The ice expanded and retreated
Massive sheets of ice once covered the land that we call Norway today. The glaciers were up to 3,000 metres tall, and they constantly expanded and retreated.
Within and in between each of the thirty ice ages, warmer periods occurred, allowing plants and animals to return. Norwegian archaeologists have found animal remains dating back to such interglacial periods.
Such finds include the mammoth, the muskox, and the woolly rhinoceros. But as far as scientists know today, there were no humans in this part of the world before or during the ice ages.
Transformed the landscape
The glaciers were like enormous and slow-moving bulldozers, completely transforming the underlying rock formations. They also moved and dropped vast amounts of rocks, stones, sand, and other residues.
The Norwegian valleys, the mountain peaks and plateaus, and the occasional lowland plain, were all created by the ice. And Norway’s countless fjords are nothing but deep valleys flooded by seawater.
Even today, the ice age signs are everywhere in the landscape. Every year, the winter frost pushes up a seemingly never-ending amount of stones and rocks in most Norwegian farmers’ fields, dropped by the melting ice, all those thousands of years ago.
When the ice-age glaciers finally melted, over a period of thousands of years, a moon-like landscape appeared.
Sections of the landscape still look the same, with hardly any vegetation at all. Just rock covered by sand, pebbles, stones, and boulders – debris from the Earth’s ancient crust, left there by the melting ice or its rushing rivers of meltwater.
When you next walk through a Norwegian forest, look under the roots of a fallen tree; despite the fact that thousands of years have passed since the last ice age, you may be surprised to see the still rather shallow layer of soil.
And if you see a vast boulder on top of a mountain, or scattered across the landscape; its origin may be hundreds of kilometres away.
Source: Universitetet i Oslo. norgeshistorie.no | EGP.00005