The heart of Norwegian consciousness

Photo: Bjoertvedt / Wikimedia Commons The view from atop Snøhetta.

Photo: Bjoertvedt / Wikimedia Commons
The view from atop Snøhetta.

Finn Roed
West Bloomfield, Mich.

Dovre is a huge area in the central part of Norway. Dovre in Gudbrandsdalen is an area in Oppland, Norway, consisting of 12 municipalities, with a population of about 70,000 people. Lillehammer is probably the most famous city within it. Dovre Mountain was earlier thought to be the highest mountain in the area, but it is the second highest after Jotunheimen. Snøhetta is the highest mountain in the Dovrefjell range. And it is here, in Dovre, in the Gudbrandsdalen valley from which many fjords have their beginnings, that the Norwegian consciousness is rooted.

“Enig og tro til Dovre faller” (United and loyal until Dovre falls) is how the Constitutional fathers of 1814 ended their work. That is what they swore to—to Dovre, not to a king or to God. If you belong to Sons of Norway, you too uttered the phrase, “Enig og tro til Dovre faller.”

Photo: Carl S Bjurstedt / Dovrefjellrådet / Wikimedia Commons The national park monument at Hjerkinn, near National Route E6, with the mountain Snøhetta in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park in the background.

Photo: Carl S Bjurstedt / Dovrefjellrådet / Wikimedia Commons
The national park monument at Hjerkinn, near National Route E6, with the mountain Snøhetta in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park in the background.

According to NRK and Arne Sørenes, Gro Steinsland, a retired professor from the University of Oslo, has researched the history and mythology of Dovre for several years and has written a book on the subject. It was natural for the founding fathers to swear cooperation with Dovre, because Dovre was the meeting place and symbol of cooperation in Viking times and even deeper into saga times.

Apparently, a single ruler, Haakon Jarl, born in 935, was called “Dovrekongen” (King of Dovre) in a poem from Viking times. He was a renowned fighter. The poem was the first source showing Dovre as a symbol of the country.

There’s a lot more to this story, and I invite you to search for it.

Dovre was the oldest symbol of Norway with which the forefathers were acquainted, and they wanted to build the new constitution on history—and on something solid enough to last the test of time.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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