Cultural Heritage

St. Olavsknippen

Situated along Østerdalsleden

Foto: Toralf Neraas

From Lake Håen, the Østerdalsleden follows an old hiking road up to St. Olavsknippen, which is a distinctive place with both tradition and myth attached to it.

An old legend tells about the origin of the name St. Olavsknippen. It is said that it was originally a gathering place for pagan worship. Olav Haraldsson - Olav the Holy (Olav the Stout) - met strong opposition from the people who kept their customs and inherited faith, he still won over them. It was worse to control all the beasts who had power over the people, such as scoundrels, trolls, goblins and dwarves. These had to shelter from the Christian faith. They went together to St. Olavsknippen to attack the king when he came over the mountain. It was a violent blow, and it was said that it smelled of sulfur for many years afterwards. The king drifted the beasts towards the slope in the southwest, which thus lies as stone in mounds and groves. The trolls suffered defeat and many of them burst with fear.

Today we see that the rock is split and that a piece of rock is missing, this was what Olav threw after the beasts down over Gammelsæterdalen valley. As a counterforce to the beasts that had transformed themselves into fish-like creatures, the king made a deep hole in the mountain which he filled with holy water as a remedy against monsters. The water was said to have a strong power. When the farmers came to the pastures in the summer, they came and fetched the woly water in closed buckets, such that nothing would go to waste, because then the water lost its power. Drops of the holy water were splashed over the pastures in a local ritual act. If one had been lucky with the holy water, and the summer had been good, the farmes had to make a sacrifices in the wells. A metal object was thrown into the source while reading something reminiscing a prayer.

Today, the place is signposted and marked with a tree-cross. Christian outdoor masses are held annually on site.