April 29: Sverreborg Trøndelag Folkemuseum

Today we visited Sverresborg Trøndelag Folkemuseum in Trondheim with Trond, Sylvi, and their kids. We were just in time for a guided “tour” with a delightful aristocrat from 18th century Trondheim who first showed us the home of a local import merchant. After shouting loudly for Hans and getting no response, he took liberty to tell us that Hans was quite rich because he imports spices, wine, and other fancy things, then sells them in Trondheim. He pointed out that a rich man has fancy paint like this, and imported furniture. I got into the groove and understood most of what he was saying, and Anders was right with it.

Then he took us to his own home, the first one to be made out of concrete in Trondheim. It was also lavishly decorated. He asked us all to go into the dining room and treated us to a preview of the party he would hold later in the day. We smelled the spices, listened to his story about the party, and got to “skål” to everyone he could think of while we drained the glasses of sparkly apple juice (he drained 2!) He asked “who should we skål to first?” and no one answered, so I said “deg?” (you?). He thought that was pretty funny! Nope, first the king, then the queen, then the crown prince, then the bishop…on down the line including his wife, and finally him! Skål!

We saw the rest of the sights in the old town, this is the main street with various stores and homes. Some of them were open, others we could see in through the windows.

Next we went to the “nightman’s” house. There was a long recording (thankfully one in English too) about the one person in Trondheim back in the old days who did his work at night: emptying everyone’s outhouses, collecting the corpses of the executed or suicides, sometimes required to put a head on a stake. This person and his family were shunned by the rest of society, no one would have anything to do with them if possible. It passed from father to son, or if one died and they needed a new one, they would force a prisoner into the job. Sad stories. This was the very house that the nightman lived in, now we can honor them.

Dentist office from 1918. Oi! The whole top floor of one of the old town houses was devoted to dentistry over the last century, with equipment from 1928 and 1958 on display as well. Be thankful for what we have now.

Yikes! One looks too happy, one looks in distress, one looks away.

After the dentist office, we stepped into the candy shop, also a toy store (and real gift shop). We didn’t get anything 🙂 We did go to the main museum cafe and gift shop later.

Then we climbed up to the top of the bluff where the ruins of King Sverre’s castle are preserved. Built by King Sverre, completed in 1183 and defended by the Birkebeiners, loyalists to the king against invaders and the church that wanted to assert power. As recently as 2014 and 2016 they have done excavation work and found archeological remains that match some of the sagas written from 1180s-90s.

Only the foundation of the castle still stands now. There were stories of the attacks that killed a lot of the Birkebeiner defenders and a fire in the underground rooms. The attackers threw a dead body and the contents of the outhouse into the well to contaminate it, so that the King and defenders could not stay there. They found the skeleton of a man in the well in 2014, dated back to the 1190s. Anders is blown away that we are standing in places where people build castles almost 1,000 years ago.

From the top, looking out toward the city of Trondheim (above) and fjord with the island Munkholmen in the distance (below).

Looking down at the old farm houses below the castle ruins, with Trond, Sylvi, and Julia down there! Sylvi and I marveled at what life was like in those small farm houses, in the cold and dark winters. All about survival. There are no “good” old days, we have it pretty good in our warm places with refrigerators full of food now.

On our way out we went past the Stave Church from Haltdalen, originally built around 1170 and reconstructed here, the only one remaining in Trøndelag. It wasn’t open today.

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.
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