Appendix B: Agriculture and Forestry

© 2020 Jeffrey Love, Inger Larsson, Ulrika Djärv, Christine Peel, and Erik Simensen, CC BY 4.0 https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0188.05

Diagram 1. A landowner’s assets in different types of land and common resources.
Diagram produced by Inger Larsson.

A landowner during the time of the Nordic provincial laws (c. 1240–1350) would have his share in the cultivated land, the non-cultivated land used for hay harvest and grazing, the woods and forests, which constituted an important economic asset, as well as in other common resources such as fishing waters, hunting and wells. His rights and commitments were regulated by the provincial laws. The details might differ with each law and likewise the terminology. The Middle Ages in the Nordic countries lasted from c. 1000 to 1500–30.

The diagram above shows roughly how all these assets were interdependent and intertwined.

The cultivated land was the most valuable asset. In all Nordic countries there was a vast expansion in the Early Middle Ages of arable land through cultivating part of the meadow-land or through slash and burn clearance of moors, woodlands and forests.

The non-cultivated land used for hay harvest and grazing was almost equally important, as the area available for hay harvesting and grazing determined the number of cattle a farmer was able to feed during the winter-stalling, and thus how much fertilizer he had access to for use on the cultivated land.

The woods and forests were important for providing grazing, timber and firewood and not least, land for future cultivation. In the south of Scandinavia they also provided food for pigs, i.e. acorns, beechnuts and hazelnuts.

Common resources were assets for the common use of all landowners or tenants such as fishing-waters, streams, pastures, woodlands or forests. The right of use to these assets was regulated and differed between laws, and misuse was punished.

Ingierþis (OSw) and utgierþis (OSw), literally ‘within enclosure’, i.e. within the village arable land, and ‘outside the enclosure’, is a contemporary dichotomy of land of crucial importance in the laws and in society.

The following is an effort to give an overview of the most frequent terms/words used in the laws and their meaning and relations to each other.


jorþ (OSw), jorth (ODan), jörð (ON) n.

1) earth, 2) ground, soil, land for a specific purpose, 3) cultivated land and 4) immovables, property

Refs: CV s.v. jörþ; Herzberg s.v. jörþ; Lund s.v. iorþ; Schlyter s.v. jorþ.

land (OSw, ODan, ON) n.

1) arable land, 2) province, kingdom, 3) ground, 4) shore, 5) property, 6) countryside as opposed to town and 7) parcel of land. As a place-name element it means large island or peninsula i.e. Öland. Langeland, Lolland.

Refs: Brink 2008b, 99, 106; CV land; Herzberg s.v. land; KLNM s.v. -land; Lund s.v. land; Ruthström 2002, 118–28; Schlyter s.v. land.

mark (OSw, ODan), mörk (ON) n.

The word form mark n. represents three homonyms: 1) mark ‘mark, sign; border mark, boundary line’; 2) mark ‘unit of weight and coinage’, 3) mark ‘forest, wood; outlying field, outland’. For homonyms 2 and 3 the ON standard form is mörk. The oldest sense of the neuter mark and the feminine variant mark (the latter originally collective plural) was ‘border/boundary mark’. Since forests often functioned as borderland the word mark (both neuter and feminine) also came to mean ‘forest, wood’, and (by extension) ‘land, field’.

Refs: Bjorvand 1994, 79−80, 158−59; 2007, 722; Brink 2008b, passim; CV s.v. mörk; Fritzner s.v.v. mörk, mǫrk; KLNM s.v.v. -mark, mark, rågång, utmark; Schlyter s.v. mark. See also Appendix C.

ingærþis, ingierþis (OSw) adv.

Refers to land ‘within enclosure’. Cultivated fields, meadows and some areas used for grazing would be fenced in. The use of this land in Sweden was characterized by annual cropping and intensive use. The main part of the food supply originated in the land ‘within enclosure’.

See also garþer, gærþi.

Refs: KLNM s.v. ager sp. 37–38; Myrdal 1999, 125–30.

utgærþis (OSw) adv., utjorth (ODan) n., útjörð (OIce) n.

Refer to land ‘outside the enclosure’. Outside the enclosure were moorland, woodland and forest land. The use of this land in Sweden was characterized by versatile use and expansion of farmland. See also ollandæ (ODan), utlænde (ODan) commented below under aker.

