People and Myths
Rogaland has taken its name from the people called the "Ryger", which means
"those who sow grain". They were probably people from the Germanic tribe
However, myth tells another story. The old kings of Rogaland traced their
ancestry back to Fornjot himself, one of the first beings created when the
world emerged from the meeting of fire and ice. The descendants of Fornjot
were the forces of nature. From them, the kings Rugalf and Rognvald were
born, and it was in honour of them the region was named Rogaland. Legendary
sagas and songs describe dramatic tales of Rognvald’s descendants, the kings
who ruled Rogaland through turbulent times.
During the Bronze Age, the people of Rogaland changed the landscape with
their burial mounds. Norway’s largest collection of burial mounds dating
from this time run in a straight line from east to west across the island of
Karmøy. It’s obvious that these mounds were constructed to face the open
sky; perhaps in the hope that the sun god would find his way across the
bridge of heaven.
Mounds are scattered across Jæren, telling of a culture in which women had a
central role. Large bronze necklaces have been found in several places in
the moorlands of Rogaland, indicating offerings to a female deity. Perhaps
these were for Nerthus, the earth goddess who lived on a sacred island. Åmøy,
with its many rock carvings, is one such island. People gathered here, in
the centre of Rogaland, to perform rituals to ensure a plentiful harvest.