History of Jamtland in brief

The province of Jamtland is situated in northern Scandinavia, between latitude 62° to 65°, 450 kilometres north of Stockholm and 100 km east of the Norwegian city Trondheim. Jamtland has an area of 39.600 square kilometres (Belgium 30.000 square km).

The oldest archaeological object found in Jamtland is the bone-arrow from Offerdal. It is 8.000 years old. Other, famous artifacts from the Stone Age, are the rock-carvings and rock-paintings, dating from 3000 years B.C.
These prehistoric finds do not contradict the colonization story told by Snorre Sturlasson and the other, anonymus, Icelandic authors, written in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The sagas tells us about king Harald Fine-Hair's establishment of Norwegian unity, in the late 9th century, at the cost of tyranny and war, and the killing or expulsion of many of Norway's greatest chieftains and their followers, who were unwilling to accept Harald's rule. Under these pressures a number of them left Norway, some going westwards to the newly discovered, uninhabited land called Iceland, som going eastwards over the Kjolen-mountains to a land called Jamtland, where a few Norwegians just settled some decades earlier.
From the sagas we learn how Jamtland was established as an independent country.

The oldest written document mentioning Jamtland is the famous rune stone that stands on Frösön, dated to the periode 1020 to 1030.
The rune stone tells us that Jamtland converted into Christianity at that time. It also gives us the oldest proof of the name of our country.

Jamtland was conquered by Sweden during the 17th century. Previously it had belonged to Norway for almost 500 years. After 1536 Norway became province of Denmark, and consequently the Danish king ruled us into the 17th century.
Earlier, from the Viking Age up to the 12th century, Jamtland was an independent province, a republic, ruled by the public assembly "Jamtamot" (open for all Jamtlanders) with its own laws.
This explains the origin of our language, and also why we do not have Swedish as our first language. Jamtland today has around 120.000 inhabitants. The official language is Swedish, however at least 50.000 of the inhabitants still know the language Jamska, but fewer still use it daily. The language Jamska has survived 350 years of Swedish attempts to extinguish it. It has survived mostly because the inhabitants have become bilingual. The language Jamska differs from Swedish in words, grammar and syntax. The difference can be compared to the difference between Swedish and Norwegian.

© Bo Oscarsson

  • Link to an academic review of the history of Jamtland in the past and at present time

    History of Jamtland, by Bo Oscarsson (only in Swedish)

    Back to BO Homepage

    Back to History of Jamtland

    Many thanks to Jay Liedman, a Jamtlandic descendant in Minnesota, USA, who has been so very kind helping me with the English!

    Latest update: 09/03/2000