In the late 19th century a new and complete land registry was compiled in Norway. A central member of the land register commission was the Norwegian philologist and archaeologist Oluf Rygh. On the basis of his work in the commission, Rygh started to publish a complete catalogue over the names of the main Norwegian farms (45 000 in 1886). For each farm the name is given together with its pronunciation, etymology and reported variants in an impressive list of historical sources. The editing and publication of the catalogue was done over nearly 40 years and was completed long after Rygh's death. The etymological explanations are coloured by the desire of the national romantic movement to find the original name. In Norway at the turn of the century this meant an Old Norse name. In Southern Norway most names have an Old Norse origin. In Northern Norway there are lots of Norwegian sounding place names with a Saami origin. This fact and the still existing, though not very serious, cultural conflict between the Norwegian and the Saami population imply that some parts of Rygh's work should be used with care. The huge number of references to name variants in the historical sources, however, makes the work very important for archaeologists, historians and people doing place-name studies. It may also help geneologist to identify farms. The catalogue does not contain any information about the people living on the farms. When you have identified a farm we recommend you to go to The draft land registry from 1950 containing all real estates outside the cities with the name of the owner in 1950 or to the various consensus at The digital Norwegian National Archives.
The entire catalogue has been converted by the Documentation Project into an electronic text with SGML mark up. The source references to Diplomatarium Norvegicum (a collection of medival documents concerning Norway) are made into Internet links. A click will bring you to the electronic Diplomatarium.
The database currently covers the following volumes of O. Rygh's series on Norwegian farm names: 1 through 12, 14, 15 and 17. These volumes cover farm names in the following modern counties (fylke) Østfold (Smaalenenes amt), Akershus og Oslo (Akershus amt), Hedmark (Hedemarkens amt), Oppland (Kristians amt), Buskerud (Buskeruds amt), Vestfold (Jarlsberg og Larviks amt), Telemark (Bratsberg amt), (Aust-Agder (Agdenes amt),Vest-Agder (Lister og Mandals amt), Rogaland (Stavanger amt), Hordaland (Søndre Bergenhus amt), Sogn og fjordane (Nordre Bergenshus), Sør-Trøndelag (Søndre Trondhjems amt), Nord-Trøndelag (Nordre Trondhjems amt) and Troms (Tromsø amt). The names in parenthesis are the older county names used in this database.
The three remaining volumes (13:Møre og Romsdal, 16:Nordland and 18:Finnmark) will be added in a few months time.
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