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Bergen was the capital of Norway during the 12th/13th Centuries and has had many connections with Scotland throughout its history.

Bergen Castle

Haakon's Hall Bergen Castle

In the grounds of Bergen Castle (
Bergenhus or Festning) the Kristkirken, its Cathedral once stood. The Kristkirken is where
Margaret, the Maid of Norway, was buried alongside her mother in 1290. 

Margaret, Eiriksdottir, died in Orkney on 26th September 1290. When her grandfather had died Princess Margaret was only three years old. The Scottish Parliament appointed six Guardians to rule on her behalf, and on 18th July 1290 the Scots agreed in the Treaty of Birgham (Berwickshire) that she should marry Edward I of England's eldest son, Prince Edward. At the end of September, the eight-year-old Queen set sail for Scotland, escorted by Bishop Narve of Bergen. She was taken ill on the voyage and her ship put in at Orkney, but she died there, in the arms of the Bishop. She was buried at the Kristkirken, Bergen.  Her death left the Scottish succession open, and gave Edward I the opportunity to start his attacks on Scotland.

German Church

Better known for its German Hansa Community, Bergen also had a thriving
Scottish Community, and according to some accounts some 10% of its population in the 16/17th Century was Scottish. 

From Folk Museum in Oslo                    Bergen's Nykirken

In 2002 an exhibition on Immigration to Norway at the
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History included a small display on the Scots in Bergen.  It notes an assault by the German community on the Scots on 9th September 1523 and the Scots contribution to the construction of Bergen's Nykirken in the 1620s. Edvard Grieg, Norway's famous composer,  was the descendant of Scots immigrants, who changed their name from Greig for convenience.


In the 19th Century its
Buekorps was founded, a boys militia, unique in Norway, in order to prepare boys to join the fledgling Norwegian army as the nation sought independence from Sweden.  The uniform's headdress is the Tam o'Shanter, adopted from Scotland, as they looked back on a former period when Norway had a strong identity and influence. In the past young men from Caithness, Orkney and Shetland would seek work in Bergen as the sea roads to Bergen were shorter than the land routes to the south.

© Iain Laird, May 2006