onsdag 16. mars 2016

Easter Deal - 30% Discount

One night between two cups of coffee, a girl and her best friend are introduced to a dreamy world where strange things happen. This event makes them search for the truth about the history of their countries. On their journeys they find clues hidden in architecture, symbols and placenames. The girl is travelling in and out of the dreamworld where she meets a wizard that teaches her important things about life and the universe and how to get closer to the truth in reality. Then one day a nuclear power plant breaks down in a storm. Could the two girls be saved?

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"The Dragon Leaves" brings you flashes of Mythic Fiction. Small pieces of mystical thoughts and depictions of beautiful Nature are put together in this collection

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søndag 19. juli 2015

Lochlannach - The Lakelander

Lochlannach - The Lakelander
While researching my history writings I happened to stumble over a blog that mentions the Lochlannachs. I would like to share an excerpt of the text with you so that you can see where my author name came from. 

"The Northmen of the Anglo-Saxon period were certainly people of many tribes. The name included all the inhabitants of the Northern peninsula as well as the Danes. It was not confined in its meaning like the later name Norse. In Sweden there were the ancient provinces of Hallaud, Skäne, Bleking, Smaland, Södermanland, Nebrike, Vermland, Upland, Vestmanland, Angermaneland, Helsingland, Gestrickland, Delarna, Eastern and Western Gotland, and others. Vermland, which had been part of Norway, was added to Sweden after 860. In Norway there were the tribal provinces or districts of Nordrland. Halgoland, Ranmerike, Heredaland, Hadeland, Rogaland, Raumsdel, Borgund, Viken, and others.

People of these provinces or tribal districts were all Northmen, as understood by the early settlers in England. and in the parts of our country where Scandinavians made colonies some of these tribal names may still be traced, It is certain also that the inhabitants generally of the coast of Norway and the shore of the Baltic were called Lochlandach or Lakelanders,[23] and traces of them may perhaps be found in England under names derived from this word. ‘Few and far,’ says Stephens, writing of the tribes of Scandinavia, ‘are the lights which glimmer over the clan lands of our forefathers. . . . We may learn a little more in time if we work hard and theorize less. But whatever we can new master as to the Old Northern language we have learnt from the monuments. Those, therefore, we must respect at all hazards, whatever systems may have to give way, even though the upshot should be that much of our boasted modern philology. with its iron laws and straight lines and regular police-ruled developments, is only a house built upon the sand.’[24]"

I wish you all a good summer, I will spend mine by the glimmering lakes of Norway!

fredag 6. mars 2015

To the One

To the One the Crown fits
Rule the Land where Beauty sits
Reign with Love and wise Wits
Abundance made of all the Bits

onsdag 25. februar 2015

Ullr's Alters - Hooked on Hillforts part 4

Ludde has taken his position on the walls
You can read Hooked on Hillforts Part 3 here.

It was dangerous to move on the icy roads without crampons. I had a love-hate relationship with them. I loved that they brought me safely to my destination and I could go almost anywhere I wanted to. I hated them because they were so incredibly tricky to get on. I had for years stood on one leg and dragged the rubber forwards and backwards, while I've jumped around and tried not to fall. The same was repeated each time they fell off. Argh! Then one day I discovered that my neighbor stood watching my artistic yoga movements and fiery red facial complexions. I wondered how long he had been there. "Why don't you just put the crampon on the ground, step on it and pull the rubber over your toes and your heel afterwards? Then you don't have to be sweating before you've started hiking." He said with a dry tone in his voice. "Damn fool," I murmured in my scarf, but I have never done otherwise ever since. I stood with my ass in the air and dragged the rubber over my toes and then over my heels. Unfortunately  I was no longer so used to stand for a long time in that position, but it was at least a little bit better than playing the crane dance.

Then Tina, Ludde and I were going out exploring hillforts. We had ourselves a few cups of coffee before we were to get dressed and get off when Tina suddenly lifted up one of her boots, turned it around with the sole up and elegantly placed the crampons on the boot! When she had done this with both boots she carried them out and took them on outside. "Oh my Gods, Tina, you're so smart," I exclaimed. "This is what it must have felt like for those who once invented the wheel." Tina glanced at me as if she had given me up totally, while she tied her shoelaces, and I was happy to have a problem less.

