The cultural heritage

Published by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage

The cultural heritage provides a physical record of our history. Historical buildings, burial mounds and cultural environments yield information about people’s lives and activities throughout history.

The Vega archipelago in Nordland, a World Heritage site since 2004. The islands are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic weather, but have been settled by fishermen and hunters since 10 000 years ago. Photo: Jon Brænne, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Urnes stave church is Norway's oldest, and dates back to the 1100s. It stands on a promontory overlooking Sognefjorden, Norway's longest fjord, and is still used for weddings and services. Photo: Leif Anker, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

This building in Trondheim has been listed as a good example of urban architecture in Norway in the late 1700s/early 1800s. Now a popular café, the building has at different times housed stables and a laundry. Photo: Siv Leden, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

The bandstand in Birkelunden in Oslo. The Birkelunden park and surrounding streets are considered to be of national importance, and this is the only urban area that has been given statutory protection as a cultural environment. Photo: Lene Buskoven, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Storms can cause serious damage to buildings. This boathouse near the ruins of Selje monastery in Sogn og Fjordane was blown right across the inlet during a storm. Photo: Inger-Marie Aicher Olsrud, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Value of the cultural heritage

The cultural heritage can provide a basis for business activities, tourism and local development, so that cultural heritage protection is an investment in our own future. The loss of buildings, structures or sites is irreversible, and also means that we lose parts of a vital repository of knowledge.

Damage and decay

Many historical buildings and industrial installations are abandoned once they are no longer in use. They need regular maintenance to halt damage and decay caused by wind and weather. Archaeological sites can be damaged by excavations and development, and older buildings maye be demolished as towns grow and develop. It is therefore important to have a clear idea of which buildings and sites we wish to protect for posterity.

Norway will protect a cross-section of its cultural heritage

Norway’s national targets are to protect a representative selection of cultural monuments, sites and environments, and to limit annual losses. Anyone involve in planning processes and development projects must take into consideration the impacts on the cultural heritage.