In ON it is used of tenant estates and is equated with ON leiguból (cf. Rafnsson 1985, 153). Útjarðir were also the parcels of land which could be inherited by women, whereas sons received the ‘primary estate’ (höfuðból) according to Jó Kge 7.

Refs: KLNM s.v. utmark; Myrdal 1999, 125–30; 2011, 77–97; Rafnsson 1985, 153. See also almænninger.

Diagram 2. Illustration of the sematic scope of words in the laws denoting inhabited areas. Diagram produced by Inger Larsson.

Cultivated land: village, farmstead and farmyard

There are a large number of different words denoting a specific area or district, a village or a single farm. Some words include the buildings, others do not. Some include all the land and rights belonging to a farm, others do not. The diagram below roughly illustrates the relations between the different words and their semantic scope although the extension of a single word may vary between laws and/or provinces.

district (not administrative)

bygd (OSw, ODan), byggð (ON) n.

a village, a single or a group of farms, belongings, district

bo (ODan, OGu, OSw), (ON) n.

village, farm and/or land surrounding the farmstead

bolstaþer (OSw), bólstaðr (ON) n.

by, byr (OSw), býr (ON), bær (ON) n.

the farm as an economic asset or unclear reference

bol (OSw, ODan, OGu), ból (ON) n.

the farmstead, sometimes including land as an economic asset

garþer (OSw), garth (ODan), garþr (OGu),
garðr (ON) n.

the farmyard or the farm as an economic asset

tompt (OSw), toft (ODan), tóft (ON) tún (ON),

bær (ON) n.

new settlement from an old village/farm

þorp (OSw), thorp (ODan) n.

bygd (OSw, ODan), byggð (ON) n.

Inhabited area or district sometimes including the inhabitants and the cultivated land.

Refs: CV s.v. bygð; Hertzberg s.v. bygð; KLNM s.v. -bygd; ONP s.v. byggð; Schlyter s.v. bygd; Zoega s.v. bygð.

bo (ODan, OGu, OSw), (ON) n.

Literally ‘dwelling’ with many separate meanings in the laws: 1) a farm or a group of farms, a village, 2) the houses themselves and the function of the dwelling as an economic unit sometimes including the people living and working there, 3) the belongings representing a substantial part of its value including livestock. In Iceland a might be a farm unity of which two, three or more combined on the land of a larger farm. When two people had a at the same bær, they were said to have a together (eiga bú saman).

In SkL and ÖgL a bo could also denote a farm with an administrative function under the control of a king, bishop or jarl, or their bryti. In the Swedish province of Västergötland, albeit not explicitly mentioned in the version of the laws translated into English, but present in a recent edition of ÄVgL (Wiktorsson 2011:II, 160–65), a bo was an administrative district of an unknown function comprising one or several hæraþ, that was probably associated with the royal estates (bona regalia) of upsala öþer.

See also Appendix A.

Refs: Árni Júlíússon 2010, 8; CV s.v. ; KLNM, s.v.v. bo, kronogods; Miller 1990, 115; Schlyter s.v. bo; Wiktorsson 2011:II, 160–65.

bol (OSw, ODan, OGu), ból (ON) n.

Literally ‘dwelling’ and by extension referring to a farm including its farmland.

In Danish laws (except in Halland and Blekinge) bol refers to a certain part of the village land and the rights and obligations that followed, but may also be used as a land assessment unit. The details concerning the origin and varying size or value of a bol are unclear, but the number of bol in a specific village seems to have been static and a farm could consist of a whole bol or part(s) of a bol.

A specifically judicial use of bol in Norwegian laws was as a farming unit of a certain size, which was originally the basis for calculating the lease and later the taxation, and usually specified as to the unit measure, i.e. marker or mánaðarmatr.

There are several, sometimes conflicting, ideas of the nature of the bol in the Swedish laws and it is unclear whether it also was a unit of a specified size or value, a farm where the owner resided or – possibly later – a new settlement.

bolskift (ODan) n. is a land division system in Denmark supposed to have preceded the solskift. It is not mentioned in the laws. See Land-division systems below.

