Mountain and summer farms in Vik i Sogn

pictures of summer farms so far.

In many parts of Norway people moved their cattle to the mountains in the summer so that the grass could grow undisturbedly on their home fields. Most farms had a little house, a sel, in the mountains where a maid lived and milked and looked after the cattle. During the middle parts of the 20th century this tradition was abandoned due to modern ways of farming, but still most of the houses in the mountains are standing and used for recreation.

Fjellstølar (summer farms in the mountain) were used from early or mid July until mid September, whereas vårstølar (spring farms closer to the main farms) were used two weeks in June/July and two weeks in the autumn.

Some common Norwegian words in the narratives

bnr. (bruksnummer)
farm number
(the) single farm
private dwelling
(the) farm, group of farms
house, building
cotter´s farm
mot nord, sør, aust, vest
towards the north, south, east, west
(the) cluster of farm houses and outbuildings belonging to two or more farms
sett [...] frå
viewed [...] from
(the) cluster of houses and outbuildings, courtyard


In this section of I have gathered photographs of several farms in Vik. The aim is - besides the project itself - to try to show how the farms and agricultural landscape in Vik really look - perhaps especially dedicated to Norse-Americans with roots in Vik. I have used maps and overview pictures and partly 360º panorama pictures to show how the farms are located in the topography, and photographs from different angles to show how the houses and outbuildings are situated. Many of the pictures are shot with a powerful zoom-lens from a nearby mountain, which gives them an aerial-photo-like look. On the photos I have blurred houses that do not belong to the specified farm.

Farm vs. single farm
The term 'farm' may be confusing in this setting, in English as it is in Norwegian. In Norwegian gard can mean both a small group of farms bearing one name, like Hønsi, Hove and Orvedal and all the other farms on the menu to the left, or it can mean one single farm within such a group. The terms namnegard 'name farm' or matrikkelgard 'listed farm' is used exclusively for groups of farms bearing one name, while bruk exclusively means one single farm. The origin of this confusion is explained below.

Houses and house clusters
Today's overall picture with farms and private dwellings distributed evenly over the cultural landscape differs greatly from the situation 200-150 years ago. At that time the houses were much smaller and fewer, furthermore the houses and outbuildings of neighbouring farms were gathered in klyngjetun, house clusters. The background for this is that each 'name farm', like Hønsi, Hove, Orvedal etc. originally was one single farm. Over the generations, this farm was divided repeatedly between siblings, so that for example Hønsi, which was one farm in the 16th century, in the 19th century was divided into six single farms or bruk. When two siblings divided the farm between them, maybe one of them built a new house while they continued sharing the outbuildings. Over the years they built their own outbuildings by the other houses, and eventually the farms were totally separated. Another unfortunate situation that emerged during the centuries, was teigblanding, the mixing of small pieces of land belonging to different single farms. When a farm was divided, it would not be fair if one of the sons got a productive piece of land suitable for grain cultivating, while the other got a poor piece of land 500 m above sea level. Therefore, each piece of land was divided evenly. Eventually over the generations, the farmlands of Vik consisted of thousands of minute fields. The same situation is known today for example in the Andes. To break out of this ineffective system, the farmers of each 'name farm' organised jordskifte, shifting of land, during the late 19th century. Each single farm now got fewer and larger fields, and the farmers moved their houses out of the house clusters to settle on their own land.

The spelling of the farm names may differ somewhat from what is usual in surnames, especially in American surnames. The American surnames are generally based upon older danish orthography as danish was the official language in Norway at the time most people emigrated. However, on this website the official modern spelling is used, based upon the way the place names are traditionally pronounced in our Norwegian dialect.

Mtn. farms

Beitelen Berdalen Bjergane Bjønndalen Botnadalen Botnen Bruavollstølen Bøastølen Dalastølen Dragsbotnen Dueskaret Dunevollen Endresete Espesetstølen Fagerdalen Finnbuene Fjærestadstølen Flateng Fosse Fossesete Fosstølen, nedste Fosstølen, øvste Fyrjane Gjelet Godstøl Gotevikstølen / Soleisete Gravotn Gravsete Grungjen, store Grungjen, vetle Grøndalen, Myrkves- Grøndalen, Skjerveims- Gunnarsete Hallrynjestølen Hallsetdalen Hanekamdalen Hang Hangsete (Vangs.) Hangsete (Vik) Hedlesete Hedlestølen (Dale) Hedlestølen (Hallsete) Heimastølen (Geithus) Heimastølen (Hanekam) Heimastølen (Vetles.) Heimastølen (Ålrek) Hest Hestfjellet Hillerane (ved Bungane) Hillerane (Åse) Hola Holskardholmen Holstadstølen Hovden Jostølen Juvikstølen Kalbakk Kleivadalen Klimpen Klukjen / Turvollhaugen Klypet Kolgrov Kongsli Kvanndalen Kvassdalen Kvilesteinane Kålsete Kåsteinen Liasete Liktvorstølen / Tubbesete Lomsli Løyningshagen Midlangsstølen Mytingen Målsete Nesstølen Nigardsstølen Nonhaugen Nummedalsstølen, nedste / Kjengjasete Nummedalsstølen, øvste Nyastøl (Hopp.) Nyastøl (Seim) Nygot Nysel Ovrisfjellet Ovrisstølen Perolaknollen Preststølen (Midlang) Preststølen / Nedste Vikjadalen Pyttane Rambera Rappen Raudbergdalen Rislågfossen Rislågstølen Rivedalen Rivedalen, vetle Rosete Rosheimstølen Rotteskaret Saursete Seldalen Seljane Sendedal Skaret Skjelingen Skjemmedalen Skoddesete Skòr Skorge Smørdalen Smørklepp Smørklepp, øvste Solrenningen Stavedalstølen Stedjestølen Steimsstølen / Notesete Svardalsstølen Sylvarnesdalen Tenne Tistelstølen Titlastøl Tuftahaugen Turdalen Undisstølen Unnardal Valahola Valsvikdalen Valsvikstølane Vatnane Vetlestølen (til Dale) Vetlestølen (til Limmesand) Vikjadalen, øvste Vollafjellet, nedsta Vollafjellet, øvsta Vollastølen Vårstølen Ygnesdal Ytstestølen Øyasete Ålrekstølen / Vøvringen Åsdalen
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