Welcome to a walk through Hamar!
Since olden times there has been a landing place in the same area where the route now goes across the modern Stange bridge. From that site the pilgrims would have made their way along the shore to Domkirkeodden (the Cathedral precincts). The earlier pilgrim route was placed closer to the lake Mjøsa tnen it is today. We intend to do this again as soon as the new city area close to the lake is araising.
From the starting point at Stange bridge you can also choose an alternative route. This route crosses Svartelva (the “Black River”) at the same place as the royal route did in the 18th century and passes Vang Church, where parts of the churchyard date back to the Middle Ages.
The milestone at Domkirkeodden
The milestone shows the distance to Nidaros (the modern Trondheim) and has an arrow pointing in that direction. Made of granite, the stone also has the pilgrims’ symbol carved into it, a combination of the National Heritage sign and the cross of St Olav.
The Pilgrims Way leads you on to Domkirkeodden and Hedmarksmuseet, the ruins of the mediaeval cathedral which was started in 1152 and is now covered by protective glass., the Bishop’s Palace and the remains of Hamarkaupangen (the old market and trading area). From here the route goes along the shoreline before joining the ancient thoroughfare over Furuberget and into the neighbouring district of Ringsaker.
SITES OF CULTURAL INTEREST ALONG THE MAIN ROUTE
Tjuvholmen ( the “Thieves’ Holm”) has an important place in the history of Hamar. On the south side of the holm there is a relatively large burial mound, clearly visible from the lake approaches to Åkersvika as a mark of property and power. The mound is also a reminder of how important Lake Mjøsa must have been as a means of communication. The mound probably dates back to the Bronze Age, c.1800 - 500 BC. As the name suggests, Tjuvholmen was used as an internment camp for thieves and villains during the Middle Ages. The fishermen of Hamar lived along the shores all the way out to Domkirkeodden.
Skibladner, the “white swan of Mjøsa”, is the world’s oldest paddle steamer still in regular service. It was launched in 1856, since when it has plied the route between Eidsvoll and the towns on the shores of the lake. In the Middle Ages many pilgrims would have come to Hamar by boat and been put ashore either at the landing site at Åkersvika or other places along the shoreline.
At Domkirkeodden stand the remains of Hamarkaupangen, Norway’s only inland market town in the Middle Ages. Its roots can be traced back to the 7th century as a trading centre under the jurisdiction of the powerful chieftains of Åker Farm at the far end of Åkersvika. From the time of King Harald Hardråde, round about 1050, we know that coins were minted here, which must show that the king had ultimate control of the trade. In 1152/53 the bishopric of Oslo was divided into two. A new epsicopal see was established in Hamar, a reflection of the important role that Hamar played in inland Norway. A number of impressive buildings were erected: the cathedral, the walled Bishop’s Palace with its towers, dwellings for the priests, a cathedral school, a hospital with its own chapel, a cruciform church, and a priory.
In 1537, during the Reformation, Mogens, the last Catholic bishop of Hamar, was taken prisoner and forced into exile. The bishopric was put under the jurisdiction of Oslo. The Bishop’s Palace became the residence of the chief county official. In 1597, during the Nordic Seven Years’ War, the building was besieged by the Swedish army and razed to the ground. The cathedral itself also caught fire and was extensively damaged.
Today, Domkirkeodden is the site of Hedmark Museum, which is both a mediaeval museum for Hamarkaupangen and a folk museum for the regional districts of the county of Hedmark. The ruins of the cathedral have been covered by a glass casing to protect them from the eroding effects of rain, snow and frost . This new “glass cathedral” is now one of Norway’s most interesting architectural constructions. The ruins of the old Bishop’s Palace have been excavated and brought to light by archeologists, and the architect Sverre Fehn has designed a museum where the visitor can see the whole of the excavated area and the objects that have been found there. Domkirkeodden is the “thousand year site” both for the county of Hedmark and the borough of Hamar.
The township fortification on the top of Furuberget hill was probably constructed in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. At the highest point on the hill we can trace the remains of stone and earth walls built around those parts of the fort which were most vulnerable to attack. On the steep west side of the hill, however, there was no need for protective walls. Research shows that many such local fortifications would have had a palisade of pointed stakes set in the earthworks. It is probable that the fortification was built as a place of refuge if the township came under attack.
