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Numedal Valley in Norway

Numedal Valley

medieval stabbur in norway

Since medieval times, one of the main routes Traders and Pilgrims used to traverse Norway between Oslo and Bergen, was via the Numedal Valley, which stretches from Kongsberg in the south, to Geilo and the Hardangervidda Plateau, in the North west.

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Hardangervidda

Due to this long history, Numedal has one of Norway’s most concentrated collections of medieval buildings and artefacts, comprising over 40 heritage timber buildings dating from the Middle Ages. www.visitmiddelalderdalen.no

norwegian stabbur

The Norwegian Stabbur

By necessity, Norwegians had to find an effective way to store food over a long harsh winter and designed a uniquely shaped log ‘Stabbur’, or food storage house, that would prevent food from spoiling, or being eaten by mice and rats.

In latter times however, the visitor to the Numedal Valley will find that most of these historic Log buildings have been converted into authentic and traditional guest lodgings.

numedal valley norway
Nordli farm Stabbur, where I spent a night

You can sleep the night in one of these beautiful Stabburs, some which contain walls and everyday objects that have been decorated with the traditional Norwegian Art known as Rosemaling, in a style peculiar to the Numedal Valley.

medieval buildings on norwegian farm
A medieval Stabbur in the Numedal Valley

The highest number of Stabburs of any Norwegian valley are located in Numedal. And if that is not enough medieval history for you, the Valley also is home to no less than four Stave churches.

Rollag Stave Church

The Rollag Stave church is one of the better known Stave Churches in Numedal, but as all are off the main highways, they are a little hard to find. ‘Rollag Stavkirken‘ is located a few kilometres north of the village Rollag, in the Numedal Valley. It was probably originally built in the second half of the 12th century, though not all of it is original.

Initially, the church has been a simple church with a rectangular nave. First mentioned in 1425, it was rebuilt around 1660 into a cruciform church. Around 1760, the church was extended to the west.

Early Rosemaling and Hanseatic Art

The walls of Rollag Stave Church are adorned with fruit and biblical motives, which were painted in 1683, and the forerunner to the more traditional forms of Rosemaling. This was following on from the reformation. The close ties with the Hanseatic countries is exemplified in the religious figures of Mary with child, which originated in the German city of Lubeck, around the 1500’s.

Rollag Stave Kirke

The baptismal font dates from the middle ages whilst the altar dates from 1670. The blue lattice like structure in the left of the above photo is known by the archaic term which translates as: Wife’s or Widow’s ‘cage.’

Shocking as it may seem, women were seen as property in medieval times and as such, if a married Priest passed away, the next Priest assigned to that Parish, would inherit not only the Church and its land, but the Widow and any children as well! Times have changed!

Forestwood Rosemaling
Original photo
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99 thoughts on “Numedal Valley in Norway”

      1. You will see a lot more too. I recommend starting at Trondheim, https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/tag/trondheim/ and then head south through Andalsnes, to Balestrand, Hardanger and the fjord country to Bergen. Then depending on the season, you could take the Norway in the Nutshell route by car or train via Voss and Stalheim (which I have written about here https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/on-top-of-the-world-in-norway/ to Oslo. You could even incorporate the Swedish Bohuslan coast which is a 2 hour drive south east from Oslo. Lillehammer is north of Oslo and worth a look if you are intent on seeing snow. Have fun planning.

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      1. Oops.. ..I didn’t pay the 5 zloty and feel quite bad about that!!! Ignorant Aussie tourist that I am!! Can’t read Polish.
        Zakopane is very dear to my heart too. I love the architecture, the scenery, food and culture there. I feel some kind if strong connection to the place. What did you buy at the market?

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      2. I’m sure nobody noticed 🙂 I went there over a year ago and bought beautifully knitted table cover, wooden coasters, piggy bank and ashtray (for a gift). I would love to get more staff. However, just had a hand baggage. Zakopane is a very unique place. Food is amazing, as everything else.

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      3. I bought some of the traditional painted scarf, a beautiful white linen jacket, and a wooden tray with stand so you can have breakfast in bed. Think also some other small wooden objects. I think we both need to take a spare suitcase next time. Did you try the smoked sheep’s cheese?

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    1. Thank to Sue for your kind comment. I have lots to tell about Norway. yes the designs are similar to that of Switzerland. The Swiss had the ingenious idea of adding a nice balcony, no doubt so they could take on the amazing scenery of the mountains??

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      1. So nice to have a friendship that had endured for so long. I too had Norwegian penfriends in the days when one wrote letters and have visited many of them. It was a very special experience! Something I would never had had as a tourist.

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    1. The wife wasn’t like the fairy tale version M-R!! Lol! A Stave church is a type of Norwegian architecture from the close of the Viking age – around 1100. A stave is a short wooden planks, a bit like shingles but thinner and more rectangular. The building itself has a central post and the stave hang on the outside with not a single nail used in the construction. Think Lord of the Rings or do a quick Google search. There are only 28 left in Norway from many hundreds in years gone by, as some have burnt down. Some satanic nutters took to deliberately burning them down at one point in their sick rituals.
      The churches are really beautiful.

