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The parish of Rødenæs was established as a municipality January 1, 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). The district of Rømskog was separated from Rødenes as a municipality of its own January 1, 1902. The split left Rødenes with a population of 1,378.
The municipality (originally the parish) was named after the old farm Rødenes, since the first church was built there. The first element is (maybe) derived from Norse rauðr 'red', the last element is nes n 'headland'.
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