Ludde had taken his position on the walls. I have to say that he is a rare historically interested dog. His dog candies tasted the best at the top of a hillfort. Kudos to Tina! She was a great dog trainer.. "Look! There is "The Mound by the Farm in a Hole!" I was taken by a Deja Vu moment. One of us had uttered the same magic words at each hillfort we had been to so far: "There -  is -  "The Mound by the Farm in a Hole!" The delicate peak in the east, the eye catching object,  the highlight, the Crescendo! "Why are there no forts on the eastside?" Tina was raised and still lived on the eastside and now she looked skeptical and a little insulted. "Stop whining," I said. "You've got "The Farm devoted to Ullr." The crown jewel on "The Land of the Oaks". "Things have happened there, you know. That is very exciting!" When Tina realized what a treasure she's been living next to, she was a little more willing to discuss the locations of the strongholds. "And "The Farm devoted to Ullr" was located directly below "The Mound by the Farm in a Hole!"

All the hillforts we had been to so far were forming an imaginary border between the village and the Sun in the East, and the mountain behind our backs in the West: "The Mountain of the Farm by the Traveller's Resting Place". Home at "The Farm by the Waterfall", I watched the sun go down over the mountain  many a time. I've seen it disappear into the deep woods, only to rise again from "The Fjord of the Wavy River" in a rift in the landscape. It's not so unthinkable that the same image has enchanted people of all times. The picture on birth, death and rebirth was surely spiritual for a sun-worshiping people who once ruled here. There was also an old "Mound of the Sun" in the same hillside that the forts were located. Was that merely coincidence?

Ludde ran some kind of an agility show over stumps and rocks while we found ourselves a tree each to lean on. The ancient volcano that had once formed the landscape around was a mighty giant image - "The Mound by the Farm in a Hole". Maybe precisely why "The Farm devoted to Ullr", this ancient cult place dedicated to the worship of the god Ullr, right here, protected by a former fire-breathing dragon who had found peace at last. She no longer guarded a treasure.  "The Farm devoted to Ullr" was probably cleared around the year 0. The name originated from the ancient cult site. I thought that it couldn't be a coincidence where such a holy farm was located since we know that the heathen practices were strongly rooted in nature and natural phenomena. As we stood on "The Forts by the Serpent Hill" we saw that "The Farm devoted to Ullr" was situated where the sun rose and where everything in the sky, all the stars and planets came from. Ullr was a Gothic name and meant "shine" or "glory". He was called a "Father Sky" and it was easy to imagine a beautiful sunrise over the east side and get that image to fit with the story. From impaired sources of proto-Indo-European religion, it seems like our Ullr was a cattle god. A cattle god would not necessarily mean that he was a bull, but that he was symbolized by a bull. He protected animal herd for the people who practiced animal husbandry. To cattle gods one sacrificed cattle. By comparison, the god Vulcan from Roman mythology was portrayed as an ox, and in Egyptian mythology there existed  a god Apis depicted as a bull with a sun between the horns. Cattle gods had most likely therefore belonged to a sun-worshiping people.

Ullr was worshipped outdoors, which could imply that Ullr had been venerated where "The Farm devoted to Ullr" laid before the farm was cleared, and that would take us back to the time before the year 0. Agriculture was well established long ago, but the people who lived here was still hunting, fishing and gathering in periods where they did not need to look after the fields, ie seasonal utilization of uncultivated land resources. It was probably very good circumstances for pasturing in the uplands that time as it is now. Then they may well have made up stations in the uplands where they were during their work there. "Ullr" was mighty in Norway, a country where there were mostly mountains and barren forest floor, and not so much agricultural land. "The Land of the Oaks" was one of the few places in what is now called Norway who had particularly good topsoil, but also bordered against a paradise for forest and mountain people: "The Mountain of the Farm by the Traveller's Resting Place". Endless forests went from there and up towards the wild Western Mountains through "The valley of the River of the Boats" On east side laid "The Woods of the Finns". At "The Land of the Oaks" two cultures could easily have coexisted for a long time. Hunterer from the forests and farmers on the flat ground. Ullr was a god of winter. He was an archer and a skiing and skating god, thus he masterly took around in winter. Of course, with that in mind it was easy to see him as a ruler of the forest as well. He was a hunter god which was strongest when others were weakened by the lack of light. He was like his people, only more powerful. Ullr was called on by strife and duel, and they swore oaths on Ullr's ring. Most people would probably argue that Ulls ring was a golden armring, or maybe a finger ring like in "The Lord of the Rings". Maybe they were oval stone rings in the uplands and his dwelling place? Perhaps it was within these stone rings they duelled and came to a settlement in disputes? Was it here that people did handfastings, and took on paternity for children? With the blessings of the Eastern sky - Ullr.

