Viking Heritage Abbey in Norway

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After a short ferry ride across the Trondheim’s fjord, you arrive in Rissa on the Fosen peninsula where you can  visit Rein Abbey, a Viking heritage abbey in Norway.

Once Rein Abbey was a Roman Catholic religious house for women located in Rissa to the northwest of Trondheim. Reins monastery was apparently an aristocratic convent pin for women from the nobility, who had remained unmarried, or wanted to devote to learning. There were many abbeys in Europe. In Scandinavia, however, nunneries were the only institutions in which women were able to acquire education.

Viking Heritage Abbey in Norway
Reins monastery was apparently an aristocratic convent pin for women from the nobility. Photo Wikipedia

Harald Fairhair (ca. 860 – 933) was the Viking king who started the series of kings who used Rein as a royal court. King Olav Kyrre had the estate of his closest advisors Skule Tostesson, transfered to the son of Toste Godwinsson. Duke Skule Bårdsson inherited the farm from his father’s family and built a nunnery, whose church was dedicated to the Apostle Andrew around 1230.

There is no definite information on what order it belonged to, but it may well have followed the Rule of St. Augustine. It seems to have been a collegiate foundation, or community of secular canonesses, for noblewomen. The buildings were struck by lightning and burnt down in 1317, but quickly repaired.

Inger til Austråt (Lady of Austraat) became matron of the monastery in 1531. After the Reformation, the monastery was transferred as crown property. Sigrid Undset’s novel character Kristin Lavransdatter spent her last years there.

Viking Heritage Abbey in Norway
Hans H. Horneman (60) runs Reins Abbey as the tenth Horneman in the line.

Since 1704, the estate has been associated with the family of Trondheim merchant, Henrik Hornemann (1644-1716).

Today, Hans H. Horneman (60) runs Reins Abbey as the tenth Horneman in the line.

After he finished secondary school, he had a desire to become a photographer. But he was too young to enter the studies. The choice was therefore to go to the United States.

At the age of 17, he went to Colorado as an exchange student. He moved back to Norway and has since lived in both Bergen and Oslo.

In 2000, he returned to Rissa and took over the farm. After he took over Reins Abbey, he built a new barn and switched to organic farming. At that time, his father’s cows produced 6,500 liters of milk each. In 2004, after the farm was rearranged, his cows produced 8,000 liters.

Viking Heritage Abbey in Norway
he property was completely protected in 2014. Photo: Reins Abbey

“I hope Reins Abbey can be a positive spark for others, and therefore I feel it is important to run my farm organically,” he once said in an interview with the local paper Fosna-Folket.

The first ice cream from Reins Abbey went on sale in 2009. The beer in 2014. Reins Abbey was Norway’s first organic beer brewery. In 2009, the estate had 1800 hectares, of which 57 are farmed arable land and 320 managed forests.

Once Hans H. Horneman was a dairy farmer. In recent years, he became a producer of award-winning ice cream and organic beer and aquavit. However, the production of both ice and beer was shut down in 2021. They’re still producing organic aquavit.

The property was completely protected in 2014. Today, the wooden white main building still shines like a diamond in the sun placed on a staggering height in the otherwise flat and undulating Rissa landscape.

Viking Heritage Abbey in Norway
The wooden white main building shines like a diamond in the sun. Photo: Wikipedia

The monastery grounds and garden are open all year round. Parking at the church.

Kårhuset (housing for retired farmers) at Reins Kloster has 2 apartments that can be rented through airbnb. The largest has 3 bedrooms while the smallest has one bedroom.

Viking Heritage Abbey in Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): © kulturarv.no

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.

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