The Sami used a turf or sod building called goahti, or gamme (plural gammer) as the Norwegians call it. This type of building was used wherever the Sami lived, from Hedmark in southeastern Norway to Finnmark in the north. The gamme could be used as a barn or as a dwelling. In some places people and animals shared a gamme

Goahti (Gamme)

This gamme is a winter dwelling which has two rooms, an anteroom and the gamme itself. The main room is round and has an open-hearth in the middle with a smoke vent at the top. The anteroom was used for storing equipment and prevented heat from escaping directly out the door.

A summer gamme would not have this anteroom. The Sami have a unique method for constructing gammer and tents. Two bent posts are joined at one end creating a smooth arch. This arched pair is joined to another by a long pole at the top of the arch, and by another pole along each side of the arch. Poles are then placed vertically against this framework and are covered by a layer of birch bark followed by a layer of sod. A gamme could last up to 30 years. In Finnmark and longer in the south where the weather was less harsh. The arrange­ment and use of the interior space was strictly defined and was the same for a gamme and a tent. The hearth was in the middle of the room. Poles were placed along the floor creating a narrow corridor from the door to the hearth and from the hearth to the wall opposite the door. In the "corridor" nearest the door, fuel for burning was kept. The opposite "corridor" was the kitchen area where the food box and utensils were kept. The space on both sides of the corridor was used for sitting and sleeping. Clothes and bedclothes were kept against the waIIs. The ground was covered by birch branches and reindeer skins. Everyone had a specific place in the gamme.

The gamme at the Folk Museum was built during the summer of 1992 by Jonas Danielsen from Engerdal in Hedmark. Danielsen is a reindeer herding Sami and was born in 1931 in a gamme like this one. He is one of the few Sami in the south of Norway who still build gammer in the traditional way.


The njalla is a storehouse set on posts. In the north, the storehouse could be placed on the top of a sawed off tree trunk two or three meters (6.5 - 10 feet) above the ground. The storehouses were larger in the south and were often placed on two, three or fours posts which were not as high as those in the north.