Edna Rude tells us, “From an old history book we find this description of life on a valley farm, whether in Hallingdal or elsewhere in Norway. Each “settlement” or community consisted of one “big” farm handed down through generations of one family since the beginning. The location would be by a river, fjord, or tarn (lake). The owner was called “odelsbonde” or storbonde” meaning the big landowner. Because of his wealth he was automatically the leader in the community. Wealth was synonymous with wisdom! He kept armed body guards, many hired workers, plus some slaves. Near the buildings were pastures, fields and a small orchard. There was a garden containing cabbages, onions and plants used for dyes-blue, gold, etc. The whole farm was enclosed in a fence.
There were many buildings on the main farm, all built of logs so large it took just three stacked on t op of each other for each wall. As there was no foundation the first log was laid directly on the ground, and each log was “slabbed” on two sides so walls were flat down inside and outside. The roofs were laid with planks, covered by birch bark (which never rots) and then sod on top of this. If the grass grew too long on the roof it was the privilege of one of the goats to be placed up there to nibble it down. Chimneys were unknown until the 18th or 19th century. The main house was long and narrow with a packed earth floor that had been excavated so it was lower than ground level. People would step down into the house. A ledge of earth was left around the walls and this was covered with planks so there were benches for seating many people all around. Two or three stone hearths were lined up along the middle of the room. A hole in the roof served to relieve the room of some of the smoke. The hole served as a window for light during the day. There we no other windows. And there was a sort of trap door attached to a pole so the opening could be closed during bad weather and darkness. Heavy crossbeams held the building together. One end of the house was divided into two small rooms, an entry and a storage room for food supplies. This was a forerunner of the kitchen. And in the entrance was a ladder to the sleeping loft above the storage room. There were, of course, many other building separate stables for cows, sheep and goats, a “stabbur” (storage) with sleeping loft above for the hired girls to sleep. Other help usually slept in the horse stable. There was also a blacksmith shop, a boats shed and a type of sauna used every Saturday by the men. This practice continued until about 1800 AD.” (pp. 2-3, People’s History of the Hallinglag of America 1907-2007).
To be continued