Avaldnes

Viking history

The small township of Avaldsnes has a lot to offer concerning Viking history. The Viking king Harald Fair Hair made this his base after the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, which marks the unification of Norway as one kingdom. This made Harald the first king of Norway, and Avaldsnes the first royal residency. The farm is reconstructed to its original form and showcases great examples of traditional Viking architecture. On the compound you find several buildings: longhouses, underground houses, circular houses and a large boathouse. Avaldsnes gained acclaim as a holy place where the Kings could prove their own divinity. The nearby straits, the North Way, also held great tactical significance, and historians agree that it later gave the country its name.

Viking museum

A natural place for a Viking museum, the Nordvegen History Center in Avaldsnes, was officially opened in 2005. A stone’s throw from the royal Residency the modern and elaborate museum showcases 3500 years of history, focusing to a great extent on the Viking era. The museum is built largely underground; only the entrance is visible. The architects thus managed to respect the historical character of the area. A short walk from the centre you also find the old stone church of Saint Olav, built by the Viking King Haakon Hakonson in 1250. Leaning towards the church wall is Virgin Mary’s Sewing Needle, the largest standing stone in Norway. Legend has it that when the two connect, doomsday will be upon us.

Viking festival

The Avaldsnes area is also home to the annual Viking Festival held from the 11th to the 14th of June. Here, you can see Viking history re-enacted in historical plays, you can join the crew on a Viking ship, listen and dance to Viking music, see blacksmiths hammer out swords, sample Viking food and learn traditional skills such as cloth colouring. The festival attracts both young and old, tourists and locals, and is a great way of spending the early days of summer in one of the historically most important parts of Norway.

 

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