Refs: Andersson 2014, 24; Ericsson 2012, 22, 24, 28, 270; Hoff 1997, 197; KLNM s.v.v. bol, bolskift, hammarskifte, solskifte, tegskifte; Porsmose 1988, 234–36, 270; Rahmqvist 1996, 29; Schlyter s.v. bol; Tamm and Vogt 2016, 25; Venge 2002, 8, 173, 283; Åström 1897, 193–98.

bolstaþer (OSw), bólstaðr (ON) n.

Village or farmstead in a village or the area around the dwelling on a farm. Also used of farming land delineated by boundary markers as being part of a specific village. As a place-name element it is found in Iceland, Shetland, Orkney, The Hebrides, Norway, Södermanland, Uppland, Åland and the very south of Finland.

by ok bolstaþer (OSw) is an alliterative expression for a village and the related farmland, which might be translated alternatively as ‘village and environs’.

Refs: CV s.v. bólstaðr; Gammeltoft 2001, 15; KLNM s.v. bolstadh; ONP s.v. bólstaðr; Schlyter s.v. bolstaþer; Zoega s.v. bólstaðr.

byr, by (OSw), býr, bær (ON) n.

This word has several different but associated meanings: 1) the farm and its buildings, i.e. the farmstead, 2) ‘village’ (comprising a number of farmsteads forming a community) or habitation in general and 3) ‘town’ (as opposed to the countryside). The first two meanings are the most common.

-by/bær has been a very productive place-name suffix for a long time in all the Nordic countries as well as in the Nordic areas in Britain.

Used in the expression by ok bolstaþer or the compound byabolstaþer to mean ‘village and the related farmland’.

Refs: CV s.v. bær; KLNM, s.v.v. landsby, stad; Miller 1990, 115; Schlyter s.v. byr.

garþer (OSw), garth (ODan), garþr (OGu), garðr (ON) n.

The main meanings of garþer are ‘fence, barrier’ and ‘enclosed land’, but garþer also may refer to the houses themselves and/or to the open space enclosed by those houses. In some areas in Sweden and Norway a garþer was regarded as an economic unit corresponding to the Danish bol. In the Norwegian GuL it was then referred to as bær, also including resources such as woodland, fishing waters etc. The concepts expressed by garþer also correspond to bær (see byr) and jörð (see jorþ) in Icelandic laws, but in Iceland the word garðr later came to refer to a high-status dwelling.

The layout of a garþer, referring to the different farm-buildings, varied greatly both regionally and over time. VgL and UL (e.g. YVgL Kkb 2, Tb 30; ÄVgL Tb 5; UL Kkb 2) mention some of the various types of buildings to be found on a garþer.

Garþer meaning ‘fence’ is quite common as the maintenance of fencing was an obligation connected to the holding of land of a particular kind, the period for the maintenance of the fencing, and who was legally responsible for the fencing. Neglect of this obligation carried legal penalties.

Garþer is also found in compounds referring to a small enclosed area, i.e. some kind of garden: kalgarþer (OSw, kailyard), yrtagarþer (OSw, herb garden), apæld garth (ODan, apple or fruit garden), hvannagarðr (ON, angelica garden).

Refs: Adams 1976 s.v. settlement; CV s.v. garðr; Helle 2001, 106–16; Hellquist [1948] 1964, s.v. gård; KLNM, s.v. gård; Pelijeff 1967, passim; Schlyter s.v. garþer.

tompt, toft (OSw), toft (ODan), tóft, tópt (ON) n.

Tompt (OSw) and toft (ODan) refer to the enclosed area immediately surrounding the farm buildings (curtilage, plot), the size and use of which varied considerably throughout the North.

Tompt is mentioned in all Swedish laws, it was enclosed, and the ownership of a tompt entitled to certain legal rights and obligations. It was the responsibility of the person to whom each plot was allocated to keep fencing around it in good order. In UL and VmL the word is occasionally used as a synonym for burtomt in the sense of ‘curtilage’, that is the land immediately surrounding a dwelling that was subject of special protection.

