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Vest Agder - History

 

Deep Historical Roots

The oldest traces of settlement in Vest- Agder go back about 8000 years, perhaps even more. It is estimated that the coast has been ice- free fro about 11000years. Thereafter the hunters and trappers settled in an area where the climate was similar to that of present- day Svalbard or the west coast of Greenland. Along this coast they found fish, shellfish and seals. In the hills there were reindeer, moose, deer and bears.
Archaeological finds prove that many places along the coast were inhabited already in the Stone Age. The inland area remained unsettled until much later. The weapons and tools which have been found from this period show a similar construction to those used in England and on the European continent at the time. Even the contact by sea was widespread. Bronze Age stone carvings on the Lista Peninsula show stylized ships with elegant curves and elongated keels.  Among the stone carvings you also find saucer like figures which are sun symbols. Through the worship of the sun and ships the Bronze Age man would ensure success for his agricultural and seafaring endeavors. In fact it has been farming and shipping which have provided the livelihood for the majority of the residents of Vest- Agder until recent times.
 
Historians claim that the almost deserted interior regions of Vest- Agder were not populated until the century after the birth of Christ. During the so called “Great Migration” in the fifth and sixth centuries there was a considerable amount of mobility within the country. Only then was the county settled from the mountains to the seashore. This population growth continued throughout the Viking Age.
 
When the Viking expeditions were over the population had to once again resort to what natural resources the land had to offer.  Because most of the land was now cultivated the county was then too densely populated. Land could not be cleared quickly enough to keep up with the demands of the growing population.  For many people it was a constant struggle for survival. This situation continued until 1300 when the Black Death- brutally wiped out almost two thirds of the country’s population. It is said that many parishes in Vest- Agder were deserted after the catastrophe. It wasn’t until the seventeenth century that the population reached its former heights. Once again there was a rivalry for land acquisition, but now farming was not the only option.

 

 


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last updated:  20.07.2007