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      1. It’s said we must have the dark side of humanity to offset the light. Why it has to be offset is beyond me.
        Thanks for this, Amanda – I had thought of a stave as being a sort of post with a sharp end !

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      1. That will be good to see a bit more Amanda 🙂 I would but I have so much I want to do travelling. Norway (Scandinavia) is on the list it is just the funds that will stop me doing all the places in this world I want to go to

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      2. Tell me about it busyboy. It takes the better part of a week for me to go there and back with time differences and layovers. So there is the time factor as well as the cost. It makes Australians contemplate visitng a lot of destinations when we actually get over there to make the trek worthwhile.

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      3. That is why I need to get things sorted. Perhaps Irish, perhaps Scottish, maybe a mix of Italian and Spanish. 4th Generation Australian but who knows

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  1. There’s so much history that’s a closed book to me. Norway is as unknown a place to me as many places on the other side of the globe. Your post reveals how much there is to find out and appreciate. And if you squeezed me hard enough, I’m sure some Norwegian blood from way in the past would drip out.

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  2. I love anyplace that has Rosemaling. It’s my favorite art form. I love all your photos and would so love the chance to visit. It’s on my list and I’ll let you know if it goes from possibility to probability.

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    1. I didn’t know that you were such a big fan of Rosemaling, Marlene. But I am very happy to know that you know it and appreciate it. If you don’t ever get to Norway, you can always travel through my posts. I will try to share more of these special places in Norway in anyhow near future with you in mind. Much love and hugs, Amanda

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      1. I don’t know specifically. My maternal grandfather was a 2nd or 3rd generation German-American. While I’ve done plenty of research on my father’s side of the family, I sadly haven’t been able to learn much about my mother’s side. That’s yet another project I have to pursue in this lifetime!

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      2. Some German records are hard to come by if those records were destroyed in the war. I find Myheritage was useful for sourcing records in some parts of Europe. Even Ancestry – while expensive is useful. I am planning to do more family history when I retire. But for now, I peek a little into the programs and their “matches” that they email me, from time to time. I cannot find info on two of my lines as there is no parents listed for Gr GR Grandfather and maternal grandfather and maternal grandmothers’ family. Frustrating it is. Have you looked into the free trials they have with those programs?

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      1. I know there’s a ferry to Sweden from Gdansk but I am not sure about Norway. It is one of those countries that I’d love to do a road trip on! I have heard from so many well-traveled people that it’s one of the most beautiful countries that they’ve ever visited 🙂

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      2. Yes. I think you might have to change ferries in Copenhagen or perhaps there is one going to Kristiansand from Kiel? Going via Sweden is also possible but much longer I think as you would have to take a train to Gothenburg and change to a second train to Oslo. The Copenhagen – Oslo ferry might be nice as it enters the Oslo fjord ar the end and you can sail overnight. It follows the Swedish coast. Having said that, you can see a lot along the way if you go by train. Or of course you could fly. I flew back from Oslo to Berlin, so that is another option, only on reverse. Is Berlin closer than Gdansk to Lodz? I must post about a few more destinations in Norway as I have been to a variety of places there and it seems like it is a country many folks are interested in visiting. Do you have upcoming holidays, Pooja?

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      3. I am postponing visits to all the expensive and comfortable European destinations for my later years! Right now I want to travel to tropical locations where I can scuba dive, be by the sea and what not. I am going to Nepal in October, Amanda! And to Thailand for some 10 days 🙂 After working for a whole year without break, I am sooo looking forward to it!

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    1. Aren’t they beautiful, Loujen? Too think there was on be so many of them and the Stave churches. History sometimes reveals more about our ancestors lives than we thinking might.

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  3. I found this fascinating. It was all new to me – but love how there’s a practical side to the architecture, I suppose there needs to be. As for a wife being passed to the next priest…well… Thanks for introducing me to something completely new.

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      1. No, none. I’m about 4th generation Australian on both sides with English/Scottish prior to that. I find the history fascinating though – especially in regards to crossovers with the Scots.

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      2. Ok. Me I am Aussie 8th gen; Scandinavian, European and English!! A mix!! They are loads of crossovers with Scottish/Norwegian cultural practices that stem back to Viking ages.

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  4. I read your informative post with great interest. We haven’t been to Numedal Valley yet, and we will. Travelling abroad and exploring the culture and history of other European countries has been the focus all these years. We forgot that the spectacular landscapes from different parts of Norway is a treasure itself.

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    1. Isn’t it strange that this is often the case when we are choosing Vacations, Isabelle? That is, we often choose something far away and slightly foreign to us, something with perhaps the weather or atmosphere that we want to experience. And yet, right outside our door, there are places just as enjoyable. Sometimes I think I should travel overseas while I can and when I am old, and have less money/more health issues, I will travel more locally. Does that factor into your planning?

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      1. I resonate with your thoughts. I’d rather have adventures when I’m young. I love wandering in streets and mountains and along beaches, it requires a good portion of energy. When I’m old, I think I would enjoy a walk in a neighbouring town, and then sit under a huge oak tree with a couple of tea on the bench, recollecting and feeling all these good moments…

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