Place talk:Norway


Place page names - defining a standard [3 December 2013]

I would like to define the standard for place-naming in Norway, for places other than counties and municipalities. I encourage others to participate in this discussion so that we can have a standard in place sometime in 2014.


First, just to be clear, municipalities are named (current and appropriate standard):

municipality, county, Norway


Many parishes are essentially the same as municipalities, and likely will not get their own pages. However, when parishes are not the same as municipalities, I would suggest that they be named:

parish, county, Norway

with an "also located in" for the municipality they are wholly (or mostly) in, if applicable. This standard would handle both parishes that are part of a larger municipality, as well as parishes that contain multiple municipalities.


For farms (gårder), I would suggest:

gård, municipality, county, Norway

Most Bygdebøker that I have seen cover all the farms in a single municipality, so it is relatively easy to determine which municipality a farm is in (unless you don't know where in Norway the farm is), and this handles the great duplication of farm names better than skipping over the municipality name would.

Another question to address for gårder is whether there is justification in adding a place page for a place such as Sauer, Heddal, Telemark, Norway. Oluff Rygh's catalogue lists Sauer nordre, farm number 2, Sauer lille, farm number 3, Sauer Midgaard, farm number 4 and Sauer søndre, farm number 5. Similar situations exist for other farms where Rygh's catalogue has a XXX nordre and a XXX søndre, but older records might only have XXX (or at least people's names in the records only indicate XXX).

Bruk [12 December 2013]

For farm holdings (bruk), I would suggest either of the following:

use the gård name and put the bruk name (and optionally number(s)) in the description field
bruk [under gård], municipality, county, Norway - where "under gård" is added when there is more than one bruk with the same name in the same municipality (i.e., when it is used in the source to distinguish one bruk from another).

While we could accommodate both styles for bruk, it would be nice to standardize on one. I was leaning towards the former, partly to keep the number of place pages down, and partly because the definition of a bruk seems to be able to change over time, and a single name can cover multiple holdings (evidenced by multiple bruknummers). But looking at other people's data, I am not so sure. It would be nice if someone living in Norway would provide an opinion.

An alternative for bruk (if we decide to create separate place pages for them) would be:

bruk, gård, municipality, county, Norway

but this seems to be an excessive degree of qualification, and I get the sense from reading Bygdebøker that bruk names were rarely qualified with the gård name in common use (except to distinguish between bruker with the same name).

You are right about the fact that bruk was rarely paid much attention to in records, I have actually never seen it in any of the legal or church records I have encountered, and never have I seen anyone named after their holding and not their farm. In my experience first names often were inherited on the holdings, and the last names, to what extent they were used, were taken from the farms. I therefore agree that farm should be the smallest unit used in place names.--Kaffilars 23:28, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Regarding definitions of holdings: Holdings are in my area almost exclusively named after a person who lived there in the early-to-mid-19th century, i. e. it has a (usually male) first name followed by -gard (meaning farm or home) for its name. There are some exeptions, usually named for some geographical feature. This naming convention, however, varies from area to area. No one I know of has a holding name for a surname, and it would sound most odd to my ears. That's one reason why the holding is not that interesting, genealogically speaking. A fair exeption is if there are several farmers on the same farm with the same name. This would actually happen quite often (you wouldn't believe how many Ole Olssons I have encountered in my studies...), and they can be very hard to tell apart in church records. If one knows which holding they resided on, it could be useful information, but I would never expect to see such a distinction made in any official records.

No holding around here has managed the same land for more than a couple of hundred years. Land has been redistributed between holdings (socalled "utskifting"), and houses and barns have been moved around. Holdings have been split up, joined together, disappeared, etc. But the farms, they have stayed the same for as long as can be documented. This is another reason why holdings are less than useful. The physical area managed by a holding, or a bruk, changes quite frequently even today, and too much focus on this will perhaps lead to misconseptions about size of properties and exact home location of historical persons.--Kaffilars 23:47, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for responding. It appears that customs have been different in different parts of the country. The bruk (thanks for the correction on the plural) in Telemark have names such as Slemmeli, Lien, Nystøl - and according to the 1950 draft land register, people adopted these as surnames. I have also seen them as surnames in the parish registers (e.g., Vern Mørkholt in 1748, John Olsen Sagabugten in 1850).
However, in light of what you say about land being redistributed between holdings over the years, I agree that it would be best to stick to the farm (gård) level for places, and use farm name in people's names unless the bruk name is specified as part of their name in a primary record. The bruk name can also be placed in the place description field of an event, such as a birth, if deemed relevant. --DataAnalyst 02:58, 12 December 2013 (UTC)


I have also encountered places (plasser), which seem to be smaller sub-divisions of bruker (or maybe, in some cases, just small bruker). I would suggest that these be put in the description field.