The often quoted wording Tompt ær teghs/akærs moþir; ‘the tompt is the mother of the strip fields/ cultivated fields’ (SdmL; DL; UL; VmL) has been taken as a proof that not only the arrangement of the individual strips in the gærþi (see gærþi) but also their size was determined by the situation and size of the tompt in the village when solskipt was carried through (see solskipt under Land-division systems below). VgL states that ownership of a tompt and fields and meadows of a certain size entitled one to part in the common resources (ÄVgL Jb 7; YVgL Jb 19). According to YVgL the size of a legal tompt was 20x10 alnar (YVgL Jb 18). In ÖgL and UL it was stated that the size of all ownership: field, meadow, fencing, forests and fishing was to be related to the size of the tompt (ÖgL Bb 2; UL Jb 4, Blb 2). Fencing between neighbouring plots was regulated (ÖgL Bb 13) as well as the fines for destroying the fencing around the tompt (ÖgL Bb 23). In UL it is described in detail how to divide a village legally whether it is a new or an old village, how to calculate the size of each individual tompt and how to arrange the roads, the buildings and fencing (UL Blb 1–2).

In Denmark the toft was comparatively large and contained cultivated fields. In these fields the land was held in severalty. In the toft are mentioned enclosed apæld garth (apple or fruit garden), kalgarth (kailyard), hialm garth (hay shed) as well as toftæ garth (JyL 3 60). The size of the toft determined the size of the taxes paid to the king and the physical arrangement of the order in which the different strip fields (aker) were laid out if the village land was shifted (JyL 1 55, ESjL 2 55; (see solskipt under Land-division systems below). The size of the toft is still not fully investigated, but in the late middle ages the large toft was eventually divided into smaller more garden-like areas (Hoff 1997, 84–121).

The ON tóft, might refer to the foundation and walls before a roof was put on, and later it was used to describe ruined buildings.

Refs: Aðalsteinsson 1986–89, 38; CV s.v. topt; Hoff 1997, 84–121; Holmberg 1946, passim; KLNM s.v.v. tomt, tún.

tún (ON) n.

Tún is related to words meaning ‘fence, barrier’. In Norwegian [not in the laws] it refers to the area around which the farmhouses were grouped. In Icelandic laws it refers to the cultivated land surrounding the farm, which might be enclosed by a túngarðr or túnvöllr.

See also tompt.

Refs: CV s.v. tún; Hastrup 1992, 108; Helle 2001, 106–16; Holmberg 1969, 247–61; KLNM s.v. tún.

þorp (OSw), thorp (ODan) n.

The word þorp, thorp is only found in Danish and Swedish laws. It has been very productive as a place-name suffix since the late Viking Age, with around 10,000 names ending in þorp, thorp, whereas in Norway only a handful of names of this kind is found.

In Danish laws thorp refers to a new settlement (‘outlying village’) created from the main (old) village (athelby), and the laws regulate terms between the old and the new village, boundaries, size and the use of deserted settlements.

In the Swedish laws þorp seems to refer to a single (often small) farm, possibly moved out from a village.

See also þorpakarl in the lexicon.

Refs: Berg 2013, 22–23; Hoff 1997, 122–141; KLNM s.v. torp; Porsmose 1988, 240–48; Schlyter s.v. þorp

Cultivated land: arable land

The property rights, distribution, use and individual size of arable land, land used for hay harvest, grazing and as a common resource available to a single landowner or user varied a great deal between the Nordic provinces and between individuals. Climate, soil fertility, landscape as well as social, economic and cultural differences determined the practical forms for utilizing these assets.

Diagram 3. Illustration of the sematic scope of words in the laws denoting cultivated land. Diagram produced by Inger Larsson.

aker (OSw, ODan), akr (OG, ON) n.

Aker, akr, which is found in all laws, refers to arable open land, field, often as opposed to meadow (OSw æng) and wood or forest (OSw skogher). An aker, was cultivated (permanent, tilled, manured), a lot of work had been invested in it, and it was the most valuable land for growing food plants. What crops would be cultivated of course differed between provinces and climate. In the Swedish laws stealing barley, oats, rye, beans, peas, turnips or brassicas was regarded as a crime.

Where a system of single farms existed the farmer was free to use his cultivated land at his own will, but when the population grew and farms became grouped in village-like structures the cultivated land became an economic asset that needed to be divided between the different farms. At the time when the laws were written down in Denmark and southern Sweden, the cultivated land belonging to a certain village would be divided into one-, two- or three- permanent fields depending on the rotation system practiced, and terms for land measurement and evaluation appear in the laws.

In the Danish laws an aker was also a strip field in the vang (see below) whereas the following words, which all appear in the laws, akærland (ODan), akerskifte (ODan), ollandæ (ODan), utlænde (ODan) refer to cultivated land and/or meadows, sometimes, as opposed to land within the enclosure of the toft. According to Hoff they all, except akærland are remnants from cultivating systems possibly preceding the rotation systems described above (Hoff 1997, 142–49).

Refs: Hertzberg 1895, s.v. akr; GDO s.v. aker; Hoff 1997, 142–49; KLNM, s.v.v. ager, envangs-brug, gödsling, odlingssystem, svedjebruk, teig, tovangsbrug, trevangsbrug; Myrdal 1999, 19–109; 2011, 49–52, 77–81; Schlyter s.v. aker.

akerland (ODan), akrland (OIce) n.

In Danish laws it refers to strip fields. In Icelandic laws to arable land or cropland in general.

Refs: CV s.v. akrland; Hoff 1997, 142–49.

akerskifte (ODan) n.

Common strip field.

Ref: Hoff 1997, 142–49.

gærþi (OSw), vang (ODan), teiglag (ONorw) n.

The large individual cultivated field in a field rotation system was called gærþi (OSw), vang (ODan) or teiglag (ONorw, not in the laws). Each farm had at least one strip field (tegher (OSw), teigr (ON), aker (ODan)) in each field (gærþi (OSw), vang (ODan)). The distribution and size of these strip fields was regulated in most laws, and a number of shift systems were practiced to divide and distribute the land (see below). The size and situation in the village of the tompt, toft, i.e. the land on which the farm-buildings were situated, were important as they determined the size and situation in the gærþi (OSw) and the vang (ODan) of the strip fields. The use of the strip fields was regulated in the laws as to fencing, what crops to grow, harvesting and grazing. The original meaning of gærþi (OSw), gærthe (ODan, OGu) was ‘fence’ or ‘fenced in land’.

In the Norwegian system we find teiglag (ONorw) corresponding to (OSw) gærþi, with a number of strip fields, teigr (ON) forming a teiglag (not in the laws).

Refs: Hellquist [1948] 1964, s.v. gärda; Hoff 1997, 142–49; KLNM, s.v.v. gärde, hegn, odlingssystem, envangsbrug, teig, teigkast, teiglag, tovangsbrug, trevangsbrug, vang; Myrdal 1999, 19–109, 2011, 77–95; SAOB, s.v. gärde; Schlyter s.v. gærþi; Widgren 1997, passim.

gerði (ON) n.

Refers to fenced in land that was used for grazing after harvesting in Norwegian laws.

Ref: Herzberg s.v. gerði.

tegher (OSw), teigr (ON), aker (ODan)

A strip field (parcel) in a gærþi (OSw), vang (ODan) or teiglag (ONorw, not in the laws) or, sometimes, an enclosed piece of land for grazing or hay harvest as in Iceland. Tegher also had a more general meaning ‘particular piece of land’, i.e. ængtegher meadow-, skoghtegher forest-, rörtegher a piece of land along a shore where reed was growing, markteigr (ONorw) forest lot.

The corresponding Danish term was aker.

Refs: Hoff 1997, 142–49; KLNM, s.v. teig; Schlyter s.v. tegher

deld (OSw, ODan) n.

In the Danish laws and the Svea laws (except HL) it refers to a part of the village land, sometimes a strip field in a gærþi (OSw) or vang (ODan).

Refs: Hoff 1997, 204; Schlyter s.v. deld.

akerdeld (OSw) n.

A strip field in a gærþi (OSw) or in arable land generally.

Ref: Schlyter s.v. aker deld.

See also delda ra in Appendix C.

valder (OSw), völlr (ON) n.

Field, ground.

Refs: CV s.v. völlr; Schlyter s.v. valder.

vreter (OSw) n.

A clearing, possibly fenced in.

Refs: KLNM s.v. vret; Schlyter s.v. vreter

værn (OSw) n.

A word for an enclosed field used in DL, SdmL, UL and VmL.

Ref: Schlyter s.v. værn.

fiælder (Osw), urfiælder (OSw), lutfal (OSw), humper (OSw), ornume (ODan) n.

All these words seem to refer to approximately the same type of land regarding situation and obligations.

In SdmL fiælder (Osw) and SdmL, UL and VmL, urfiælder (OSw) refer to a piece of land separated and (often) marked off from the village land, and often located in another village than the owner’s own. This land was treated as private property and thus exempt from communal rights and obligations and from division of land between the landowners in a village. In DL this kind of land is called lutfal, in ÖgL humper. Corresponding word in Danish laws is ornume.

Refs: Hoff 1997, 150–53; KLNM s.v.v. hump, ornum, urfjäll; Lund 1967, s.v. ornum; Schlyter s.v.v. fiælder, urfiælder, lutfal, humper; Tamm and Vogt, eds 2016, 307.

Land-division systems

There are three known different land-division systems practised before and at the time when the laws were written down. Not all of them are mentioned in the laws, but known from other sources. In addition there are a few words for land division that are not land-division systems.

solskipt/e (OSw), solskift (ODan) n.

Literally ‘sun division’. The ‘sun’ element refers to the position of each aker/tegher in the vang/gærde and of the toft/tompt in the village in a fixed order after the daily course of the sun through the sky, i.e. ‘clockwise’. This division system ensured that all farms got their fair share of the common fields, meadows, grazing, fishing rights etc. in the village in accordance with the size and clockwise position of the curtilage around their dwellings (tompt), and that the strip fields were positioned accordingly.

Solskipt is supposed to have replaced older land division systems and is mentioned in SmL, ÖgL, DL, SdmL, UL and VmL. It is also mentioned in JyL and ESjL, but there it is assumed to have had more in common with the older land-division and assessment system called bolskift (not mentioned in the laws), although the size of the toft determined the size and often the position of the cultivated fields belonging to a certain farm.

It is unknown in Norway and Iceland.

bolskift (ODan) n.

A land division system in Denmark supposed to have preceded the solskift. It is not mentioned in the translated laws. See also bol (above).

hammarskipt (OSw) n.

An older land division system than solskipt. It is mentioned in SdmL, UL and VmL only. The exact meaning is still obscure. According to an older explanation, the term might refer to uncultivated and stony land available for reclamation and cultivation on the village common land. Another explanation suggests that it was an individually based cultivation and reclamation of land in common meadows and pastures.

hagaskipti (ONorw) n.

Parcelling out pastureland.

teghskipt (OSw) n.

The distribution of strip fields in the village land.

engjaskifti (OIce) n.

Division of meadowlands.

Refs: Brink 1991, 2, http://www.norna.org/?q=nonelex s.v. –hammare; CV s.v. engjaskipti; Göransson 1961, 80–83; Göransson 1976, 22–37; Hafström 1951, 104–56; Hoff 1997, 197–209; Hertzberg s.v. engjaskipti; KLNM, s.v.v. bolskift, hammarskifte, solskifte, tegskifte; Porsmose 1988, 270; Riddersporre 2001, 64–65; Sporrong 1992, 355; Schlyter s.v.v. hamar, solskipt.

See also the different land assessment units attunger, bol and markland in the lexicon.

repa (OSw), repe (ODan) v.

To divide communal village land between landowners using a rope as measurement.

See also álburðr, byamal, jorthemal, mal, mælistang, ornume, rep, repdrøgh, skipt, stangfall, stika, taumburðr, urfiælder, vaþstang

Refs: KLNM s.v. rebning; Tamm and Vogt, eds, 2016, 307, 312.

Non-cultivated land: meadow, pasture


æng (OSw, ODan), eng(i) (ON) n.

Æng, eng refer to enclosed open land which was not cultivated but, most often, cleared from trees and stone, and where hay was harvested. After the harvest the meadow as well as any cultivated fields lying fallow were used for grazing, and thus became fertilized to some extent. In Norway a farm might lack aker but never eng.

Both cultivated fields and meadows would be enclosed with stone walls or wooden fences as the many rules about enclosures in the laws bear witness about. These rules may also reveal information about the different farming systems that were used in different areas. Damage to a meadow had to be compensated. See GuL chs 82, 83, 90.

skoghæng (SdmL) woodland meadow.

