Nordre Ekre’s roots date back to the early Iron Age, and we know that there was the site of a “thing” (assembly) and court proceedings at Ekre in the Middle Ages. In writings from 1333 we learn that on October 7, with twelve men’s testimony, a marriage certificate was issued to Sigurd and Ingerid here. In those days, the farm was called “Eckru” – the dative form of the then name, Ekra, meaning field or fields of grass.
The farm at Ekre has been divided up several times, first in the early 1600s, when it was divided into Søre (south) and Nordre (north) Ekre. At the time, the two farms were situated close beside each other. In 1851 Nordre Ekre was divided again into two farms, Midtre (middle) Ekre and Nordre Ekre. It was then that the farmyard and complex of buildings of today’s Nordre Ekre was established. Today, only Søre and Nordre Ekre remain of the Ekre farms in Heidal.
A lot has happened here since then, but perhaps the biggest change was yet to come when, in the mid-1990s, we decided to invite the many tourists visiting Heidal into the farm. And we hope this is just the beginning of an equally long history as the one we have behind us.
The farm today has become a historic hotel, with comfortable rooms and attracting guests from all corners of the world. And the old stone barn has become a restaurant. It was quite different in the old days.
When the current yard was established after the farm was split in 1851, it was partly with buildings from the old location, partly with new buildings and partly with purchased buildings. As farming has changed over the years, several buildings have been demolished and relocated. The old barn has been converted into guest rooms and a restaurant, and the other six buildings from the 1700s form a not completely closed “firkanttun” (square yard). New housing for the older generation from the 1970s is pulled slightly back from the yard.
The buildings at Nordre Ekre are not listed or preserved, but the farm is part of the important historic building environment and cultural landscape in Heidal; with an architectural finish, building type and location in the terrain typical of the buildings in the valley from the 1600s and onwards.
Below you will learn a little more about the main buildings and what they were used for in earlier times.
The two timber storehouses at the bottom of the yard have always played an important role on the farm, primarily for storing food. Here were stored several types of grain and flour, and a salt keg for salting meat and bacon. In the roof there were plenty of hooks to hang smoked and salted meat, such as cured hams and sausages. You can see that the buildings are on robust pillars that raise the floor from the ground. The reason for this was to ensure ventilation under the floor, to avoid damp rising from the ground and to prevent rodents from getting in. The storehouse door was also one of the few doors on the farm which were locked, and the storehouse key was a status symbol and richly decorated. The storehouse on the left is from the mid-1700s and the storehouse to the right is probably from the late 1600s and thus the oldest building on the farm.
When Nordre Ekre was divided into Nordre and Midtre Ekre, this house was moved across the field. It was originally constructed as a single storey building in around 1750, and later became the main farmhouse. After a few years it was used as a “kårhus”, where the older generation on the farm lived.
Here in the bakehouse baking and brewing took place, and with the big wood-burning oven it was a hot workplace, even in the middle of winter. Because of the risk of fire, bakehouses were normally not located close to the other buildings, and it is likely that the bakehouse originally had another function.
The easiest way to explain “Aurbua’s” function, is simply to call it a fridge. This small storehouse had a dirt floor, no windows and was always dark and cold. And it allowed milk, cream, sour cream, cheeses and other fresh foods to remain fresh for as long as possible.
What we call the main farmhouse is a large timber building which is said to have been purchased from the Graffer farm in Lom in 1860, where it was taken down and transported to Heidal and re-erected where it stands today. In the corner inside the large living room you will find the typical, large soapstone fireplace, as well as dressers and cupboards decorated by local wood carvers and, in the ceiling, the solid iron rings that could be used for clothes drying and rope-making. The house was extended in length in 1985.
The stone barn was built in 1870 and has housed cows, horses, pigs and sheep. Nowadays, however, only people use this building, especially on important occasions such as christenings, anniversaries and weddings. This is where you will now find our restaurant. In earlier times, two timber barns stood close together on this site, but these buildings were unfortunately removed in around 1960 to make room for the new tractor and machinery. Nordre Ekre was a dairy farm until 1987.