Stange Vestbygd

Stange Vestbygd has an interesting history and, in cultural history terms, is one of the most important areas in Hedmark for antiquity, cultural heritage and diversity. The area has a number of burial mounds and other ancient monuments. The country’s most historic distillery, seed cleaning plant and remains of a brickworks are all here.

The area is home to large-scale agriculture, lying as it does in one of the country’s richest agricultural areas with a very diverse production. This is one of eastern Norway’s lake and Silurian districts. Cambro-Silurian rocks have given rise to the deep, fertile and calciferous moraines.

Here are to be found manor houses with monumental architecture and stylish avenues side by side with artisans’ cabins and cotter’s farms. There is plenty of scope for outdoor activities, with well established walking paths (the Ottestad Path), as well as Lake Mjøsa and all the activities it offers. The geographical area is entirely within the municipality of Stange and in walking and cycling distance of Hamar.

Through registering its valuable cultural landscape, Stange Vestbygd has been selected as one of the most valuable cultural landscapes in Hedmark, in a national context.

The area has probably been inhabited since the stone age (1800BC). A number of archaeological finds have been made from the early iron age (500-550AD, with finds such as old fortifications, bog skeletons and cooking hollows), as well as considerable finds from the late iron age (550-1050AD). In addition to the cultural history value they represent, the burial mounds in the area are a considerable landscape and attraction resource. As well as the burial mounds, there are large heaps of stones that are probably the remains of long houses, newer burial sites with monuments, stone enclosures etc. The names of the farms are an important clue to understanding the history of settlement in the area. The picture shows finds from the pre-Roman iron age at Hammerstad.

Many of the large farms and manors in the area have buildings that are protected under the Cultural Heritage Act, such as Ringnes, Elton and Hverven. The houses and yards are easily seen in the open landscape. The buildings on these farms and manors can often be divided into two: a more open outer yard area with working farm buildings and a more enclosed inner yard with farm house and barn etc. surrounded by dense vegetation. Many farms have old, tree-lined avenues. The avenues down to Lake Mjøsa date from a time when travel by water was more common and access to the farm also had to look respectable and inviting from the lake.

Stange Vestbygd is highly suitable for teaching about natural and cultural history and school classes use buildings, paths and nature as an arena for education. Ottestad and Stange Schools both actively use the old cotter’s farm sites in teaching and activities.

Distilleries, distilling and aquavit are an important part of Hedmark’s heritage. Atlungstad Distillery (1855) is one of the most intact old distilleries in Norway and currently functions as a reserve distillery for the Arcus company. It is one of two distilleries considered as heritage objects of national interest by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage. Stange has long wished to focus on this cultural element and chose Atlungstad Distillery as the municipality’s cultural heritage site in the Cultural Heritage Year (2009).

Accessibility to the area is part of the focus, and there are plans to make the area more accessible both from land and from Lake Mjøsa. Tourism and boating interests have become involved in restoring the lake’s stopping points and jetties.