Norwegian houses – Olden

Wherever we travel I’m always keen to see the sorts of houses that the locals live in and I have to say that I love the wooden houses in Norway, I think they’re almost all mainly made from wood. The one in the photo below has a turf roof, if they painted the wood green I think it would be difficult to find amongst those trees.

a Turf House

Until very recently I’ve rather looked down on wooden houses as opposed to those made from stone, probably because of that children’s story The Three Little Pigs – wooden houses never seemed that safe to me for various reasons and not just the possibility of fire. I love the one in the photo below, which I believe (if my memory is behaving itself) is in Olden in Norway, as are the others.

white wooden  house
The same house, different angle, I wouldn’t be at all happy about that big tree being so close to it though. A lot of the houses in Norway have narrow permanent ladders on their roof leading to the chimney. An aid for Santa maybe!
white house
When I thought about it I realised that the wood is a far better insulator than stone is, especially as in Norway they seem to have more than just an outer skin of wood, certainly at least two layers. They’ll actually be far easier to heat than stone or brick houses as when they get the cold air on them they become ice boxes and are impossible to heat up with modern central heating. Coal fires are needed to heat up the walls through the flues, but coal is too expensive and polluting now.

If you look to the right in the photo below you can just make out a flagpole and flag. This is quite rare in Norway, even rarer in Scotland mind you. In Norway they have very strict rules on who and when you can fly the flag. Only high up officials working for the government can fly it, unless it’s their national day and then anyone can fly the flag. I think that’s sensible, there’s something rather unbalanced about enthusiastic flag fliers – and constant national anthems too for that matter.
yellow house

The more modern houses are just as nice I think and this one below has a particularly colourful and well kept garden.
Houses  in Olden

Back to old houses and the smaller buildings seem to have been built on stone pillars, I think they were probably grain stores or barns and that would have been a way of keeping vermin out.

Turf roof Houses

It occurred to me that when the Scandinavians immigrated to the USA as many of them did in the 1800s – they took their way of building homes with them. So what I thought of as being an American house style was really originally Scandinavian it would seem. The yellow wooden house below really stands out but I couldn’t believe how close that massive beech tree is, it must make it very dark inside – upstairs anyway. I’d be terrified of it falling on the house in a high wind, although the captain said that Norway doesn’t get much in the way of high winds, which seems strange to me.

Yellow house
I like all these homes and would be quite happy to move into any of them. Interestingly they only use electricity for heating in Norway. They do have natural gas but they export it all. Although things in Norway are expensive in general necessities such as power and housing costs are reasonable and that’s really the way it should be I think. Of course they have lots of hydro-electric power, they’re way ahead of us with renewables, but in Scotland we’re catching up.


11 thoughts on “Norwegian houses – Olden

  1. Love the turf roofs! Yes, the style of the houses would fit right in here in Minnesota where we were settled by so many Swedes and Norwegians we have annual festivals and folks of the different ancestries poke gentle fun at each other.

    • Stefanie,
      I think it’s lovely that they’ve managed to hold on to their Scandinavian identity. I’ve just recently been reading a knitting book, published in the US about Scandinavian knitting and it had quite a few old photos of people who had moved to your part of the world. They would have been used to your cold but not the heat, I think they must have felt homesick though.

  2. It’s really interesting to see the style of the homes in Norway and to realize how far and wide the influence of architectural styles has spread. And I never knew that other countries have rules against flying the national flag. Very interesting. I don’t want to turn this into a policital comment, but maybe it makes a country’s flag have more signficance when you don’t see it in so many places and applications. Just a thought…..


    • Paula,
      I completely agree with you about flags, we only see them on a big royal occasion really. Government buildings might have one up there but we don’t have any of that swearing allegiance to a flag thing, it seems bizarre. The first thing we noticed in France was lots of flags so J thinks it must be a result of revolution!

      • The flying of flags may not necessarily be the result of revolution. And ordinary French people didn’t fly the flag much but municipal buildings did. True, the US and France did both have revolutions and may be somehow trying to compensate for that.
        In Northern Ireland not only were flags flown (a different one depending on which “side” the flag flier belonged to) they even painted the kerbstones in the colours of the flag(s)!
        To me it’s a sign of insecurity.
        Both sides in N Ireland feel illegitimate, one because their ancestors in effect took over the country, the other because they live in a country they don’t want to belong to.
        However, a flag flier is in effect saying, “I’m a better citizen than you” or “I’m a bigger patriot than you” (of whatever country or state that flag represents) – and that sentiment is nonsense. (Ditto for putting your hand over your heart when the national anthem is being played; such a display is the opposite of patriotism. It’s ostentation; show, not substance.)
        I’m a proud Scot but don’t feel the need to fly a flag to prove it. It’s nobody else’s business.
        But I do wonder. Why is the flying the flag of the Confederate States of America not considered an act of treason in the US? It is after all the flag of an entity which fought in rebellion against it. By definition no one who does that can be a US patriot.

  3. Interesting topic, for sure. I haven’t previously given much thought to a country’s relationship with its flag. The controversy over the Confederate flag seems to grow rather than diminish, and as I am sure you know, is very divisive. I grew up and still live in the Southern part of the US, and it’s a highly charged emotional issue that some people just can’t seem to get past.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Paula,
      I’ve never been able to understand why the Confederate flag is allowed to be flown. Anywhere else the ‘losers’ flag is buried and dead. For instance the Swastika is banned in Germany and recently SSGB a TV programme was filmed in London and they computer generated the Nazi flags because actually flying them for any reason would have upset too many people.

      • I don’t understand it either, Katrina. I’m sure that someone more knowledgeable about the issue might be able to make sense of it. I guess the American Civil War must be viewed differently than the Nazi power in Germany. I certainly don’t have the answer, just more questions than ever!

        • Paula,
          It’s a mystery! But I imagine that the sight of the Confederate flag must be hurtful and even frightening to many in the US – just as Nazi flags would be in Europe. Sadly some people seem to thrive on hating others, especially at the moment!

  4. Hi Katrina, It is me with the Beveridge Park postcards. 🙂 The “ladders” on the roofs of Norwegian houses are so the “chimney sweep” can make his inspections to ensure the chimney is OK and not a fire risk. With most of our houses being made of wood they are liable to burn often. With regards to the flagging, I see that 3 of your photos show houses with flag poles. Anybody can fly the flag. Private people may own a pole and raise the flag as they wish so long as they follow the rules of Flag Etiquette. Many people raise the flag when they are at their summer or winter cottage. All the best from Michael in Tonsberg.

    • Michael,
      I keep meaning to put more Beveridge Park postcards online. I’ll get around to it soon.
      That’s interesting, although I remember years ago my mother being furious because our chimney caught fire and she had just paid to have it swept!
      Yes quite a few of the houses have flagpoles, according to the lecturer on the cruise pennants can be flown anytime but the actual Norwegian flag is only for high days and holidays, but maybe he was wrong about that. I can’t see me ever flying a Saltire even if I had a flagpole. I had no idea you lived in Norway – lucky you!

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