Numedal is a valley which extends from the Hardanger plateau down to the town of Kongsberg. Nore and Uvdal near the Hardanger plateau are steep mountain regions, while Flesberg and Rollag to the southeast are gently sloping and forested. Farms in all parts of Numedal had land for cultivation and access to forest and mountain wilderness for grazing, hunting and fishing.

The Numedal Farmstead at Norsk FolkemuseumNumedal was an isolated and sparsely populated area before silver mining began and the town of Kongsberg achieved international significance. Mining created thousands of new jobs, and people moved to Numedal to get work, especially to Flesberg.

Farms in Numedal were located both in the flat valley bottom and up on the hillsides. The arrangement of the farm buildings varied. Most often, buildings were arranged randomly over a large area, with the innhus lying higher up the hillside than the uthus. At one time the double-square tun was common.

Vernacular architecture in Numedal is very similar to that of other eastern valleys. However, no other area has so many medieval buildings still in existence. Two of the buildings on the Norwegian Folk Museum's Numedal farmstead date from before the Black Death in 1349.

The Numedal Farmstead

The Museum's buildings from Numedal are placed more closely together than was the custom in Numedal. The farmstead was constructed in two periods; around 1900 when the dwelling houses were erected, and around 1940 when the idea of showing a complete farmstead was realized by the addition of the other buildings. The farmstead contains most of the 20 different types of buildings found on Numedal farms during the first half of the 1800s. There is an eldhus for baking, but the vasshus for washing and heating water is missing. There is no bur for storing food nor is there a root cellar. It was customary in Numedal to have a winter house and a summer house, but very seldom three dwellings as on the Museum's farmstead.

The reason there are three dwellings here is to show the historical development of houses from the Middle Ages to the time of Norway's industrialization. This theory of development was based on Eilert Sundt's fieldwork and research, and clearly influenced the Norwegian Folk Museum's founder Hans Aall. Because of the large number of "pure" dwelling types in Numedal, this farmstead was chosen to illustrate the development of Norwegian dwellings. The house from Rauland (21) is an årestue and represents the Middle Ages with its three room plan, open hearth (åre) and smoke vent in the roof. The house from Grøsli (22) is the next stage in the development and dates from the 1600s. The fireplace with a chimney, wooden floor and windows are typical of this stage. The house from Væråsmo (23) represents the 1700s and the next stage in the historical development. While still clearly related to the other two types, the house has a new floor plan. Instead of entering through an antechamber, the doorway leads directly into the main room and the two smaller rooms have been made into one big room. 

Dwelling House from Søre Rauland in Uvdal, ca. 1250-1300

When this house was erected at the Museum it underwent an extensive restoration. Everything that did not date from the Middle Ages was removed including windows, the fireplace and newer furnishings. Missing medieval elements were not reconstructed. The åre, or open hearth, was not put in because of uncertainty about its original position. The table is original. The built-in benches around the walls were filled with earth to prevent drafts from the space between the foundation and the groundsills.

The house was painstakingly built with large round logs. The special corner notching, known as raulandslaft after the house, is complicated and precise. This type of corner notching became widespread in the following centuries. The house's groundsills are noteworthy because of their size, form and decoration. The decorative motif is repeated throughout the house. A gallery once covered the front of the house and remnants of the gallery on the gable wall are still evident. A door leading to the sleeping loft is visible on the gable wall. This door and the steps leading to it were originally inside the enclosed gallery.

The carved door posts resemble contemporary church portals, having columns with bases and capitals, and Romanesque vine decoration. Above the door is a runic inscription: Thorgautr fifil mik gerdi, "Torgaut Fivil made me". The type of  runes and the grammar make it possible to date the inscription to 1250-1300.

The house is lofty and large, nearly 60 square meters (645 square feet). High ceilings in open hearth houses were not uncommon; the smoke should preferably settle above peoples' heads. The roof is made of rafters supported by two sets of purlins. Three crossbeams stabilize the walls from the lateral pressure of the roof. One of these beams is different from the others and was probably added later, perhaps when windows were added in the 1700s.

The smoke vent in the roof, or ljore, is the only source of light in the main room. The word ljore is related to the word ljos, meaning light.

Above the chamber and antechamber is a sleeping loft with a built-in bed and bench. This sleeping loft had a small opening in the wall for light and was indirectly heated by the main room.

A wooden floor, fireplace with chimney, and windows were presumably added to the house in 1734. Another inscription between the door and the runes reads: J Roulan MDCCXXXIIII. The house from Rauland is preserved by the Norwegian law protecting historical monuments. The loft (24) is from the same farm.