Little did we know where we stood, but it was allowed to marvel, allowed to create some hypotheses. We could just go back on them, change them or create new ones instead. We did know some things, ie. the cult of Ullr existed at "The Land of the Oaks" while these rock formations in the woods were in use. Some stone rings contained graves, and that automatically made them cult places. We could ponder as much as we wanted to about the rest. Was it a Norwegian indigenous people, a forest and mountain tribe that supplied farmers with goods from the uplands? Was it the farmers who built stone temples and had slaves there who extracted metals and hunted animals for them? Was it a priestly caste who lived here in the borderland between the farm and the wilderness, in between life and death, held ceremonies and sacrifices to the gods? There were many questions behind the questions.

On the way down from "The Twin Forts" I noticed that I had lost one of my crampons. Well, I chose to see it as my offering to the winter god Ullr, had he been as powerful today as way back then, he certainly would have been a god of the crampons.



Øystein Koch Johansen, Eikers historie bind 1
Snorre Sturlasson, Edda
Oluf Rygh, "Gamle Gaardnavne"
Proto Indo European religion: http://piereligion.org/pantheon.html
Wikipedia om romersk mytologi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(mythology)Wikipedia om Egyptisk Mytologi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_(god)

søndag 15. februar 2015

Searching for Spring - Hooked on Hillforts part 3

The slide on "The Fort by the High Hill"
You can read Hooked on Hillforts Part 2 here.

I like to go skiing, although I'm not very clever at it. It goes perfectly well with a few simple precautions:

1. Do not go with cheap and old skis that are not supposed to be waxed. They glide exactly when they want to, and that is an interesting challenge when you go downhill
2. Drop the backpack, use a waist bag instead
3. Never embark on a journey if klister is needed

If I can not follow these three commandments, I'd rather hike with crampons so that I don't have to worry about losing my grip, and when I drop the skis, I can gladly walk all the way up to "High Hill".

The spring always comes first to "High Hill" and that is absolutely true. A bit later on in the year when warmer air has begun to make an impression on us, but the snow still lies firmly in "Serpent Hill", I often encounter a border when I arrive at the top of the slope beneath "High Hill". The ground further on can be completely bare.1 The weary dirtroad smells of newly awakened soil and has some delicious, big and wet puddles that I want to jump in, but I confine myself often to watch the clouds reflections instead in case there is a hunter behind a tree that makes me feel stupid. Here the road flattens out and a cliff wall ascends straight into the heavenly realms. While life barely has begun to move further down in the terrain you can meet whizzing bumblebees up here. I might as well could have been a bumblebee. I feel like one of them buzzing around, a little big and clumsy, keen on myself  and rarely distractable. My favorite color is blue, just like theirs.

One spring I embarked on my first cycle ride for the year. All forest roads were virtually bare, but the snow was still pretty thick in shady places inside the forest. I was greeted by a bunch of "Admirals" as I came along the road below "High Hill". I had only been visited by a couple of "Brimstones" at home, but I figured that they were not in charge at this place anymore. They flew on either side of my handlebar, it was five or six of them and they travelled alongside me all the way until we came to the bumblebees. I stopped to enjoy the sun and the sight of the marshlands and beyond. This was a fixed routine for me when I walked or rode over here. I've always felt that it stood out from the rest of the scenery in the middle of the woods, although it was a bit hard to immediately recognize the marsh, some shrubbery grew on it, but it was very nice, almost like a little cauldron in the vast landscape. Having been charging myself up for two or three minutes, I used to walk or ride on, knowing that now I was going downhill all the way back and my batteries were filled up.

