Sarpsborg is 1000 years old!
Leslee Lane Hoyum
“Today Sarpsborg is a vibrant city in Østfold,” said His Majesty King Harald V during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Genesis sculpture in Sarpsborg. “The sculptor produced a young Olav as a contemporary young man with great potential and ambitious goals for the future. It suits the occasion well, especially when one has reached a significant age, as is the case with Sarpsborg.
“On a spring day in 1016, King Olav Haraldsson, later St. Olav, sailed up the Glomma River with his Viking ship,” continued His Majesty. “On his way along the river, he spied a promontory with a huge waterfall, Sarpefossen. He saw it as an ideal place to build a castle. He built a 2,133-foot-long and 23-foot-high wall that enclosed the whole area. Inside he plotted out streets and lots so that merchants and craftsmen could settle there.
“King Olav Haraldsson also established a church and a royal residence with a large farm, which he named Borg. The close proximity to the waterfalls gave Sarpsborg its name, ‘The city by the falls,’” King Harald conveyed.
Thousands of Sarpsborg residents and visitors watched as King Harald cut the ribbon at the dedication of the Genesis sculpture. Thousands more greeted and cheered him on as he visited Sarpsborg’s new Olav’s Hall and attended a very special worship service at the ruins of the St. Nikolas Church at Borgarsyssel Museum. Thereafter, the king took leave, but the festivities continued.
It was a week to promote understanding, which included a peace forum and family reunions. A week of culture with art exhibits, street performers, and concerts. It was a week of religious reflection with special worship services in all churches of all faiths, and it celebrated the return of the Sarpsborg pilgrims who followed St. Olav’s path to his resting place in the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. And, of course, history was relived in the Viking village and through lectures that allowed people to not only understand their past but also realize that they are creating a legacy for tomorrow. But, most certainly, at the heart of the celebration were the people of Sarpsborg.
It has been an honor to tell you about my grandfather Johannes Olsen Lanne’s (John Lane) hometown of Sarpsborg these past few years. There still are events that will celebrate Sarpsborg during 2016, but the week of July 25 was extraordinary. I highly encourage you to put Sarpsborg on your “go to” list for future trips to Norway. Its history is fascinating, it’s one of Norway’s leading industrial cities, and its people are kind and reserved.
I personally want to thank the following people for all the help I received over the years: Mayor Sindre Martinsen-Evje, former mayor Jan Engsmyr, Unni Elisabeth Skaar, Siri Braadland Harborg, Erling Bakken, Morten Nielsen, Henrik Diskerud Meyer, Hilde Øisang, Marry Raadahl, Helge Skånlund, Kai Robert Johansen, Thomas Andersen, The Norwegian American and, most of all, my husband, George Hoyum. For all of them and the people of Sarpsborg, I say, Gratulerer med tusenårsjubileet!
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.