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Northern Gudbrandsdalen at Dovre village

Gudbrandsdalen is a valley and traditional district in the Norwegian county of Oppland. The valley is oriented in a north-westerly direction from Lillehammer and the lake of Mjøsa, extending 230 kilometers (140 mi) toward Romsdalen. The river of Gudbrandsdalslågen (Lågen) flows through the valley, starting from Lesjaskogsvatnet and ending at Mjøsa. The Otta (river) flowing through Otta valley is a major tributary to Lågen. Together with Glomma river and Glomma's valley, Lågen and Gudbrandsdalen forms Norway's largest river/valley system. Gudbrandsdalen is home to Dovre Line and the E6 road, and is the main land transport corridor through South Norway, from Oslo and central eastern lowlands to Trondheim and Møre og Romsdal.

The valley is divided into three parts: Norddalen (the municipalities of Lesja, Dovre, Skjåk, Lom, Vågå and Sel), Midtdalen (the municipalities of Nord-Fron, Sør-Fron and Ringebu), and Sørdalen (the municipalities of Øyer, Gausdal and Lillehammer).

The name[edit]

The name Gudbrandsdalen means 'the valley/dale of Gudbrand'. Gudbrand (Norse Guðbrandr) is an old male name compounded of guð, 'god' and brandr, 'sword'. This was probably a title used by the kings of the valley living at Hundorp.


Battle of Kringen 1612 depicted by Georg Nielsen Strømdal (1856-1914)
German Ju-52 shot down at Dombås, April 1940

Gudbrandsdalen was shaped by the recent ice age and rivers from the present glacial areas in Jotunheimen and Dovre. Bones and teeth from mammoths and musk oxen, living in the area at that time, are found in the valley.

Stone Age - Several traces of hunters are found in the valley (and in the mountain areas around). Of special interest is a rock carving of elks in the northern part of Lillehammer.

1015 - Gudbrandsdalen is mentioned extensively in the Heimskringla (Chronicle of the Kings of Norway) by Snorri Sturluson. The account of King Olaf's (A.D. 1015-1021) conversion of Dale-Gudbrand to Christianity is popularly recognized.

1206 The heir to the Norwegian throne, Håkon Håkonsson, was saved by birkebeiners with a ski-run from Lillehammer to Rena.

1349 to 1350 – The Black Plague halved the population in Gudbrandsdal. This resulted in a temporary improvement for the lower classes as crofters became scarce and even the poor were able to rent the better farms in the bottom lands.

1537 - During the Reformation the Church was subordinated to the lendmenn or sheriffs. Church property was appropriated by the Crown and the King became the biggest Gudbrandsdalen landowner.

1612 - In the Battle of Kringen, near Otta in Gudbrandsdalen, local peasants defeated a Scottish mercenary army. The legends of this battle live on to this day, including the story of how the peasant girl Prillar-Guri lured the Scots into an ambush by playing the traditional ram's horn.

1670 to 1725 – Most of the royal property was sold off to pay for war debts, first to established property holders, but increasingly to peasant proprietors. A freeholders' era began and a new "upper class" of land holders was formed.

1789 Storofsa - the greatest flood recorded in Gudbrandsdalen: Several farms were devastated, and many people killed.

1827 the city of Lillehammer is established.

1856 the paddle steamer Skibladner on Lake Mjøsa and Hovedbanen (the first railroad in Norway) connected Gudbrandsdalen to Christiania.

1894 The Hamar-Selbanen railway is completed to Tretten.

1904 The outdoor museum of Maihaugen, exhibiting old houses from all parts of Gudbrandsdalen, opened at Lillehammer.

1921 Dovrebanen, the new main railway between Oslo and Trondheim, was completed through Gudbrandsdalen.

1940 (april) Severe fighting in Gudbrandsdalen at Tretten and Kvam as well as Dombås, trying to stop the German advance. British troops engaged German troops in land battles for the first time in World War 2 after many months of Phoney War.

1994 The 1994 Winter Olympics were celebrated at Lillehammer.


Otta town at the confluence of river Otta and river Lågen.

Mountain areas close to the valley[edit]

River Lågen forms a delta where it flows into lake Mjøsa.

Named for Gudbrandsdal[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 61°08′N 10°21′E / 61.133°N 10.350°E / 61.133; 10.350