When I fell madly in love with forts I was somewhat surprised that there should be one right in the area where I used to do my gazing by the "High Hill". Once again had I been so close to a "what-it-now-really-was" without knowing, and once again had the area been so appealing to me and I had stopped so many times right there because it was so lovely to be there. The time had come to find the fort, and all I had to help me was a roughly description of where it should be, no path or no map. I felt that I began to be quite an experienced stone fortress explorer. I knew now that I should find the second highest peak in the area and then it was all quite simple, so simple that I thought that I actually had time to have a snack. I had brought with me this exclusive, flat packed coffee, that's supposed to be filled up with hot water, so one can enjoy it freshly prepared. I just have to say one thing about that. It was of course very fancy, something which in the first place basically tricked me into buying it, but all the while I brew the coffee it got lukewarm and it tasted like cheap instant anyway, and what was really the point for me when I needed to bring with me water anyway? In the sad state our planet has come into it was impossible to drink water straight from the stream to boil it anyways. Next time I had go go back to the regular instant coffee again. I packed my rucksack, straightened up and let my eyes sweep over the place. In which direction should I go? I saw a peak right before me, and I thought that must be the place, so I did not go there. I went where I thought it would not be, and boy - I was right! Hah! Great strategy, I'll use the same tactic several times.

At the top of the fort, I performed my usual ritual. I walked along the walls - clockwise - very important and considered the area. Here was an old stone heap marking a property boundary, here was a view to "The Wavy River" and here was a natural slide - from rocks that disappeared into the vegetation below. Above me loomed "High Hill" and I recalled that I had read somewhere that this place had been called "The Fort at the Place beneath the Hill". I sat here and felt really both empty and abandoned, and thought that I was very exposed for an arrow attack from above. It turned out that there were some others who had thought the same thing, and one of them thought about it so much that he chose the socalled strongholds around "Serpent Hill" and researched them.2 What he found out was quite startling. He found that by this very fort people had kept livestock and cultivated grain as far back as the year 2500 BCE. He believed that there were several indicators that a separate outfield culture stayed here, maybe periodically, which reaped all the resources and that they might have been bartered with farmers in the village. No arrowheads or weapons were found here. The fort was not placed on the best viewpoint for keeping control of travelling routes or at the most appropriate place to burn cairns. Who would burn a huge bonfire in their livingrooms anyway? It would have been too great a risk of catching fire and burning everything down. The mound it was placed upon was easy to approach and then one would think that the stonework should be correspondingly high and strong, but it was not. It was relatively slender and small, and below the plateau of the fort was no trace of collapsed walls. It would topographically be quite easy for an enemy to take a different path past the strongholds if one didn't want to be detected. It seemed very unlikely that it should have been used as a refuge for the village people, it was way too small. Most of the scholars thought that hill forts were built and used during the migration period, but some of them suggested a multi functionality for them, and these forts at "Serpent Hill" had not been set up initially as defense fortresses or control posts. They might have been abandoned and later been used with this purpose for example in the migration period, but even this is unlikely because of the simple walls. The stones may actually have been set up to shield access to cultic rituals performed by an ancient Germanic brotherhood.

With this in mind I sauntered quietly down from the hillock, while questions hammered my head. Was it really like that? Who were those people? What did they do here? How did they live? What was their worldview? This trip made me more tired in my head than in my legs.

Go to "Hooked on Hillforts Part 4"

1. I think our old friend, the wood harvester has been in the hills around here as well, and made this nature experience a little less special, but you can still feel the strength of the sun beneath "High Hill" in spring.

2. Tryggve Bernt, Bygdeborgene: Tid for revurdering? En analyse basert på fire bygdeborger i Øvre Eiker, Buskerud

fredag 6. februar 2015

The Very First Time - Hooked on Hillforts Part 2

Some of the walls from "The Twin Forts"
You can read Hooked on Hillforts Part 1 here.

I picked two forts that lie right beside each other as my first forts to go visit. They are called "The Twin Forts". I strode out in the car with my local history book1 under my forearm and a rucksack filled with candy and coffee to drive the few kilometers from where I live in Serpent Hill and up to "Junger Lake". I knew I couldn't use too much energy to get myself into the scenery - I HAD to save my energy so I could stumble around in the woods. This could become a tiring experience with my sense of direction. People get a little shocked when they come hiking with me, because they think that I am so incredibly vigorous because I spend so much time in the woods. Fact is that I am more concerned with my food, my coffee and my chocolate than to blast my physical boundaries. I'm not necessarily moving very far in the terrain although I am gone for a long time!

