Norway has a long history of keeping a detailed property register. In recent years, the manual records have been centralised and digitised. A current and interactive map based on these records is also of great use for historians and genealogists. Sadly, it is in Norwegian only but below we have tried to provide some guidance for non-Norwegian speakers.
The Norwegian Mapping Authority – Kartverket
Today, The Norwegian Mapping Authority is the public register handling the records of all properties in Norway. An interactive map can be found at seeiendom.no. The map is not a historical map as such but it is nevertheless an excellent source of information and clarification for both historians and genealogists.
The interactive map in combination with Google maps
Seeing your ancestors’ farm highlighted on a map often gives you a better overview of the land that they used to live on and its surroundings. Many farm properties will still also own the land upon which they had their summer pastures. This piece of land will often be found quite some distance away from the main farm.
Recommended read: The old Norwegian farm – the tradition of summer pasture
In addition to using the interactive map from Kartverket, we recommend that you also take a look at Google maps (see web address below). By using the Google maps street view functionality you will be able to see the landscape in all areas of the country – and sometimes the buildings of a given property – assuming that what you are looking for is not too far away from a main road.
Example: See the main photo above showing a farm highlighted in yellow on the interactive map. Then look at photo #2, which shows some of the buildings on the same farm seen from the road in Google maps. When using the Google maps street view functionality, you can literally ‘walk’ along the roads – and turn 360º around from wherever you are ‘standing’. It is a great way of ‘getting to know’ the landscape that your ancestors lived in – and in fact a great way of getting to know any part of the world.
Three web addresses that you might want to check out
Three web addresses that you might want to check out are:
- The Norwegian Mapping Authority homepage: kartverket.no/en
- The interactive map: seeiendom.no
- Google maps: google.com/maps
On Kartverket’s homepage, you will find a lot of valuable information – including other types of maps. In the Norwegian version of the website, you will also find an interesting section showing historical maps (kartverket.no/kart/historiske-kart).
How Norway and the Norwegian property reference codes are structured
Currently, Norway consists of 18 counties (fylker) – and each fylke consists of a number of municipalities (kommuner). Each kommune has its own 4 digit reference number (kommunenummer) – and this number is the first main element in a property’s registration reference code.
You will find a list of all the Norwegian municipality codes by going to this web address: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_municipalities_of_Norway
Within each municipality you then see the following property level split:
- Cadastral unit number = Gårdsnummer (gnr)
- Property unit number = Bruksnummer (bnr)
- Leasehold number = Festenummer (fnr)
- Condominium unit number = Seksjonsnummer (snr)
Items 1 and 2 are the ones that you will come across most often – particularly in rural areas.
When the current number system was introduced in the early 1800s, each farm within each kommune was given its own main number (gårdsnummer) – starting with 1. In addition, it was assigned a sub-number (bruksnummer) also starting with 1. Gårdsnummer 1, bruksnummer 1.
If the property was later divided, then both parts would keep the same gårdsnummer 1 – but would get separate bruksnummer. The original property would be for example gnr 1 bnr 1 – and the property sectioned out would be gnr 1 bnr 2. In this way, one would always be able to keep track of the ‘parent property’. The interesting thing from a historical perspective, is that by looking at the gårdsnummer in a district you can see what part of the land that originally belonged to one single farm.
In front of the gårds- and bruksnummer you get the 4 digit municipality code – so the total reference code for a property would be for example 0135-11/1. This is the code format that you would use for the interactive map at seeiendom.no
Instructions on how you can use the interactive property map
Step 1: Go to seeiendom.no
Step 2: On the screen, you will see the search field top left. The text box bottom-right can be closed down
Step 3: Test the search field by entering the code 0135-11/1 and then click ‘Søk’ (search). You will now see the property highlighted in yellow with an initial info-box. You can zoom in and out by using the +/- top left or by using the mouse wheel.
Step 4: You can move around on the map by clicking the large arrows top left – or by holding the mouse button and dragging the map left, right, up, down.
Step 5: As an alternative to searching by a code – you can type in the name of the property – or an address. Try for example Sarpebakken which is a neighbouring farm to the one shown in the main photo. There may be many properties with the same name in Norway – and you will often get a list of options listing the available properties, showing the municipality number and name – and the county name.
Please note: many properties are listed with variations of local dialect, and it can sometimes be a bit difficult finding the property this way. Example: a farm in Meldal, Sør-Trøndelag, is in many records called Lundahagen – but in the property map it is listed as Lundahåggån, which is the name in the local dialect.
Step 6: If you do not know the number of the property – nor the property name – or the name search does not yield any results – then your best option is to find the region that you expect the property to be in – and then start zooming in and moving about. When clicking a particular spot on the map – for example where you see a collection of buildings – a small information box will appear. Within this box click on the words ‘Marker eiendom’ (mark property). The property will now be highlighted in yellow.
Step 7: A new box now shows up on the screen where you click ‘Vis mer informasjon om eiendommen’ (show more information about the property). The next and larger box that appears on the screen shows a bit more in-depth information: like size in square metres, what buildings there are on the property, if there are any registered cultural heritage elements on the land, list of the different sections of land etc.
In the old bygdebøker (local history books) – and in the censuses – you will often find gårdsnummer and bruksnummer listed. A lot of these books are available scanned at the National Library of Norway website (nb.no). Sadly, most of them are available to people with Norwegian IP addresses only. If you are not located in Norway, try getting help from the various genealogy groups on Facebook. There are some very helpful and knowledgeable people in these groups.
Finding even more information about the property
It is also possible to find even more details about the property – like for example the name of the current owner – and if applicable, when the property was sectioned out from the main property. However, this requires a login using a Norwegian public login ID and can only be accessed by Norwegians. If you are not a Norwegian national, again try looking to the Facebook genealogy groups for help.
Main sources: kartverket.no, seeiendom.no
Main photo: Screen grab from seeiendom.no