History

Nes and Helgøya are beautifully situated in the middle of lake Mjøsa. When we talk about Nes, we are referring to the old Nes municipality and its geographical boundaries. Rich soils and sunny hillsides encouraged people to settle here as far back as in the Stone Age.

The Old Nes Municipality consists of an area from Solbergåsen and Liberget in the northwest, to Helgøya with Hovinsholmen in the south. Otherwise Nes is surrounded by Norway's largest lake, Mjøsa. Nes became part of the large municipality of Ringsaker in 1964. Today, approx. 3.500 people live on the Nes peninsula.

Already in the Neolithic times people lived at Nes and on Helgøya. People were gatherers and hunters, and moved wherever they found good hunting, fishing and rich soil for a decent harvest.

In the Bronze Age, from 1800 B.C., man began to cultivate the soil. While they continued to hunt and fish, they obtained livestock and settled permanently. During this time many people settled on the  sunny slopes leading to the lake. The wealthiest people at Nes probably lived on the hillside towards Nessundet at Ullinshov. When they died, the most powerful ‘nesnings’ were interned in burial mounds having great views. There are three such burial mounds at Hornsodden on Helgøya. You can also see several stone Cup Marks in the area where the bronze age people sacrificed.

During the the older Iron Age the climate became colder, and people had to build better houses for both themselves and for their animals. The farms were large, because the arable plots were small and were scattered where the soil was the best. We recognize these farms by their single syllable names describing nature. On Nes we are fairly certain that the oldest settlement is “By” (which means farm). Ullinshov (previously called “Vin”), Horn, Eik, Sund, Hol and Aske are also such farm names. More farms were eventually cultivated between these large farms. The person that farmed the land was now called "buandi" - bonde = farmer. Nes-farms with double syllable nature-names as well as those ending with -heim, originate from the early Iron Age.

The period from 350-550 A.D. is called the Migration Period. During this time, we know that the wealthiest people on Nes were in contact with people both around the Oslo Fjord and maybe further down into Europe. They had large ships and were able to sail down lake Mjøsa and all the way down to the Oslo Fjord. A woman's grave from the 400’s A.D. is found at Gaalaas, one of the richest finds from this period in the Mjøsa area. From Gaalaas to Trostberget a little to the west, the highest point on the Nes headland, we find burial mounds lined up in a row.  During this time a stone hill fort was buildt on Trostberget, and also at Eikstoppen on Helgøya.  From here you have splendid views of the neighboring communities. There was also shelter for both people and livestock there.

Liberget and Eikstoppen were also the sites for beacons, a method of warning the approach of an enemy, or to give any kind of warning. This remained so until the beginning of the 1800’s. During the  Viking Age the population increased sharply.  Around 1000 A.D., there were about 50 farms at Nes.

In pre-Christian times, we know that the Norse gods were worshiped at Nes. Farm names such as Hovie and Hovinsholm indicate this. (Hov or Hof  was a pagan site of worship.)

At Ullinshov they would have made their sacrificies  to the god Ull (Ullin); at  Baldishol  to Balder and on Torsberget to the god Thor.

With Christianity came the churches, and the community was divided into four parishes, Ullinshov, Berg, Steinarhof (Sterud) and Baldishol. The medieval church at Nes was originally a single nave church, built in limestone at about 1250 AD. 

In the 1300’s Nes got it’s own sheriff; the place for public executions was situated midway between Stavsjø and Aske. The community was divided into four Fjerding (Quarters); North, Mid and West Fjerdingen, in addition to Helgøya. The King and The Church took over an increasing number of farms in the district, and the farmers became tenant farmers. It was only into the 1700’s, that the farmers again became freeholders.

About a third of the population of Nes died during the Black Death in1349. Many farms became abandoned and remained so until the 1600’s when there was a population growth. These farms (Ødegarder) were then cleared and the cotter system emerged. It was tough times for many, and during the 1800’s  a lot of people migrated,  both to the cities and to the Americas. During this time many local associations emerged, both idealistic, cultural and political. This enrichment of  associations still characterises our community today.

In 1837 the laws of local self government came into being. This gave both rural and urban areas a right to govern themselves. The municipality of Nes grew, eventually with roads, mail, permanent schools, churches, poor law and tax authorities, and even a savings bank. The municipal building of “Tingnes” was completed in 1892.

Businesses were founded based on local agriculture; dairies, brickworks, lime works, distilleries, mills, sawmills and grain cleaning. The boy’s home “Toftes Gave” was established at  Sund from the 1870’s, until it became a home for the mentally handicapped from about 1950.

There are remnants of public piers and quays many places along the Nes shore line. The lake has always been of great importance to the people at  Nes, whether it was fishing, transportation of goods or of passengers. Until the 1980’s, the Nes-ferry and the Mjøs-ferry played a very important part in transporting people and vehicles between the east and west side of the lake. In 1957 the Nessundet bridge was built between the island and Nes,  thus bringing the islanders and the “nesninger”  closer together.

On the First of January 1964 the district of Nes was absorbed into the municipality of Ringsaker. Much has also changed since then.

Business at Nes is constantly changing. We still remain primarily a farming community, with good conditions for growing grains, vegetables, fruit and berries. Most local stores have closed; the Mjøs ferry has made her last journey; the small local schools have closed, and the local post offices have now become in-store post-offices at the two supermarkets. A new primary school for the entire district was completed in 2008, replacing the five rural schools on Nes and Helgøya. Many have to travel outside of Nes to work, while technological innovations make it possible to work from Nes within many industries. The people of Nes have more leisure time and structures change. Mjøsa is now used more for recreation than for making a living. Meeting places have moved. But the life of old clubs and associations, the orchestras and choirs continue to flourish, and the people of Nes are continuing to meet at the Kulturhus at Tingnes, at the Marina at Sund, at the new school or in the new sports hall at Stavsjø.

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