Illustration - the woolly mammoth. | © Daniel -

Illustration - the woolly mammoth. | © Daniel -

Norwegian history timeline | The ice ages

In Scandinavia, there have been as many as 30 ice ages over the last 2.5 million years. The latest period stretched between 115,000 and 10,000 BC.

The ice expanded and retreated

Massive sheets of ice once covered the land that we call Norway today. The glaciers were up to 3,000 metres tall, and they constantly expanded and retreated.

Within and in between each of the thirty ice ages, warmer periods occurred, allowing plants and animals to return. Norwegian archaeologists have found animal remains dating back to such interglacial periods.

Finds include the mammoth, the muskox, and the woolly rhinoceros. But as far as scientists know today, there were no humans in this part of the world before or during the ice ages.

Transformed the landscape

The glaciers were like enormous and slow-moving bulldozers, completely transforming the underlying rock formations.

The ice shaped the fjords, the mountain peaks, and the valleys – and moved and dropped vast amounts of rocks, stones, sand, and other residues.

Even today, the ice age signs are everywhere in the landscape.

Every year, the winter frost pushes up a seemingly never-ending amount of stones and rocks in most Norwegian farmers’ fields, dropped by the melting ice, all those thousands of years ago.

Human history

With the end of the latest ice age, some 12,000 years ago, came the beginning of human history in this part of the world.

The ice first melted along the coastline – and then gradually further inland. Plants and animals followed in its wake.

With the animals came the predators – among them the humans. The first people were nomadic or semi-nomadic hunters, fishers, and gatherers. They followed the seasons and the movements of the prey.

When old tales speak of the beginning of time, they speak of these first, small groups of people, who initially populated Norway’s coastline, then the inland fjords, valleys, and mountain plateaus.

Return to: The Norwegian history timeline overview

Source: Universitetet i Oslo. 2022.07.18. | MNR.00002

By LA Dahlmann | My Norwegian heritage
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