it means the day that the shafts attached to the workhorse’s harness come off.
In olden Norway, the farm-animals were sent off to the mountains and forests all summer. With them came a herder to guard them, and a maid to turn their milk into cheese and butter.
A kipe is a tall, woven basket, often made of twigs from the birch tree. It was carried on the back, and typically used when carrying loads in a landscape full of steep fields and paths.
It is said that all people are equal in Heaven. But the historical churchyard shows us that no such equality applied here on Earth.
At Easter in 1906, renowned Norwegian photographer Anders Beer Wilse took this series of photos on a trip with a group of friends.
Budrått is a Norwegian noun that means the output of milk products on a farm – such as cheese and butter. The word is often associated with what was produced during the summer on the seasonal mountain or forest pasture farm – the seter.
In Scandinavia, agriculture first appeared in the Stone age – around 2400 BC. The early farmers cleared their land by using simple tools and fire.
When the industrial revolution brought machinery to the Norwegian farms, it didn’t just change the old working methods, it also changed the layout and look of the farmland.
In 1836, milkmaid Kari Moen from the community of Sauherad in Telemark, Norway, was attacked by a bear. She almost lost her life that day.
Kantslått is a Norwegian noun that means (1) the grass that is cut along the edges of a field, a road, etc. or (2) the actual process of cutting this grass. Traditionally, the grass was used as animal fodder.
The Heddal stave church – stavkirke – is Norway’s largest remaining building of its kind. It is a woodwork masterpiece, with a history that stretches back more than 800 years.
The traditional Norwegians are drawn to their cabins, whether it be in the mountains, in the forest, or by the sea. Some would say that they are a people obsessed.
Our foremothers were hardworking and inventive. Here you can read more about how the laundry was done on a Norwegian mountain farm in the late 1800s.
Uff da! is a Norwegian interjection, often used to express sympathy. For example when a child falls over: Uff da! Slo du deg? – meaning Poor you! Did you hurt yourself?
Skibladner is one of the world’s oldest paddle steamers still in regular service. She was launched in 1856, and sails on Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa.
With the birth of the new Norwegian national state in 1814, came big ideas. And one of them was to establish better transportation systems.
In the old Norwegian farming society, a husmann was a man who was allowed to build his home on a small section of a farm’s land, and pay with his labour instead of rent.
In my childhood, life was simple. And the small joys of Christmas lifted our spirits – and delivered us safely into the new year.
The traditional Sami houses, the goahti, were in use until well into our own time. Anders Larsen tells us how he remembers them from the coastal Sami communities in northern Norway.
In the coastal districts of the old Norway, a strandsitter was a beach dweller – who rented a small piece of land – but owned the house he built on it. His livelihood was usually connected to the sea.
In this post you will find a list of Norway’s 15 main historical eras – from the ice age to our modern day.
The land that we call Norway was once covered by a massive sheet of ice. In places, the glaciers were as much as 3,000 metres thick.
The Stone age | 10,000 - 1800 BC When the ice finally melted, plants and animals settled more long-term - and with...
With the Bronze age came a new and important phase in human history and development: mankind learned how to make tools and other objects from a metal they called bronze.
In Norway, the first traces of iron date back to 400-300 BC. The country has significant iron resources, and making tools and weapons from this new metal was a significant step forward.
With the High middle ages came expansion and progress. But everything was about to change, in the most brutal way imaginable.
After the Black Death, it took the Norwegian communities centuries to recover. And soon, the country would also lose its independence.
In the year AD 1537, King Christian 3 of Denmark-Norway embraced the Lutheran Reformation, and the Norwegians went from being Catholics to Protestants. The king confiscated the Catholic Church’s considerable wealth, a welcomed addition to the royal coffers. Norway more or less ceased to exist as a sovereign state and became a province under Denmark.
17 May 1814 is regarded as the birth of the modern-day Norwegian state. But it took almost another hundred years before the Norwegians could declare complete independence.
In this period, Norway was still primarily a nation of farmers, fishermen and hunters. In AD 1801, 90% of the population lived in rural areas.
Norway’s full independence came in AD 1905, and was the culmination of a process that had lasted for several decades.
On 18 November 1905, after a supportive referendum, the Norwegian parliament unanimously elected the Danish Prince Carl as the country’s new king.
On 9 April 1940, German forces attacked Norway in the early hours of the morning. The Norwegian armed forces attempted to stave off the attack, but they were in no way prepared for this monumental task.
After the end of World War 2, the Norwegians all took part in lifting their country well and truly into the 20th century.
During the AD 1970s, both an increased female participation in the labour market, and the green movement, were causes firmly added to the agenda. There was a heightened focus on maternity leave, access to kindergarten, and maternity benefits.