PLACES OF CULTURAL INTEREST ALONG THE ALTERNATIVE ROUTE
The alternative route takes you through an area rich in historical remains from the Iron Age and the Viking period (c.200 – 1000 AD) (Numbers according to a route map)
Vidarshov, burial mounds from the Iron Age (1)
At Vidarshov Farm there is an area with about 25 burial mounds of different shapes and sizes. North-west of the main yard is one of the largest burial mounds in the county, Teahaugen(2), 5 metres high and about 30 metres in diameter. On the farm they have excavated the site of a longhouse from the period 200-400 AD. While the traces of this building are no longer visible today, we know it was located in the field on the raised land between Teahaugen and the main burial area.
Torshov, monumental farm building (3)
From a distance you can easily spot the distinctive cattle house at Torshov Farm, built in 1805. It was designed by the architect Abraham Pihl, who was the vicar of Vang Church and Norway’s first officially appointed astronomer.
Dystingbo, the old greenhouse (4)
Here, at Dystingbo Farm, you can see Norway’s oldest wood-fired greenhouse in its original condition. It was built in about 1860.
Vang kirke (5)
Standing high and proud, Vang Church can be seen from miles around. It was probably built on the site of an ancient pre-Christian cult centre. Around the church are many burial mounds from the Iron Age, and a number of farms in the vicinity have names which bear witness to the cultivation of pre-Christian gods: Torshov(3), Vidarshov (1), Dystingbo (4) and Disen.
It is said that the first church here was founded by Olav the Saint (the patron saint of Norway). During the 12th century a stone church was built. The medieaval church burnt down in 1804, and all that remains of it is the tower with its entrance door in Romanesque style. The present building, designed by the priest, astronomer and master-of-all-trades Abraham Pihl, was completed in 1810. Pihl’s grave can still be seen in the churchyard. Hanna Winsnes, who in the latter part of her life was the wife of the vicar of Vang, is also buried here.
Åker Farm, the home of the Iron Age chieftains (6)
Some of the richest finds from Norway’s Iron Age have been uncovered here at Åker Farm. They include costume equipment, reins, and the remains of a ceremonial weapon, all richly decorated with gold, silver and precious stones. They have also found about a kilo of pure gold in the form of large and small rings. The finds have been dated to about the year 600 AD. Other artefacts include a large number of weapons from the Viking period. South-west of the farmyard fieldworkers have excavated a number of formations where once stood Iron Age longhouses. The site of a Viking house has been marked. Traces of the Iron Age landing and mooring place, Naust-tuft (7), can be seen down by Åkersvika..
Altogether the finds confirm that Åker Farm was an important centre of power in Hedmark from the 6th century and right up to the end of the Viking period in about 1000 AD. Åker was probably the place where people living around the lake would meet for their main “thing” or parliament. This function was later moved from Åker to Eidsvoll during the reign of Olav the Saint. The farm remained an important place for decision making during the Middle Ages.
Elvsholmen, one of Norway’s largest burial mounds (8)
At Elvsholmen on the banks of Flagstadselva (the River Flagstad ) lies one of the largest burial mounds in Norway with a diameter of about 50 metres and a height of 6 metres. It probably marked the border between Åker Farm and Disen (9) on the other side of the river. The mound has not been excavated, but is believed to be from the 7th century AD.
The route continues past the Viking Ship sports hall, constructed for the speed-skating events of the 1994 Winter Olympics, and leads you back to the main route.
THE CHURCH OF NORWAY:
Pilegrimsprest Arne Bakken, Hamar bispedømmekontor, Folkestadsgt. 52, tlph. 62 55 03 52
Hamar Domkirke, Kirkegt. 14. Contact Hamar menighetsktr., tlph. 62 51 05 50
Storhamar kirke, Måsåbekkvn. 9, tlph. 62 55 04 20
Vang kirke, Vangsvn. 358, tlph. 62 55 04 30
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH:
St. Torfinn kirke, Torggt. 113, tlph. 62 52 37 51
HAMAR TOURIST OFFICE:
Vikingskipet, tlph. 62 51 75 03
Bellevue Bed and Breakfast, Aluvn. 65, tlph. 62 52 34 77
Seierstad Pensjonat, Holsetgt. 64, tlph. 62 52 12 44
Vikingskipet Motell og Vandrerhjem, Åkersvikvn. 24, tlph. 62 52 60 60
Hamar’s coat of arms
The coat of arms roots can be traced back to the Middle Ages. This is how the coat of arms is described in the 16th century “Hamar Chronicle”.
“Hamar’s coat of arms depicted a black grouse with outstretched wings, atop a pine tree, which did grow green, and the selfsame coat of arms was carved above the doorway to the Town Hall. Outside the Hall there was a large rock on which was carved the national coat of arms and old letters.”
Modern-day experts have reconstructed Hamar’s coat of arms on the basis of this description. The four towers in the crown symbolize the fact that Hamar is an episcopal see.