The man in question was historian, farmer and politician Jon Leirfall from Hegra near Stjørdal in 1920, and in retrospect the locals of Trøndelag and historians alike have probably nodded in approval at what initially sounds like a somewhat bombastic statement.
The fact that the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 marks the transition from paganism to Christianity in Norway and that the country was ruled from Steinvikholmen Castle by Bishop Olav Engelbrektsson for several years around the Reformation are just two examples that support Leirfall’s claim.
It’s easy to think that historic attractions are old and charming and that it was impressive to erect them without a hoisting crane, and simply leave it at that. But many of these attractions deserve a bit more; for instance, that we reflect over the role they played in their time and the developments that have taken place since.
One of the first things you will hear if a local of Trøndelag starts telling you about the history of Trøndelag is the Battle of Stiklestad. King Olav II was on his way to Nidaros, as Trondheim was then called, to take power over Norway. Along the way, or more specifically at Stiklestad in Verdal, he was greeted by a peasant army, which had heard his plan and wanted to stop it. The battle ended with Olav’s death, and has subsequently been considered the most famous battle in the history of Norway.
Olav’s body was then taken to Nidaros, where he was buried on the banks of the Nidelva river. When his coffin was moved to more ground around a year later, it was discovered that his hair and nails had continued to grow and that Olav’s skin was still fresh. This led to him being canonized as Saint Olav, and as soon as the news spread pilgrims started coming to the saint from all over Europe to seek inner peace. The Pilgrim Paths to Trondheim, St. Olav Ways, now have the same European Cultural Route status as those leading to Rome and Santiago de Compostela, and each year the Nidarosdomen Cathedral is visited by increasingly more pilgrims.
For Stiklestad’s part, the history of the battle was part of the basis for the Stiklestad National Cultural Centre being built there. The centre conveys stories about what life was like at the time the battle, including during the annual Stiklestad Summer, which showcases old artisans, food traditions and martial arts. It’s also a venue for knowledge sharing and debate. The Saint Olav Drama performed on the battlefield during the annual Saint Olav Festival is largest open-air theatrical performance in the Nordic region.
Another place that is rich in history in our region is the mining town of Røros. Ever since a reindeer kicked the ground outside Røros and uncovered copper in the mountains, mining operations have played a major role for this small community. The mining operations resulted in a huge demand for labour as well as incomprehensible amounts of wood to heat up the mountain in the mines, so they became porous enough to extract the copper. The mining operations continued for more than 300 years. Røros is characterised by this activity to this day, also visually. Enormous slag heaps from the mines are situated right beside the town centre of Røros. It’s quite amazing that such large heaps are manmade. These slag heaps are known as Slagghaugan, which forms the backdrop for an outdoor musical theatre depicting the story of the when the Swedish Caroleans tried to seize the town in the early 18th century.
Røros is a gem of a small town, with narrow streets, colourful houses, an extremely active culinary environment with cafés and restaurants and a vibrant arts and crafts community. Several museum departments in the town centre also depict what life was like in Røros during the mining era.
The mining town of Røros with its more than 100 protected wooden houses was in 1980 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 2010 the original area on the list was expanded to include the so-called circumference, the area the mine occupied in order to get wood and labour for the copper mining operations.
Foreigners often associate the Sami people with the northern regions of Norway. However, there are also Sami people in Trøndelag, the Southern Sami, who leave their mark on the community in which they live. There are not many places you can visit the Sami and gain a real insight into how they live and about the reindeer herding as a lifestyle. However, this is quite possible in Røros, Snåsa and Røyrvik, situated at the entrance to the Børgefjell National Park.
The family-based company Rørosrein is situated just outside the Røros town centre. There is a gåetie (traditional dwelling) where it’s possible to hold functions, as well as a farm shop. Visitors to Rørosrein can participate in reindeer sledding, lassoing and feeding the reindeer, all of which are unique and enjoyable activities. lining, which is both funny and different experiences. Another option is taking a reindeer for a walk.
The bilingual municipality of Snåsa in Nord-Trøndelag also has a significant proportion of Southern Sami. However, with a population of just over 2,000 people, we are still talking about relatively small numbers. Groups may visit the Southern Sami Museum and Cultural Centre, Saemien Sijte, year-round and learn about the history and culture of the Southern Sami. Snåsa is also a wonderful municipality for outdoor recreation with an average of one fishing lake per resident.
Destination Dærga, which is located in Røyrvik near the Børgefjell National Park, is a Southern Sami theme park showcasing the Sami’s use of natural resources, in part by following the eight seasons through a reindeer herding year. The centre also has a nature trail that highlights the Sami traditions and their use of natural resources.
You can find countless places in Trøndelag with an exciting history. Old monastery ruins testifying to monastic life as far back as the 13th century may be found on the island of Tautra on the Frosta peninsula and in Levanger. In Levanger monks of the Cistercian Order have returned and built a new monastery, where they now produce their famous Munkeby cheese. The new Tautra Mariakloster has been built not far from the original ruins on the island of Tautra and a group of nuns now lives here. This convent may be visited at set times. There is also a shop where the nuns sell their self-produced lotions, soaps and much more.
Austrått in Ørlandet is an old manor that has been the residence of many noblemen and noblewomen throughout history. Lady Ingerd, one of the foremost personalities in Norway during the Reformation, lived for a time at the manor. She lived anonymously until her husband died in 1523, but as a widow she was active as both a landowner and politician. Historians and dramatists have attached emphasis to the power game between Lady Ingerd and Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson, who was situated at Steinvikholmen. Her fame was the inspiration for Henrik Ibsen’s famous play Lady Inger from Ostrat.
If you visit Bøla, on the road between Steinkjer and Snåsa, you can see the Bøla reindeer. The full-size rock carving of a reindeer is more than 6,000 years old and is regarded as one of the world’s most famous rock carvings. Carvings of reindeer, bears and a skier have also been found in the surrounding area.
Rock carvings that are 5,000-year-old have been found at Steinmohaugen near Hell in Stjørdal. Reindeer are among the subjects here too. The carvings at Steinmohaugen may have been an important place for people on their way between the summer reindeer grazing areas on the coast and the autumn areas in the mountains. Were the pictures show the way along the fjord and up the valley?
At Bardal in Sør-Beistad, not far from the Steinkjer town centre, you will find one of Trøndelag's largest collections of rock carvings. The 300 m² large rock surface contains more than 400 carvings, which depict everything from animals and humans to boats and tents. One of the most eye-catching is a whale that is more than six metres long. What is so special about Bardal is that the carvings date from both the Stone Age and the Bronze Age.