Petty kingdoms of Norway

Some of the major petty kingdoms of Norway about 860.
Petty kingdoms of Norway c. 872

The petty kingdoms of Norway were the entities from which the later Kingdom of Norway was founded. Before the unification of Norway in 872 and during the period of fragmentation after King Harald Fairhair's death Norway was divided in several small kingdoms. Some could have been as small as a cluster of villages and others comprised several of today's counties.

By the time of the first historical records of Scandinavia, about the 8th century, a number of small political entities existed in Norway. The exact number is unknown, and would probably also fluctuate with time. It has been estimated that there were 9 petty realms in Western Norway during the early Viking age.[1] Archaeologist Bergljot Solberg on this basis estimates that there would have been at least 20 in the whole country.[2]

There are no written sources from this time to tell us the title used by these rulers, or the exact borders between their realms. The main written sources we have on this period, the kings' sagas, were not written until the 12th and 13th centuries. While they were in part based on skaldic poems, and possibly on oral tradition, their reliability as sources for detailed events of the Viking age continues to be debated among historians. The sagas, most notable of which is Heimskringla, often refer to the petty rulers as konungr, i.e. king, as in Agder, Alvheim, Hedmark, Hordaland, Nordmøre og Romsdal, Rogaland, Romerike, Sogn, Solør, Sunmmøre, Trøndelag, Vestfold (which at various times included several of the aforementioned) and Viken; however in Hålogaland the title was jarl (compare duke), later Ladejarl (from the rulers power base at Lade, in modern-day Trondheim). The rulers of all the areas might be called petty kings, herser, subkings, kings or jarls depending on the source. A number of small communities were gradually organised into larger regions in the 9th century, and in 872 King Harald Fairhair unified the realm and became its first supreme ruler. Many of the former kingdoms would later become jarldoms under the Norwegian high king and some would try to break free again.

Below follows an incomplete list of petty kingdoms of Norway and their known rulers. Most of the people mentioned in this list are legendary or semi-legendary. Some of the areas might have a contested status as petty kingdoms.

List of petty kingdoms and earldomsEdit

Kingdom of AgderEdit



Kings from 790–987

Kingdom of FjordaneEdit

Might also be called Firda or Firdafylke.

Rulers: Olaf brother of Anund Yngling

Kingdom of GrenlandEdit

Kingdom of GudbrandsdalenEdit


Kingdom of HadelandEdit


Kingdom of HardangerEdit

Kingdom of HedmarkEdit


Kingdom of HordalandEdit


Kingdom of HålogalandEdit


Kingdom of LandEdit

Earldom of LadeEdit


Kingdom of NamdalenEdit

Earldom of NordmøreEdit

Kingdom of OpplandEdit

The kings of Oppland go to hold council.


Kingdom of OrkdalenEdit


Kingdom of RanrikeEdit


Kingdom of RaumarikeEdit


Kingdom of RingerikeEdit


Kingdom of RogalandEdit


Kingdom of RomsdalEdit


  • Raum the Old legendary
  • Jötunbjörn the Old son of Raum
  • Raum
  • Hrossbjörn
  • Orm Broken-shell
  • Knatti
  • Thórolf and Ketill Raum (in one version, Thórolf and Ketill Raum are sons of Orm).

Kingdom of SognEdit

Kingdom of SolørEdit


Earldom of SunnmøreEdit

Kingdom of TelemarkEdit

The status of Telemark as a kingdom has been contested by some historians.

Kingdom of TotenEdit


Kingdom of TrøndelagEdit


Kingdom of VestfoldEdit


Kingdom of VestmarEdit


  • Dag the Noisy

Kingdom of VingulmarkEdit

Vingulmark is the old name for the area which today makes up the counties of Østfold and Akershus, and included the site of Norway's capital, Oslo, which had not been founded at this time. Archaeologists have made finds of richly endowed burials in the area around the estuary of the river Glomma, at Onsøy, Rolvsøy and Tune, where the remains of a ship, the Tune ship, was found. This indicates that there was a center of power in this area.[6]

There are indications that at least the southern part of this area was under Danish rule in the late 9th century. In the account of Ottar, which was written down at the court of the English king Alfred the Great, Ottar says that when he sailed south from Skiringssal, he had Denmark on the port side for three days.


Kingdom of VikenEdit


Kingdom of VossEdit


  • Skilfir
  • Skjöld
  • Eirík
  • Alrek
  • Eirík
  • Alrek
  • Víkar
  • Vatnar
  • Ímald and Eirík

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bjørn Ringstad, Vestlandets største gravminner. Et forsøk på lokalisering av forhistoriske maktsentra, (Bergen, 1986)
  2. ^ Bergljot Solberg, Jernalderen i Norge, (Oslo, 2000)
  3. ^ An article from BT on archaeological digs on Nordfjordeid (Norwegian) Retrieved 18 September 2007
  4. ^ The History Files Retrieved 19 December 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b c Snorre: Norske Kongers Chronica, 1633 –
  6. ^ Solberg 2000, p. 279