Tore Hund from Bjarkøy, Troms, was among the country’s richest and mightiest chiefs. He went from being Olaf Haraldssons lendmann to being his greatest enemy and assassin at the battle of Stiklestad. The change came from years of fighting for resources and riches, and it came to a head in 2023 when the king’s representative, Tore Sel, was killed at Avaldsnes. Therefore, in 2023 Tore Hund’s kingdom has its 1000th anniversary as a part of the National anniversary – Millennial Norway, and the theme this year is “resources and riches”.

Stiklestad National Cultural Centre and Museene Arven will work toward showcasing Sami aspects in our presentations about the viking age and the middle ages in the coming years. We do this in collaboration with the other museums in Trøndelag.



Resources have always been a pillar of power, and the struggle for resources was critical to the nation-making in which King Olaf Haraldsson was significant. In 2023 it all culminated in the so-called grain dispute, which helped amplify the conflict between King Olaf and the coast aristocracy in Western and Northern Norway.

One can still see past wealth in Bjarkøy, where the archaeologists have found the site of Tore Hund’s boathouse – a space big enough for ships bigger than both Oseberg and Gokstad. Much of the foundation of the great wealth of the chiefs along the coast was taxing and trading with the Sami. The trading goods were fur products, seal- and whale skin rope and bird down. In addition to this, the Sami built good boats. Ottars from Hålogaland writes thoroughly about Sami trading and taxation in his travel memoirs from the 800s.

In addition to this, Snorri’s tales about the Battle at Stiklestad also show close contact and trade with the Sami:

“King Olaf hewed at Thorer Hund, and struck him across the shoulders; but the sword would not cut, and it was as if dust flew from his reindeer-skin coat”.

“Thorer Hund, in these two winters (A.D. 1029-1030), had made a Lapland journey, and each winter had been a long time on the mountains, and had gathered to himself great wealth by trading in various wares with the Laplanders. He had twelve large coats of reindeer-skin made for him, with so much Lapland witchcraft that no weapon could cut or pierce them any more than if they were armor of ring-mail, nor so much”.



Peter Nicolai Arbo, The Death of Olaf II at the Battle of Stiklestad, 1859.



In several artistic portrayals of the Battle of Stiklestad, such as the picture above, Tore Hund wears reindeer fur or a ‘beaska’. In the Christian tale of the battle, Tore Hund represents paganism through his association with the Sami and his magical reindeer kofte/cardigan. As the King’s murderer, he stands as a stark contrast against the Christian King – the bright and glowing Saint Olaf.

This stereotype and vilifying portrayal of Tore Hund and the Sami persisted and augmented with the national romantic Norwegianization project. The central Sami role in Norwegian Viking Age and Middle Ages society has been and is still terribly suppressed.

To make visible the Sami in one of the great Norwegian tales, the Várdobáiki museum has carried out a research project to remake the garment that Tore Hund wore during the battle. Snorre describes it as a cardigan, but the diverse composite resource group at Várdobáiki found it could be a čehporis – a collar-like cape made of reindeer fur. The artisan, or duojàr, behind this čehporis, is Ellen Berit Dalbakk.