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The Viking Age in Fet, Norway

by  Tove Skråmm

When people along the coast of Norway started to "go Viking",  the people in Fet didn't pay much attention to it. They lived inland, not along the coast. They went on worrying about their harvests. Would they have enough food for the winter? The population was increasing rapidly and new farms were built all the time.

Viking Gods

For good crops it was important to keep the gods of fertility happy. At Lund (sacred grove), the people in Fet kept a wooden statue of their fertility god. In spring, when the snow was gone, the statue was taken out from the sacred grove and put on a sacred cart. Oxen were put in front of the cart and an important tour began.


At each farm the cart with the statue of the god stopped and the fields were blessed. There were many farms in the area and the oxen didn't go fast, so the cart, the oxen and the people following the cart had to stay the night at different farms on their tour.


The Norse gods were called Asa. To travel was called Aka. The farms these people, the oxen and the sacred statue stayed the night at, all got the name Asak. There are still several farms in our area called Asak.
After the tour, the statue was put back in the sacred Lund. The people had done everything they knew how to prepare for a good harvest.

The Mighty Thor

In summer people in Fet met at a farm called Hov (a word for a Norse place of worship). There they sacrificed an animal to the god Tor (The Mighty Thor). He was the farmer's favourite god.  He was the god for weather, and he was the peasants' Champion,  protecting them against all evil powers around them.  

The Ting at Hov

They also had their Ting (local council and court) where they decided on matters of interest to all people in Fet. Since nobody could read or write, they had a man who knew all the laws by heart. When they wondered what the law said, they asked him. He told them in a loud and clear voice what the law was. A jury of 12 or two times twelve of free men passed sentences. All this was an annual routine for the people in Fet all through the Viking Age.

Where there any Vikings in Fet at all?

Some people from Fet might have gone down to the Oslo fjord and joined a Viking fleet to go Viking, but most people stayed home. From time to time, some Viking king or other claiming to be king of all of Norway, came rushing up from the Oslo fjord demanding taxes; often burning down a few farms to show he meant business. He collected whatever valuables he could find and then disappeared again. This was also part of the routine and few people paid much attention to it.

Christianity comes to Fet

In 1022 it all changed. Rumours said that King Olav Haraldsson  was on his way to Fet and the Romerike area. He was on his way to force people here to stop people from worshipping their old gods and introduce a new god and a new religion..The people in Fet were terrified. What would happen to their harvests if they could not any longer offer gifts to their ancient gods?
The local chieftain in Fet took the warsign out from its hiding place. He looked at it. The wooden cylinder had the war-rune carved into it. He felt the sharp edge of the iron nail at the end of the cylinder. He gave the war-sign to his eldest son. The boy knew what to do. He ran over to the nearest farm and rammed the war-sign into the door. The door was opened by the farmer himself. He looked at the sign briefly, gave it to his son and the boy took off to the next farm, while the farmer went to find his sword, shield and helmet.

The Battle at the river Nit

Soon all men from the area gathered at The Nit river waiting  for king Olav and his men. The battle was a short one. The local people were no match for the king's experienced Viking army. After the battle the local chieftains went down on his knees and had to pay homage to the king, and accept Christianity as their faith. So did all their men. The next few days the king went all over the area to make sure that everybody had accepted the new faith. They all had!

Five Churches

After some time four private churches and a parish church were built in Fet. The parish church was built at Hov, the very place people used to worship Thor. For a long time, however, in a bad year some farmers often sneaked out at night to offer a little something to Thor, just in case.
Today "the old faith" is long forgotten. Only the placenames remain. At Lund, you today find a timber-floating museum and a bird sanctuary. At Hov, the church-bells call parishioners to church every Sunday. At the Asak farms they grow barley and rye like they did a thousand years ago.  Only a few people today really know what these names meant to the people in yesteryears. You are now one of these few!

Updated March 26, 1999 by  The Viking Network