I've seen many of the famous outdoor explorers on TV and they usually always have a plan. I like plans. I made a plan for this trip a little bit inspired by those celebrities and other leprechauns I've read about in books, My plan was to have enough chocolate in case I run out of energy to avoid spending too much of my long stored body fat. It could be fatal. I knew that for sure. Another part of my plan was to bring with me home made mittens that my colleague, Kristine,  had knitted for me. The weather was grey and cold and with my great resting experience I knew that I was going to insanely hurt my fingers when I sit down to eat. I would drive up to "Junger Lake" and go from there to "The Twin Forts", then go farther to the "Goat Mountain", then return to the car and drive up to the old seat and go from there to the "High Hill Fort". Hallelujah, what a challenge! I knew I had no trails to follow because there were none marked on my map, and I don't like to go outside well trodden paths when Thomas is not with me, for he is my living compass. He MUST have been a migrating bird in a previous life. Certainly.

Arriving at "Junger Lake". I take one last check in my book to see where I should go. My book has a whole chapter on forts and I thought that I almost had it all memorized at the time, but it was something I had overlooked and that was how little detailed the map was. Ooompfh, that was a bit stupid because I did not bother to bring with me the real map of the area just to keep the weight on my back down. I've heard that it is important to keep the weight down. That's why I thought that I might as well be keeping more weight down by leaving the book in the car. Yes! Did you notice how smart I was? I sometimes surprise myself with being so smart!

I took my rucksack on my back, and trudged up the hillside on the left side of the "Junger Lake". (Sure, I know that one can not talk about left and right out in the woods, but it was a bit difficult for me to point out the directions when it was cloudy, and I guess everyone understands well what I mean?) I thanked the gods someone had recently wreaked havoc on the entire area with a harvester. It might have become a little harder to walk in all the mud puddles and over slippery twigs, but it was very much easier to find  the highest peak around. What I had always known about forts was that they would be on high ground to have a good view of the main waterways which in this case would be the "Lake of the Oaks" and the "Wavy River". I could see both of them at the highest hillock in the area although if there had been trees there, then I don't think I would have seen so much. It was very nice although it certainly would have been much cozier if it had been a little bit of shrubbery left. I never would have understood that this thing once had been a stone fortress if it wouldn't have been for reading about it beforehand. I just couldn't comprehend how anyone could call any of these randomly shattered rocks for walls? The wind was very cold on top of this hill without trees. I was happy that I had brought with me mittens, and then I took them on, really satisfied by my planning skills. I knew that I needed a rest, for I had walked for about 500 meters in very rough terrain (due to the  "# ¤% harvester) and I needed to warm myself up with some hot liquids, so I looked for the nearest place it would be possible to sit sheltered from the wind. It's not that I like to brag, but finding good picnic areas is actually something I'm very good at!

I went down from the hillock in a kind of a crack in the mound and found a completely circular spot of bog. Wow! There are some things that are impossible to capture with a camera, and one of these things is the intense feeling I had when I stood right there. The only one who could possibly do it must be Dagfinn Kolberg, the famous Norwegian wildlife photographer. I could certainly not do it, even though I tried very hard. The bog was like a small hole surrounded by two mountain sides that stood straight up in the sky. It felt a bit like sitting on the lap of Mother Earth. It was safe and warm there even though the wind blew on the peaks. I disengaged myself from the wonderful feeling of being taken care of and went farther into the fine scenery. Then I found them! The walls! Exactly! No wonder why I didn't understand that I had seen the ruins of a fort when it actually wasn't a fort I had been to. There was no doubt that this was the real fort. I leapt uphill and was in ecstasy.I saw the contours of another fort nearby after having inspected the walls up on the fort. It was only a mini gorge in between, and I felt like I could have been "Ronia" from "Ronia the Robber's Daughter2", the novel. Two forts with a crack in between that separated them. I wondered if there was a handsome "Birk" on the other side? I got over the gorge and found nothing but a nice view to the east end of the village, the "Wavy River", and the vast marshland below me. Anyways, that was fine for an established and steady lady at my age who normally appreciate a spectacular view over a man. At least was this a very nice place to have a rest.

