Skigard | means wooden fence in Norwegian | Norway

Skigard is a Norwegian noun that means wooden fence. It is made of split tree trunks, using simple tools. Fence making and mending was a task for early summer.
A skigard at Anno Norsk skogmuseum in Elverum, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Øyvind Holmstad - wikimedia.org cc by-sa.
By LA Dahlmann

Pronunciation

Skigard

The grammar

A compound word made up of: ski + gard | noun | masculine | the indefinite form: en skigard (a skigard) | the definite form: skigarden (the skigard).

What does the word mean?

Ski: means in this context the split wooden trunk of a young tree.
Gard: means in this context a fence. The word comes from the Old Norse word garðr, which means fenced in land, fortified site, farm, garden.
Skigard: means a fence made of split wooden tree trunks.

Similar or related words

Steingard: means a stone fence.
Gjerde: means fence. This word is used in a more general way about fences, and the skigard is also a gjerde. A gjerde can be made of wood, stone, and other materials. Gjerde comes from the Old Norse word gerði, which again comes from garðr (see above). The word often comes with a prefix to indicate the type of fence: for example, steingjerde, which means a stone fence.

More on the traditional context

Simple tools

The early fence-makers only had simple tools to their disposal, and the way the skigard is made reflects this reality. Tree trunks from young trees were split into two or more lengths, and erected in a tilted – or upright – position.

Damaged by heavy snow

During the winter, large amounts of heavy snow often damaged the wooden fences. Fence making and mending was often a task performed during the Håbolla-season, which is the period between the hectic spring period – våronna – and the haymaking period – høyonna.

Hard work

Building and maintaining wooden fences is hard work. Historically, the farmer primarily built fences around fields that needed protection from both wild and domesticated animals.

Examples from books and stories

Per Sulåmo Fortelling etter fedrene – minne etter mødrene 1989
Utseendet på våre skigarder – likt med anna menneskeverk – kan nok ha tatt seg variert ut – både i kvalitet og utførelse. Gjerdebygging var imidlertid ikke ei vilkårlig opprausing av virke, det rådet bestemte systemer for bygginga.
The appearance of our skigards – just like with any other human construction – may have varied in both quality and workmanship. However, fencing was not an arbitrary pile-up of timber, there were specific systems used for its construction.

Ove Arbo Høeg Eineren i norsk natur og tradisjon 1996
I 1802 hadde Hvaler prestegård 11 km skigard som måtte fornyes og vedlikeholdes.
In 1802, the Hvaler parsonage had 11 km of skigard that had to be renewed and maintained.

Sources: Nasjonalbiblioteket nb.no | Einar Haugen’s Norwegian-English dictionary | Det Norske Akademis ordbok | Bokmålsordboka and Nynorskordboka.