The Nordvegen History Centre at Avaldnes tells the story of how Avaldsnes became Norway’s oldest royal seat. Movies, figures, lights, symbols and finds will help you learn about Harald Fairhair and some of the chieftains and kings who lived at Avaldsnes both before and after his time.
There is also a reconstructed Viking farm with a longhouse, a boathouse for a Viking warship, a roundhouse and several other buildings.
St Olaf's Church
St Olaf’s church was built by King Haakon Haakonsson around 1250 as part of the royal manor complex. Norway’s tallest standing stone, Virgin Mary’s Sewing Needle, leans heavily against the church wall.
The Royal Manor
See the ruins of the medieval royal manor. The main building of the manor was excavated in 2017. Haakon Haakonson started to build the royal hall around 1250 and Håkon V Magnusson completed the building around 1300.
Signposts along the cultural paths tell about burial mounds, standing stones and sites for historical events.
Avaldsnes was a royal seat from approximately 200-1400. Some of the kings that lived here we know from the Norse sagas. Others have become known to us through archaeological digs, monumental burial mounds, standings stones and rich finds.
Skaldic poems and Norse sagas tell that Avaldsnes was the principal royal manor of Harald Fairhair, the king who unified Norway c.870. Harald lived here, died here and was buried close to the strait of Karmsund.
Avaldsnes continued to be a royal residence for Harald’s descendants. Among these were Eric Bloodaxe, Haakon the Good, Olav Tryggvason, St Olaf, Haakon Haakonson and Haakon V Magnusson.
The first kings at Avaldsnes were sea-kings, who had the sea as their domain. Throughout the centuries, the sea-king milieu at Avaldsnes acquired a superb competence in ship technology, maritime skills and maritime warfare. Ship finds from the area also suggest that the sailing Viking ship was developed here.
The North Way
Avaldsnes is located by the narrow strait of Karmsund at the entrance to the fairway northwards. This was Norðvegr (the North Way), the sailing route that gave Norway its name. From here, the rulers at Avaldsnes controlled the shipping traffic that went up and down the Norwegian coast and, from here, they sent their own ships across the sea.
The strategic location by the strait of Karmsund was the main reason why the kings settled at Avaldsnes. Another reason was that Avaldsnes gained a mythical position as the sacred place where the kings could prove that they were descendants of the Gods.
According to the sagas, Odin himself visited Avaldsnes in 998 and told stories about the heathen kings that were descendants of the gods and the ancestors of many kings at Avaldsnes.
Edda poems and star-shaped stone-settings associate Avaldsnes with an Yggdrasil cult and with Thor, the god that protected society from destructive beings.
Season - Months Open
All year round
Includes Nordvegen History Centre and the Viking Farm