The mountain cabin Rollstadbu - at Dovre, Oppland, Norway. Taken in 1920. | Anders Beer Wilse - Norsk Folkemuseum - - DeOldify - CC0.

The mountain cabin Rollstadbu - at Dovre, Oppland, Norway. Taken in 1920. | Anders Beer Wilse - Norsk Folkemuseum - - DeOldify - CC0.

Hytte | The ancestral call from the Norwegian mountain cabin

The traditional Norwegians are drawn to their cabins, whether it is in the mountains, in a forest, or by the sea. Some might argue that they are a people obsessed.
By LA Dahlmann | The Evergreen Post

The Norwegians have a rural soul

Today, over 80% of all Norwegians live in cities or urban areas. But as late as in 1946, almost 50% of the population still lived in rural communities.

For millennia, the Norwegians were hunters, fishers, gatherers, and farmers – settled on farms or in cottages scattered across their long-stretched country.

There is nothing more fascinating than to observe how a Norwegian dinner party’s atmosphere immediately shifts – when someone mentions their log cabin in the mountains.

The Norwegian word for cabin – hytte – works like a call from the ancestral clan, a signal for everyone to sit up straight and listen attentively – and immediately feel the longing.

Once a simple abode with a purpose

Historically, the Norwegian mountain, forest, or seaside cabins were simple and crude, with some beds, a fireplace, and possibly a table and some chairs.

Somewhere nearby was often a small outhouse – for the occasional freezing cold and not so odourless visit.

Prior to the age of leisure and self-realisation, the cabins had a purpose; they were a shelter for the night when:

  • you crossed the mountains,
  • you went fishing,
  • you were making hay in a mountain or forest hayfield,
  • you were gathering moss for the animals or peat for the fire,
  • you went berry-picking in the late summer,
  • you went mushrooming in the autumn,
  • you were rounding up sheep or hunting in the autumn,
  • you were cutting trees in the winter,
  • and so much more.

Water and a crackling fire

The water you needed for your cabin stay came from a nearby creek or well, or you melted snow in a pot on the fire.

Your dinner was possibly a freshly caught trout from a river close by – with some melted butter and potatoes that you had brought with you in your rucksack.

No cup of coffee tastes as good as the one that you make after a long and demanding day in the mountains. And no bed is better to lie in than a makeshift cabin bunk, with the sound of a crackling fire lulling you to sleep.

Beware the word simple

Today, the Norwegian cabins are often a home away from home, with all the mod cons you can imagine.

However, if people ever invite you to stay at a Norwegian cabin – to be on the safe side – always be sure to ask whether the cabin is of the traditional or modern variety. If people say: it’s simple – then prepare for very simple.

Don’t forget your skis in the winter – and warm, wind, and waterproof clothes and boots all year round. And food and drink – and toilet paper.

And if you are afraid of mice, then you might want to reconsider going there at all.


Next: The old Norwegian farm | The cotter’s holding | Husmannsplass