Discussion Invited [12 December 2013]

Please respond if you disagree, or have an opinion on the choices for handling bruker. Or let me know if you think I am on the right track. Thanks.--DataAnalyst 02:32, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

First a small correction, sing. bruk is not pl. bruker, but retains the form bruk in plural. Bruker actually means a person managing the holding. The word comes from the verb "bruke" which means "use", so one can read the word bruk, as in smallholding or homestead, as "used, or farmed, land".

I actually live in rural Norway and I applaud even trying to set a standard for Norwagian place names. I agree with most of what is already suggested on this page.

There is however a division missing, namely what is called "bygdelag" or "bygd" (loosely translates into village, but means something quite other than, say, English villages) in Norway. This would be placed between farm and municipality, and is in my opinion essential, at least in my part of the country. Let me use my own situation as an example. If I were to pinpoint my location exactly, I would write Nilsgarden, Sætre, Ulvestadbygda, Dalsfjord, Møre og Romsdal, Norway. This is my holding, farm, village, (former) municipality, county and country.

The village is useful because it is often used in more informal settings. Nowadays, when people from nearby ask me where I live, I always say the village, not the farm, because there are several other farms by that name in all neighboring municipalities. When people from other parts of the county or country ask me where I'm from, I use the current municipality Volda.

I have actually tried to make a page about my "village", see Ulvestad, where the farms are listed in the description. Listing all farms (not to mention all holdings) will be very labor-intensive, while the villages in each municipality are fairly manageable in numbers.

Good information. However, this poses a dilemma for me and probably many others. The sources I rely on (Oluf Rygh's list of farms (Norwegian version), 1950 draft land registry and Bygdebøker that I have consulted) do not mention villages. Their hierarchies consist of county, municipality, (sometimes parish), farm.
It is interesting that you say that the term is "bygdelag" or "bygd", which is, of course, the root word of bygdebok. All 5 of the bygdebøker that I have personally consulted represent an entire municipality, although I have seen references to another that is more of a region (or maybe parish). Again, there may be regional differences involved.
At any rate, as a way of accommodating both farms that are part of villages and farms for which the village (if it exists) is unknown, I would suggest that we allow (encourage) place pages for both:
gård, municipality, county, Norway
bygd, municipality, county, Norway
and then add "also located in bygd, ..." and/or "also located in parish, ..." to the gård place page. Would that work for you?--DataAnalyst 03:47, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

In the place editing window there are several place types selectable that are in non-english languages. Wouldn't it be best to add "bygd" and "bruk" as selectable place classifications? Or am I completely off track suggesting that? I am sadly not that familiar with other comparable living patterns, but I guess swedes, icelanders and to some extent finns and danes have lived somewhat like the norwegians in yester years, albeit a little more fancy and continental?--Kaffilars 23:22, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

We can ask for new place types as needed. Gård was just recently added at my request, and I didn't want to ask for bruk until we decided whether or not to create place pages for them. Please go ahead and ask for bygd (submit on Suggestions page).--DataAnalyst 03:47, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

I am not at all knowledgeable about places in Norway. However, I am curious how this plan fits into WeRelate's general "rule" about titling places as they were about 1900. That date varies somewhat from country to county (like Indonesia where ~1949 makes more sense). The thought is that places should be titled as researchers would find them in historical documents, not necessarily as they are currently organized. --Jennifer (JBS66) 00:17, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

The standard reference for Norwegian farm names is Norske Gaardnavne, started by Oluf Rygh, which was compiled from 1897 to 1924. If we use that for the farm names and which municipality they were in, we should be as close to WeRelate norms as makes sense. On the other hand, we may as well continue to use modern county names, which WeRelate is already populated with. Some of these names are post-1900 (e.g., Telemark was renamed from Bratsberg in 1919), but both former and current municipalities are already set up using these county names, and I don't see the harm in continuing to use them.--DataAnalyst 03:47, 12 December 2013 (UTC)