With a growing population and public sector, Norway pushed through significant reforms in several areas: public structure and organisation, welfare, health care, tax, policing, public services, and more.
In the olden days, people dressed up warmly and got out onto the fjord or lake to catch their Sunday dinner. Enjoy!
One of the oldest Norwegian instruments is the birch trumpet. But is it really an instrument at all – or did it originally have a completely different purpose?
What beautiful needlework. A bonnet from the collections of Slottsfjellsmuseet – in the city of Tønsberg.
On the historical Norwegian farm, winter feed for the domesticated animals was a precious resource. Sometimes it was harvested and temporarily stored far away from the farm.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Here are some examples of how the old Norwegians used Mother Nature’s very own remedies to cure their ailments.
To make sure he could tide the animals over the long and cold winter, the historical Norwegian farmer utilised all available resources.
In a cold country like Norway, warm clothing is essential. This is a refined and old version of a woollen sweater from the district of Setesdal.
In 1935, Aslaug Engnæs published a guidance book on how to milk the cow.
When there were no makeshift or permanent dwellings nearby, the Sami hunters and herders sometimes slept under the open sky.
In 1997, His Majesty King Harald V of Norway came to the Norwegian Sami Assembly with an essential and overdue apology.
The Norwegian landscape is wild and beautiful. And it is a lot more than just fjords and mountains.
The oldest wooden buildings in Norway are almost 1000 years old – like Urnes stave church in Luster. How come these buildings do not rot away and disappear?
Langfjordbotn – in Norway’s northernmost region Finnmark – was the birthplace of Oluf Røde, born in 1889.
The wild ocean world of Værøy in Lofoten, Norway, was the birthplace of Mimmi Benjaminsen – born in 1894. Here are some of her childhood memories.
For the old Norwegians, making butter was simply a way of preserving the fresh summer milk – turning it into a type of food that could be stored.
Here is a collection of some wonderful vintage photos, showing a handful of Norwegians and their lives.
A photo is a snapshot of history – and a story and a history lesson in itself.
Old objects tell stories, silent stories about a time gone by.
Some of the beautiful Norwegian wooden stave churches are almost 1000 years old. Today, there are 28 of them left.
Watch some lovely vintage photos of mankinds’s many good friends.
Some vintage photos – and more to come.
The old Norwegian farm needed hundreds of litres of water every single day: for food-making, cleaning, and human and animal consumption.
Here are 12 historical photos representing the fascinating Sami culture – with deep roots in the Norwegian and Nordic landscape.
The rose painted chests of Norway – a treasure that will live for centuries to come.
The old Norwegian farming society was a self-sufficient and balanced world. Coins and notes were all but an alien concept.
With this old photograph in my hand I have set myself a task: how much information can I find in Norwegian online archives based on what the photo tells me?
A kjenge is a drinking bowl used in the old Norwegian farming society – usually with two handles – carved and hollowed out from one piece of wood.
The first half of the 1900s came with a momentous change to Norwegian society. The old ways of the ancient hunting and farming culture were rapidly dying.
Folklore and old folk tales often depict The Black Death in the shape of an ashen-faced old woman. Her name was Pesta.
The first half of the 1900s was a time of enormous change in Norwegian society. It was then that a young boy experienced a peculiar family custom.
The Black Death – mother of all plagues – ravaged humankind in the mid-1300s. A Norwegian scholar takes us through the lead up to the disaster.
In 1942, Hans Hyldbakk wrote the history of the local cotter’s holdings in Surnadal, Nordmøre, Norway. The book was updated in 1966.
Skodje sogelag and Louis Giske wrote the history of the two Sortehaug farms and its inhabitants back in 1986.
In this post, we take a look at the layout of the Norwegian farm and its surroundings – and how the land and its resources were utilised.
The hour of twilight is when the daylight starts to disappear – before it is completely dark. In the old Norwegian farming society, this was a time for rest.
Per O. Rød wrote the history of the Stornæve farm and its inhabitants back in 1968. Decades earlier, several children of Stornæve had emigrated to the US.
Once you start taking an interest in the old Norwegian farming and family history, then the people of the past start coming to the fore.
It was midsummer 1895. An older man was found drifting in the fjord just outside Moss, Norway – shot in the temple with a revolver. Who was he?
Like all buildings on the old Norwegian farm, the stabbur had a clear purpose: it was a building designed for the storage of food.
Are you hailing from Sykkylven in Møre og Romsdal, Norway? Well, then you might be related to the great film and television icon that was James Arness.
For more than a thousand years, Norwegian farmers sent their livestock to feed in the forests and the mountains. Today, this way of life has almost disappeared.