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King Bele, Balestrand

According to legend, King Bele, king of sygna country, was buried in the largest of these grave mounds in Balestrand.

In 1913, The German emperor Wilhelm II, gave this statue of King Bele to the norwegian people. Across the fjord he also erected the large statue of Fritjov Den Frøkne, said to be in love with King Bele´s  beautiful daughter, Ingebjørg. The statues were inspired by the swedish poet Elias Tegner and his story "Fritjovs Saga".

The grave mound of King Bele

King Bele was central character in the Fridtjov Saga, an Icelandic family saga from the early 1300s describing the love affair between King Bele`s daughter Ingebjørg the Beautiful and Fridtjov the Bold from Vangsnes. It is not certain that the people in this family saga ever lived. Romanticisme dominated in European cultural life during the first half of the 19th century. The extremely popular romantic epic "Fridtjofs Saga" by the Swede Esias Tegner, written in 1820-1825,was based on this Icelandic saga and was translated to most European languages. There was much interest in seeing the landscape and the ancient monuments connected to the saga, and artists and tourists flocked to Balestrand. Germany`s Kaiser Vilhelm II visited the Norwegian Fjords and Balestrand faithfully almost every year, and in 1913 he donated the Fridthjov Statue at Vangsnes and the bronze monument of King Bele at Belehaugen to the people of Sogn. 

There were five grave mounds here from the Viking Age. In the 1820s, inspired by the saga, there were excavated for any objects of antiquiry, The so-called "Bele Mound" was the largest of these mounds. In 1886 a stone chest was found at the bottom of the mound, the stone chest was the only grave to be examinde by experts. This was a man`s grave grave from the Migration Period (400-550 A.D) in the early Iron Age. Later, during the Viking Age, the grave mound was made bigger to accommodate the grave of another man, it is not known what weapons and implements were placed in the grave with him. 

Source: Visit Sognefjord AS


King Bele, Balestrand

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