Refs: CV s.v. eng; KLNM, s.v.v. eng, ängsskötsel; Schlyter s.v. æng.

boland (OG), búland (OIce) n.

Inhabited land, agricultural land on a farm including grazing area.

Refs: CV s.v. búland; ONP s.v. búland; Schlyter s.v. bo land; Zoega s.v. búland.

taða (OIce) n.

A fertilized meadow, or hay from one.

See also töðuvöllr (below).

Refs: CV s.v. taða; ONP s.v. taða; Zoega s.v. taða.

traðargarðr (ONorw) n.

Fence between pasture and cultivated land.

Ref: Fritzner s.v. traðargarðr.

töðuvöllr (OIce) n.

A manured infield.

See also taða.

Ref: CV s.v. töðuvöllr.


Grazing and land for grazing was important all over the North, and non-cultivated land and forest land were important assets. The number of cattle a single farmer could keep depended on the amount of food available during the winter stalling. There are a number of words for land used for grazing reflecting its importance. Grazing took place in the toft, in the cultivated fields after harvest, in the fallow, in the meadow after the hay harvest and in the forests or in the Norwegian, Faroese and Icelandic grass plains and mountains. Some of the more frequent words are listed here.

bait (OGu), beit (ON) n.


Refs: CV s.v. beit; KLNM s.v. beite; Schlyter s.v. bet.

haghi (OSw), haghe (ODan), hagi (OGu), hagi (ON) n.

Enclosed area, in particular a fenced in pasture. Often in compounds for example hagabeit pastureland grazing (OIce), húshagi, home pasture (OIce); hema haghi, home pasture (OSw); hagamark pasture boundary (OFar); hagfastr grazing constantly (OFar); haglendi pasture (OFar); fjellhagi mountain pasture (OIce).

Refs: CV s.v. hagi; KLNM s.v. beite, Schlyter s.v. haghi.

fælöt (OSw) n.


See also löt below.

Ref: Schlyter s.v. fæ löt.

fæmark (OSw) n.

Common pasture land of a village.

Ref: Schlyter s.v. fæ mark.

fæarganger (OSw), fægang (ODan), fjárgangr (OIce) n.

The grazing of cattle or a passage or path used by the cattle (ODan, OIce).

Refs: CV s.v. fé; Lund s.v. fægang; Schlyter s.v. fæar ganger.

hiorþlöt (OSw) n.

Pasture land.

See also löt.

Ref: Schlyter s.v. hiorþlöt.

hiorþvalder (OSw) n.


Ref: Schlyter s.v. hiorþvalder

löt (OSw), laut (OGu) n.

Pasture, green grass-ground, level field and a direct synonym of ON vall/völlr (pl. vellir).

Ref: Brink 2004, 210.

nautatröð (ON) n.


Refs: CV s.v. tröð; ONP s.v. tröð.

sumarhagi (OIce) n.

Summer pasture.

Ref: CV s.v. sumarhagi.

troth (ODan), tröð (ON) n.

1) ‘enclosure’, 2) (pl. traðir) ‘a trodden path, passage’ and 3) ‘a plot of land allotted for cultivation, a fallow field’.

Refs: CV s.v. tröð; Lund 1967 s.v. troth; ONP s.v. tröð; Schlyter s.v. troþ.

úthági (OIce) n.

Outer pasture.

Ref: CV s.v. úthagi.

valder (OSw), völlr (ON) n.

Pasture, field, a particular place. In compounds i.e. hviorþvalder (OSw, pasture), svina valder (OSw grazing for pigs) vighvalder (OSw a place of crime).

Refs: Brink 2004; CV s.v. völlr; ONP s.v. völlr; Schlyter s.v. valder.

Common resources and public property

Common resources were resources ‘outside the enclosure’, i.e. pastures (see above), fishing waters, woodland, forests or wells. Originally, these were for the common use of all men, but eventually these rights were often restricted to various extents in the different provinces.

skogher (OSw), skogh (ODan), skógr (ON) n.

