Sunday, August 8, 2010


Røros or, maybe more accurately, Bergstaden Røros lies about 45km from the Swedish border, and although there is a mining museum there, it would possibly be more accurate to call the town a museum, at least the old part of it.
Copper mining started in Røros in 1646. Legend has it that, in 1644, a farmer called Hans Olsen Aasen shot a reindeer, and in it's death throws it kicked up a stone which shone in the sunlight. Two years later a mining operation had been set up to mine the copper ore, and a smelting works established beside the river Hyttelva.
Danish and German experts were brought in and the Røros area soon became an important copper mining community.
The old town, which consisted of two parallel streets, was planned in 1651 and quickly built to house the management and workers, and these buildings are still standing to this day. Not just as an exhibit, but as working buildings occupied by shops and families. This area of the town is one of the few mining towns in the world that have made it on to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Here's a few pictures from those streets.
The nearest building in that last picture houses the local police station.

Near the top of one of the streets, Kjerkgata, stands this impressive Church.
Built in 1784, and valued at 1/11th of the copper production for that year, it is a truly impressive building.
Sadly the church was closed for internal renovation work when we were there so no interior pictures.
I did wonder why the church was stone built, rather than the normal wood construction, until I remembered that by the time it was built the whole area had been deforested to provide wood for the fires of the smelting plant.
From above the church I took this photo looking over towards the slag heaps which still remain, and are protected as part of the heritage site status.
And this picture which shows some of the back yards of Kjerkgata. With an ugly modern building in the foreground.
As the forests in the area were exhausted, it became easier to transport the ore to new smelting sites, rather than drag wood to Røros. New smelters were built in forested areas, and this spread including the associated deforestation, continued until the railway was introduced, at which point the smelter at Røros became the main one again.
Since the smelter was a wooden building it needless to say burned down a few times in its life, up until the smelting operation ceased in 1953. The smelting works was finally completely destroyed by fire in 1975, and 2 years later, in 1977, the copper works was declared bankrupt.
That could have been the end of the story, but in 1988 the current building, Smelthytta, was built on the site as a museum.
Here's the building.

And some of the old buildings around it.

And the river which runs past it, which provided water to power the bellows and machinery in the plant.
Inside the Smelthytta a fantastic array of scale models have been built to show how the mines, smelter, and associated works operated. Most of the models are 'working' examples and the detail is incredible. These photos just don't do justice to the care that the model makers have given to these displays.
There are also displays showing clothing from the period, work tools, etc., etc,. So much that it's impossible to describe.
And of course a souvenir shop where I bought this. A little copper ingot and a chunk of ore.
We only had a couple of hours in the town, and believe me that is nowhere near long enough. We shall return for a real visit sometime, when we have at least a day to spare. There is also a mine which can be visited, about 11km from the town, but I'm not sure if I'd do that bit. Something about Shetlanders preferring to be in a boat on the sea, not in a dank cold mine. ;)
But all in all Røros is a fantastic town to visit and I would thoroughly recommend that any visitor to Norway, at any time of year, add it to their list of 'must see' places.
For more information, have a browse around this website

Next post will include Tynset, a town which falls so far short of Røros, that it is off the scale. ;)

Yun's aa fir enoo

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