I joined my best hiking companions; the chocolate and my coffee thermos, while I thought that this probably had been part of a defense system. Carbon dating methods have shown that hill forts were here around the Migration Period (about 400-600 CE.) There are many forts on "The Land of the Oaks" and they should all be in direct or indirect sight of each other. The guardians on the forts would kindle beacons to warn the people of the valley so they could get themselves and their livestock to one of the forts that also was used as strongholds when enemies were spotted on "The Lake of the Oaks" or "The Wavy River". These strongholds were almost impregnable because of their locations in the landscape with cliffs on several sides and high walls with wooden palisades where the entrances must have been. I tried to see it all before my eyes, thinking that "The Twin Forts" gave a very strong sense of peace. It was hard to imagine that there would have been attacks from enemies here in this mood. Perhaps it was a very safe haven that never got attacked, far away in the woods as it is. They had everything they needed of food and drink. There was plenty of water nearby, venison to hunt and fish to catch. I also think that all the different forts around here may have had separate features. When one place served as a guarding fort and lit the fire, the villagers seeked refuge in other forts some distance away. Otherwise it would surely become very easy for the enemy to find people if they went after the flames. It struck me that the area was not so big inside the walls of the fort where I was, and I thought that it could not have been so many families who stayed there. It seemed to me that it was perhaps a little strange if people from several farms took refuge in this same little spot with their livestock. They believe that hill forts on "The Land of the Oaks" were attached to a mighty center and they think that this center may have been Haug (The Mound) or Lunde (The Grove) because we know that these farms have been great and powerful at a past time. Maybe the chieftain wanted the forts to loom in the terrain and scare the enemy away, or maybe some of them were the status symbols of the past? There is also a theory that the enemy may have come from the west, ie over the mountains, based on the locations of the following forts "The Fort near the Land where Ull was worshipped", "The Castle near the Farm by the Bog", "The Mountain of the Walls" and "The Fort near the Farm with Delimited Land",  but then it is not so likely that the forts' main purposes were to control the waterways.

I knew that I had more forts to visit. I packed my rucksack quickly and completed the rest of my planned trip, and I will write about that later.

Go to "Hooked on Hillforts Part 3"

1 Holtefjellboka by Per Ivar Søbstad
2 Ronia the Robber's Daughter, a famous novel by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronia_the_Robber%27s_Daughter

fredag 30. januar 2015

Hooked on Hillforts

Patrik on the top of "The Castle near the Farm by the Bog". 
My dear fiancée Thomas read in the local newspaper for a good while ago, that "Eiker" (The Land of the Oaks 1) history group invited to a lecture by archaeologist Tryggve Bernt. He had written a thesis on four specific hill forts in the area and would now present it at an open meeting at "Ormåsen(Serpent Hill1) School". Since we live a five minutes walk from this particular school it was very convenient for me to join the meeting, so I threw myself on the phone to my best friend, Tina, and said that she just had to rearrange her schedule, because we are going to a lecture.  As the history-geek I am, I've been roaming around in Norse stories of heroes and gone astray in the Eddas more than once, but isn't that the way it should be? Those things that are close to us are those things we don't take the hassle of exploring? I grew up on "Fossum" (The Farm by the Waterfall1), on "Varlo"2 with "Myhre Castle" (The Castle near the Farm by the Bog1) as my nearest neighbor, but I have never bothered to visit this monument, I have always heard that there are only a few stacked rocks there, and I have always wanted to get myself further into the woods. To the "Hoen's Lake" (The Lake belonging to the Farm with the Hof3) and "Holtefjell" (The Mountain of the Farm by the Traveller's Resting Place1) and the main hiking paths, and then I have taken the other way up to the mountains past "Bermingrudmoen" (The Flat Heath in the Forest that belongs to the Farm that has been cleared at the Edge6)  and "Himsjø" (The Closest Lake to Home1), because this was the shortest way for me.

When Thomas and I decided to buy ourselves our own house, we ended up in "Serpent Hill". It suited us well. A small garden plot to groom was fine if we would have children, and it was also great to be so close to the woods. We could tie our hiking boots right in our own backyard, throw the backpacks on our backs and start walking! Fantastic!

We threw ourselves on our newly purchased mountain bikes one day about 12 years ago. We still have the same bikes, and I am not quite sure if that is because of the good quality of the bikes or if it could mean that we haven't used them as much as expected by the producer? I prefer to think that it has something to do with the quality of these bikes. In fact they have been used a lot, if not daily, then at least fairly evenly in the summer, and just this day we hobbled around on and off the trails around the "Serpent Hill". Thomas rode suddenly out into the wildest blueberry bushes and I had no choice but to try to hang onto his back, otherwise he would have cycled from me and I just wouldn't let him do that. Today I can not remember where we were, and not Thomas either, but what happened was thus that we found some long rows of stacked stones far into the woods, completely off the tracks, no paths or roads nearby. I thought that there had to be something old, but that it perhaps was only a stone fence of an old disused seat, but the more we thought about it, the more we started wondering if this could be the ruins of such a stone fortress as we knew there should be several of nearby?