Translated as woods, woodland or forest depending on where they were. In Denmark and the very south of Sweden it would mainly be leaf trees such as birch, oak and hazel, while further north birch and conifers and in Iceland birch or willows or a single conifer. The woods and forest were important assets yielding food for the animals, firewood, timber for building houses and joinery, iron and tar, hunting and fishing, birch-bark and bark for bast, and they were protected against misuse. Especially SdmL, UL, VgL VmL and ÖgL are very detailed on the rights and use of these assets for example the use of the acorn forests for pigs or the oak as the most valuable species. Most important was also that the forest and woodlands offered next to unlimited land for expansion of cultivated land through slash and burn methods. According to the laws, the forest would also provide shelter for criminals and robbers, for vagrants and outlaws.

In compounds: almænningsskogh (ODan) common wood, byarskogher (OSw) village woodland, gisningaskogher (OSw) acorn woodland, hæghnaskogher (OSw) enclosed wood(land), kirkjeskogh (ODan) church’s wood, varskogher (OSw) private woodland.

Woodland and forests were land ‘outside the enclosure’, i.e. common resources, almænninger, and the use of most assets was regulated in the laws. See almænninger below.

Refs: CV s.v. skógr; Fritzner s.v. skógr; Eliasson and Hamilton 1999 47–54; Hoff 1997, 262–87; Kardell 2003, 54–105; KLNM s.v. skog; ONP s.v. skógr.

almænninger (OSw), almænning (ODan), almenningr (ON) n.

Literally ‘all men’. The village land included the cultivated land and the land used for hay harvest and (partly) grazing, i.e. ‘land within enclosure’. The land ‘outside the enclosure’, the almænninger was regarded as a common resource and the rights to reclaim land for cultivating on the almænninger, thus intruding on the common resource, is regulated in all Swedish laws. It is only in ÖgL (Jb 1) that the king and his rights are mentioned. ÖgL regulates the procedure to be undertaken if the king wishes to sell an almænninger. Contemporary material shows that the king most probably had rights to a third of the common land in Västergötland, Östergötland and Småland (Rosén 1949, 36 f.).

It is important to distinguish between ownership and the right of usufruct. According to the Danish laws the king owned the almænning but the farmers had the right to use assets from the woods, with or without royal permission. The village common, byalmænninger, was owned jointly by the villagers both according to Danish and Swedish law.

There are many compounds with almænninger indicating its importance: almænningsiorþ OSw (‘-property’), almænningsskogh OSw (‘-forest’), almænningsvatn OSw (‘-water’), hæræþs almænninger OSw (‘common land of the härad’), landsalmænninger OSw (‘common land of the province’).

There were also a number of man-made assets regarded as public property: almænningsbro OSw (‘-bridge’), almænningsbrun OSw (‘-well’), almenningsfar OIce (‘public ferry’), almænningstorgh OSw (‘-square’, ‘-market’), almænningsvægher OSw (‘-road’).

Refs: Helle 2001, 111–14; Hertzberg 1895, s.v. almenningr; Hoff 1997, 255–62; Holmbäck 1920; KLNM, s.v.v. alminding, beite, bergsregale, envangsbrug, hvalfangst, häradsallmänning, jordejendom, landnåm II, regale; Rosén 1949, 36 f.; Porsmose 1988, 298–301; Schlyter s.v. almænninger.

skoghaskipti (OSw), skógarskifti (OIce) n.

Woodland and forests might be divided between the farmers for different purposes. In UL and VmL skogha skipan is a division of acorn forests with respect to the number of pigs each farmer is allowed.

In Grg 199 and Jó VII.20 it deals specifically with jointly owned land in which one party believes the other is using more resources and the process of woodland division is described in some detail.

See also skogher.

Refs: CV s.v. skógarskipti; Fritzner s.v. skógarskipti; Schlyter s.v.v. skogha skipan, skogha skipti.

afréttr (OIce) n.

Communal pasture owned by two or more men, sometimes by a whole commune. Lýður Björnsson (1972–79, I:44–45) briefly discusses afréttir (along with fjallskil). The discussion is framed as problems involving grazing for farmers, and he summarizes material from Grg.

Refs: Björnsson 1972–79. CV s.v. afréttr.

viþer (OGu, OSw), viðr (ON) n.

Firewood, timber, wood or forest.

Refs: CV s.v. viðr Schlyter s.v. viþer.