This study demonstrates how routes over mountain plateaus and passes connected farms, hamlets and regions. The routes enabled wide social and economic networks and were a prerequisite for regional surplus production in the Norwegian inland areas from the Viking Age.
Iron, furs, skins and antlers were among the important commodities for farmers in the mountain and valley regions. These resources were exchanged for goods from the coastal areas, and it is likely that the purpose for much of the traffic over the mountains was trade. Medieval law texts and later historical sources indicate that the bulk of the traffic over mountains took place during the summer. The commodities were transported on packhorses or by foot.
Using archaeological sites and findings, as well as place-names and historical sources, I have mapped the main mountain trails in South Norway. The historical significance of these communication routes are indicated by large burial sites, some consisting of hundreds of burial mounds, at the foot of several mountain crossings. These sites are testament to the great importance and value of communication and transportation across mountains passes – and its control – well before the extensive regional surplus production from the last half the Viking Age.