Heritage Travel – a magical experience

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The baptismal angel.

The last few years, I have done several Heritage travels with clients and for my own research. It can be and is most often a magical experience. Last year I made a visit to Vestfold and Borre church with a client, her husband and a Norwegian relative. A picture of the church is here.  My guests forefathers lived close by the church around 1850, before one of them left for the US, while the others stayed in Norway. They lived at “Kirkebakken”, in English the name would be Churchill! The church is a medieval era church and the thick walls are of natural stone.

The altarpiece is from the baroque period and is beautiful. And there is a figurine of an angel, carved in wood, painted with gold, that holds the baptismal font. The figure is of a woman and in her hands she holds the baptismal font. This mechanism was installed sometime before 1800 and hangs from the ceiling. It is still in use. There are many other special details from the interior of the building; some still in the church, other at museums. The church is situated about 500 meters from the Oslofjord.

Borre church view
View from the church towards the Oslofjord.

The area is very beautiful, with lush vegetation and large trees. We went there in May month. A few hundred meters away, north of the church, one can find burial mounds; that is Viking graves from around the year 1000. It is now called Borreparken. This is the largest collection in Northern Europe of monumental grave mounds from this era. Snorre Sturlason (1179 –1241), the Icelandic historian and writer, claimed that kings are buried here.  The first excavation of a Viking ship happened in 1852, that means that my clients forefathers must have experienced this.

The Midgard Vikingsenter at Borre offers an exhibition with artefacts from the Viking era. And the playgrounds offers opportunity for adult and children to play Viking games and activities.

Nearby one also finds a Viking Hall, reconstructed as it would have looked 1000 years ago. A Viking hall was a place for celebration and religious ceremonies.

Borrehaugen
A Viking grave in Borreparken.

Visiting Borre church and the Viking area was only part of the day of Heritage travel. We also saw another church which held history for my clients family. And we visited the house they lived in about 1830. We had a buffet lunch with Norwegian delicacies in Åsgårdstrand and looked at Edvard Munch’s house. Here you can see the house and some of his painting, some of them with motives from the village.

The relative who was with us this day, brought pictures of her family members. The two cousins could see some resemblance. The relative told us that her mother had a special middle name. This was the same name that the American cousin’s forebears had. It was from the German branch of the family. By having this meeting, they could understand and recreate the family history that had been lost.

What would your Norwegian Heritage travel be like? Why not prepare for it in 2021 or have somebody introduce you to your family-history virtually?

(This client project was a cooperation between Laila Normann Christiansen and Liv Birgit Christensen. Laila did the initial research and I prepared for the Heritage travel. Laila’s genealogy blog can be found here. Her blog posts are down to earth tips and tricks.

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