History of Lofoten

The first people came to Lofoten about 6000 years ago. Stone Age people lived by fishing and hunting in an area with good living. The whole Lofoten was covered with large pine and birch forests. There were deer, bear, caribou, lynx, beaver, and the sea was full of fish, seals and whales.

Agriculture developed early, and already 4000 years ago grain was harvested in Lofoten. In the Viking Era we saw the emergence of several great chief seats.

In Borg in Vestvågøy, there are found remains of a chieftain of the largest banquet hall you know from the Viking Age in Scandinavia. The building was 8.5 meters wide, 83 meters long. A reconstruction of the building is listed on the Borg. LOFOTR Viking Museum was opened in June 1995.

The Lofoten Fisheries became important on an early stage. King Øystein found the fishing so important that he already in 1103, built a church in Vågan, which was, at that time, the center of of the Lofoten Fishery. It seemed he also built the first cabins that are mentioned in the saga, ca. year 1120. Stockfish, produced from spawning cod was the most important commodity, and it was exported to almost all of Europe. Italy is still the most important market for high-quality stockfish from Lofoten.

Kabelvåg is the location of the North Calottes only township in the Middle Ages, Vågar. From the 1300s on, Lofoten paid taxes to Bergen. This was the beginning of a 600 year long economic dominance, first exercised by the Hanseatic League, and later by their Norwegian heirs.

The changing times of famine and poverty were succeeded by periods of good years and great wealth. From 1860 came the great herring migrations as the basis of growth, prosperity and immigration. The foundation of today’s settlement was established.