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27 March 2008
4/2008
Miniature Sheet

Norse mythology

Norway
The Dovre mountains have a place in Norway's cultural history as a symbol of unity and identity. The area is an integral part of the myths about the origins of the Norwegian people and of its kings and earls and it features in the initiation of heroes and in medieval pilgrimages to Nidaros. "United and true until Dovre falls", declared the members of Norway's constituent assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814.

Dovre is also known to people all over the world as the home of the Mountain King in Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt with incidental music by Edvard Grieg. And now Dovre is the subject of Norway's stamps for the third and last joint Nordic issue on Norse mythology, for which the theme is mythical places.

In Norway's misty past, myths arose about the country and the origins of the Nordic peoples. In the far north there lived a giant king who had two sons, Nor and Gor, and a daughter, Goe. One day Goe disappeared and the two brothers went searching for her. By ship and on skis they discovered the country and divided it between them. Nor took the mainland and called it Norge and his brother took the islands. In the meantime Goe had settled down with Rolf of Berg, son of a giant in Dovre. Norwegians are said to be descended from these mythical people.

In the Middle Ages other groups of people, such as the Orcadians and the Faroese, linked their creation myths to Dovre and the Icelandic chieftains wrote their saga into the ancient Norwegian myth. Dovre was also the place where the hero met the woman of the mountains. One of these heroes was Harald Fairhair. He was raised and taught by a giant in Dovre and was sometimes called Harald Dovrefoster. Later, when he was adding region after region to his united kingdom, he met Snefrid at the Tofte farm at the foot of the Dovre mountains. Harald was very much taken with her and she became his wife. She gave him four sons and from there Norway's royal line continues through Harald Hardrada (1015-66), Snefrid's great grandson.

In recent times Dovre has been upgraded as a protected and recreational area. As such it is a unique area, but an area that is also steeped in myths, legends, literature and music. A kind of holy mountain?

Harald Fairhair and Snofrid, Dovrefjell  

Harald Fairhair and Snofrid, Dovrefjell

Technical Information

NK: NK 1679-80
Subjects: Harald Fairhair and Snofrid, Dovrefjell
Design: Sverre Morken
Value: A-Priority, domestic (NOK 7.00)
copyright notice: The source of the text and the images is Norway Post.
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