The wedding in Lofoten in the Middle Ages


Clothing fashions from Europe and other stylish foreign goods found their way to the north in the Middle Ages. The cod and stockfish trade created prosperity for those who sat at the top of the food chain. King, priest and merchant lived happy days. 

Tørrfisk henger under taket
Stockfish. Foto: Kjell Ove Storvik

Magnus Lagabøte’s National Law from 1274 is a source for understanding society in the Middle Ages. There are also archaeological finds and written documents. In one such document, it is told what is given as a dowry when Ingebjørg gets married. Dowry is what the parents send with the girl when she is married off

Excerpt from an edition of the National Act.

Royal Danish Library, GKS 1154 folio: King Magnus VI Lagabøter’s Norwegian Land Law and Other Legal Texts (Codex Hardenbergianus)

Who Ingebjørg was the daughter of is not entirely certain and we can only imagine what the wedding was like. The National Law states that weddings should not last more than two days, otherwise it will be too expensive.  

Beyond that, we know that Ingebjørg and Torleiv married in 1335 and that she received a dowry that could probably make princesses envious.  

hender broderer
Photo: Linn Olsen

Ingebjørg brought duvets and pillows, clothes and tablecloths, bed linen and jewelry. The mattresses had German covers, and the pillows had covers woven into squares. Some pillows were in silk and sheets had patterns. Tablecloths and towel from Germany, wool blanket from England. Robes in blue and red fabric, hoods in gray leather and white leather. Hood and cape in squirrel skin and sable. Sable is a small animal that is confusingly similar to a weasel. Ten cows, silver belt and silver jewellery. As well as half a “lest” of stockfish. A “lest” was in this case a unit of measurement and is approx. 1800 kg.  

Ermine is the weasel’s fine white winter coat.

It was only the richest who wore ermine clothes and sleep on imported mattresses. Ermine is the weasel’s fine white winter coat.

Torleiv was not a poor boy either. His family had to come with half of the value of the dowry as a gift to the bride.

More about the National Law Anniversary

The National Law Anniversary

This year we celebrate the 750th anniversary of Magnus Lagabøte’s national law. Together with a professor and historian from Nord University and UiT The Arctic University of Norway, we are working on developing fines exhibitions at several of our museums.

Magnus Lagabøte

King Magnus 6. Håkonsson, later Lagabøte, was king of Norway in the Middle Ages, and was the king behind the Land Act of 1274.