It can often be difficult to find the name of a particular place or farm when searching for ancestors in Norway. I want to draw your attention to three tools that has been invaluable in my genealogical work.
You might find it useful to read my article “Norwegian farm structure” before you go on reading this.
It is important to remember that the same names may have been slightly differently. The people writing down the records (ministers, census workers, tax collectors, etc.) often just spelled the farm name the way that it sounded to them.
Oluf Rygh’s “Norske Gaardnavne” – Norwegian Farmnames.
This was originally published, printed in 17 volumes in the late 1800’s. Today these books are digitized and made searchable on the internet. You can find it here.
The interface is fairly self-explanatory. I advise you to read the little introduction at the top of the page. The database is indexed according to the name of the counties (amt) as they were at the time the books were written. Also, be aware that the municipality-, and parish boundaries may have changed. Even if you don’t know anything about these details you can still use this database with ease as you can go straight to the “Farm name” and type in what you are looking for.
If you type in the name slowly letter by letter, a drop-down menu appear and show you how you are doing. This can be helpful if you are not certain about the spelling of the name. If the drop-down menu disappear before you are finished typing, the name is either misspelled or not included in this database. As the spelling of names has changed through time it can be smart to play a little with this drop-down menu as it can help you find names that are similar, and may turn out to be the one you are looking for.
The drop-down feature also works for the other search fields in the form.
Hitting “Search” will bring up a list of the farm/farms with the name you typed. The list will show you the farmnumber (second column), parish (third column), municipality (fourth column) and finally the county/amt (fifth column). In the first column are boxes that you can check for the farm/farms you want to have a look at and hit “Show”.
Searching for names like Berg, Haug and Li will give you a large number of hits, so you might want to print the entire list as reference as you are working to narrow your search.
Oluf Rygh’s “Norske Gaardnavne” – Norwegian Farmnames is not complete so when I don’t find what I am looking for there, I go to Se eiendom.
Se eiendom is a online map showing all the properties in Norway with boundaries, farm- and subdivision numbers. (Gards- og bruks nummer). You might want to have a look at my article “Norwegian farm structure“.
Se eiendom can be accessed here.
This map service is only provided in Norwegian. Again, the interface is fairly easy to use. You enter the name in the search field and hit “Søk” – Search. As in Oluf Rygh there is a drop-down menu to help you enter the name. Certain names will give you a large number of hits. Each hit is presented with three lines:
Here I searched for Berg which is a name that brings up a large number of hits. The screen grab above show only a few of the hits:
- Line: The name you searched for; Berg. In parenteses it says (Grend) which means that this hit refer to a hamlet named Berg
- Line: Kommune – Municipality, with administrative number. Here in the municipality of Åseral
- Line: County. Here Vest Agder.
The next hit refer to a church (Kirke) named Berg that is in the municipality of Trondheim in Sør Trøndelag county
The last hit refer to a bridge (Bru) named Berg in the municipality of Kongsberg.
If you get only one hit for the name you are searching, the map will automatically zoom in on this spot. If you get multiple hits, the map will zoom in on the first hit. You can then scroll down through the hits and click on the one you want to check out. This will zoom the map in on this spot.
As you will se by visiting the website, the map has great clarity and detail. By clicking anywhere on the map a menu appear:
This show the exact coordinates of the property. The address, the farm and subdivision number (here 3/10)and again, the municipality. You can move on from this menu under “Funksjoner” – Functions: “Marker eiendom” means “highlight property”. This show you the extent of the property on the map. “Vis mer informasjon om eiendommen” brings you to another menu:
A lot of the information in this menu is mainly technical details about the property. I have marked some entries that might be of interest for genealogists.
- This line show the name of this particular subdivision (bruksnavn). In this case it is Underberg
- This line show in what parish this property is situated (Kirkesogn) Here; Åseral. Beware! This is based on the present parish boundaries. It may not be in the same parish as it was in the year 1780.
- This section show the function of the different buildings on the property. Depending on what kind of property you are looking at, this information may or may not be relevant or interesting.
The third source for finding Norwegian place names is “Matrikkelutkastet 1950”. This is a draft for a property register that was made in 1950.
This is a list of about 85 000 properties in Norway. This list does only contain properties in the rural districts, so the towns are not included. The county of Finnmark is not included either. You should note that since 1950 many rural municipalities has been united with cities, so if the farm you are looking for today is within a city municipality it might not have been so in 1950.
The area we live in was part of the old Skjevik farm. We are today within the borders of the town Molde. In 1950 this area was part of the municipality of Bolsø, thus it is included in the “matrikkelutkast.
The interface is only in Norwegian, but it is fairly straight forward. If you know what farm you are looking for you can go through the menu choosing county, municipality and farm. You then get a list of the sub-divisions (bruk). In the list that appeare, the number on top (in bold) is the farm number (Gardsnummer) the numbers below is the sub-division number (bruksnummer).
You can use the search option, by typing in the name of the farm you are looking for. Note; the search engine searches within the choice you have made in the hierarchy on the left. If you have no idea where the property you search for are situated, make sure you are at the list if counties when you make your search. If you know what county you want to search, choose the county name before you make your choice. Likewise if you want to restrict your search to a municipality.
By using the %-signs you can search for places that contains the word you search for. If you type %vik% you will get a list of all the place names in Norway that contain the word “vik”. This gives you large number of results that can be time-consuming to go through. You might try to think of a letter that can be added to focus the search.
This was a little introduction to how you can search for place names. I have used both Oluf Rygh’s “Norske Gaardnavne” – Norwegian Farmnames, Se Eiendom and Matrikkelutkastet 1950 in my own genealogy research. I hope you find this information useful. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments on this topic. There may be things that should be added or things that needs clarification. Go to contact and send me a word.
Another good map is found at Norgeskart.no The user-interface is in Norwegian, but it is quite self-explanatory.
For more information about Norwegian geography check out Former municiaplities in Norway