From the Viking Age to the Present


Since earliest times the county of Vestfold has been one of the main traffic routes through Norway. Vestfold county was navigable from north to south and to the west of the country. The European continent, being also accessible from Vestfold, has created trade with other countries to the south. It is for this reason that rich finds from the Viking Age are found here. Records exist in France from the late ninth century telling of the Viking fleets from Vestfold.
The districts of Larvik and Jarlsberg were merged in 1821 into the smallest county in Norway and was named Vestfold. From then on Tonsberg took over Kaupang’s function as port and trading center. Kaupang in Viksfjord, Larvik, was an important production and trade village for the Vikings in the 800s.

Kaupang - Viking trading town
Kaupang – Viking trading town

Due to its natural conditions, Tonsberg was also preferred as a royal residence for many years in that the height of its tower on Castle Hill (Slottsfjellet) enabled detection of an approaching enemy from great distance.

Slottsfjellet - Castle Rock - in Tonsberg
Slottsfjellet – Castle Rock – in Tonsberg

Residents of Vestfold have always been oriented towards the sea and seafaring. Whaling earned wealth and good days for the residents. Other cities such as Horten and Larvik, have also played a part in promoting Vestfold internationally.

Harbour of Stavern. Photo: Wikipedia
Harbour of Stavern. Photo: Wikipedia

Has the influence of this trade with other countries altered the distinctive Norwegian culture, tradition and way of life of which Norwegians are so proud? Perhaps the answer is both yes and no. By studying Vestfold compared to other nearby counties, we see tendencies to keep Norwegian traditions alive.

Vestfold national costume
Vestfold national costume

There are exciting traits when it comes to food in Vestfold.

Living on large feet with much conviviality and delicate dishes spiced the food traditions of this county more than elsewhere in Norway.
Nature has also been generous to Vestfold. One does not have to wait long before spring bears fruit. Much earlier than in other parts of Norway, berries and fruits from nature’s own larder can be enjoyed here, something food recipes from Vestfold are marked by.

Herman Wildenvey
Herman Wildenvey

One of Norway’s great poets, Herman Wildenvey, after a long and wandering life, settled down in the little village of Stavern with his wife Gidsken, also a great writer.

Vestfold has more than just poets; you find also many talented culinary artists there. Maybe it’s worth to try Grilled Salmon?

This is our favorite way to eat salmon other than smoked. Prep time includes marinating.

From the Viking Age to the Present, written by Tor Kjolberg

Grilled Salmon

Ingredients Servings 4.

1 1⁄2lbs salmon steaks or 1 1⁄2 lbs salmon fillets

Marinade ingredients
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning


1. Mix all marinade ingredients and pour over salmon. Marinate for 1 hour. Place fillets over medium hot coals.

2. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Serve with rice and asparagus.