We never found these stones again, and we've tried to look many times. Maybe we almost got "taken by the rocks4" as we have heard about in Norwegian fairy tales, but luckily got away? Anyway, at that time we had a neighbor who was acquainted in the forests here and he could confirm that it sounded like we had come across a stone fortress, but - no, there was no known forts in the area we had been. Well, I still think about the stone wall. Can not get it out of my head.

Then we went on this lecture, Tina and I. There we learned about new datings. Some of the forts, like the ones by the lake "Junger"5,  had to be older than previously thought. Tina and I
travelled around to see some of them. We went to the "Tvillingborgene" (Twin Forts1) by the "Junger Lake", "Geiteberget" (Goat Mountain1). "Høgåsen" (The High Hill1), "The Castle near the Farm by the Bog" and "Gunhildrud" (The clearing of a woman called Gunhild1) . There are many forts we haven't visited, and there are several we have been to many times like "The Castle near the Farm by the Bog" for instance with its fantastic view.

I sat on top of "The Castle near the Farm by the Bog" at December 21th and watched the first sunrise of the year. Yes, for me the year really starts with the first sunrise after the winter solstice. It was absolutely amazing. A small cloud on the horizon formed a colourful artwork as this lifegiving round fireball was born over a ridge where I know "The Brekke Castle" (The Castle near the Farm between two Meadows1) is. There were rainbow clouds higher up in the sky, and a white woolen blanket of fog that came into the valley from "Drammenselva" (The Wavy River1) and showed me how high the water once might have been before the blanket slowly rolled back to where it came from. A black woodpecker chopped in a dry spruce beside me. The same woodpecker that was drumming a welcome solo for me last autumn at the exact same place before the frost came and invited me to other trips. I felt that I met an old friend. There I was with a torch that I had lit before the Sun was born again, and felt a little like I belonged to an old Germanic tribe. I wonder if some of them also sat by a fire and wished the Sun welcome here at the same peak?

The Sun grows stronger during the month of January. It is mild and little snow this year, and Tina and I could have ourselves a Sunday walk on the trails in the woods by "Grøsland" (The Rocky Land1). We brought coffee in the bag, and the dog Ludde, our faithful companion, an aussie terrier who loves to explore the ruins of forts. But now we are not actually exploring forts - really. We are just on a usual roaming and relaxing trip when I want to show Tina a nice viewpoint on "Hønerudåsen" (The Hill by the Clearing of a Farm that held Hens1) and we went out of the path to find it. We walked around in the area, when Tina said: "Dear, Filidh, this is exactly the same landscape as castles we've been to before. This slightly marked high point diving down on several sides and a top beyond that again that is a little bit higher. There are a lot of rocks here below the cliff. Or is it a collapsed wall?" Ludde was in ecstasy. He jumped around like he usually did every time we were on the track of a castle, but I'm a little unsure if he felt our enthusiasm and reflected us, or whether he actually is a small castle dog? In any case he behaved like an avalanche dog that had found a missing person. We began to take a closer look at the area, but ran out of time. The Sun was soon about to go down, and none of us had neither the headlamps nor the sense of direction, so we'd rather come out of the woods before it got too dark. We agreed to go back one day, to look for walls or other indicators that there may once have been a castle there.

The snow arrived a few days later, and we had to wait until springtime.

Go to "Hooked on Hillforts Part 2"

1. I have translated the old Norwegian place names into English, because I think those names tell a story about what the landscape and culture must have been like in the old times. Those place names that are not recognizable in modern Norwegian is translated to Norwegian by "Oluf Rygh". You can find an online search engine based on "Rygh's" work (Gamle Gaardnavne) on the internetsite of the "University of Oslo":

2. Nobody knows for sure what the name of "Varlo" really means. I am doing research on this issue according to my research of the hillforts in the area, and will publish an article on this as soon as it is finished.

3. One cannot be quite sure what "Hoen" might mean, but it's most likely it means "The Farm with the Hof". "Hof" or "Hov" is an old sacred place indoors used for the purpose of worshipping the heathen Gods and Goddesses. 

4. One example of a fairy tale containing this phenomenon is "Bergtatt" and can be read here:

5. The meaning of the name "Junger" is not known.

6. The exact translation of the name "Bermingrud" was not found in the project of "University of Oslo", but it was guiding me in a direction to an old spelling "Barmen" of the same name and Kongsberg Kommune had an explanation: