The Ancient Grinding Mills at Leine, Valdres
There are many different types of grinding mills and many types of materials processed in them. Historically mills were powered by hand (mortar and pestle), working animal (horse mill), wind (windmill) or water (watermill). The grinding mills at Leine are water powered and situated next to a creek called Leineåne. There used to be 13 grinding mills at Vennis, but most of them were destroyed during the big flood back in 1860. Here you can see photos and read about this old Norwegian history.
This area is called Leine and it’s situated in Vang, valdres, Norway. The mills are water driven – hence the name water mills – but the mills at Leine is also called Gristmills, or corn mills – used for grinding grains into flour. Usually the grinding took place during spring or autumn, when the water levels peaked. That’s why these mills are also called «spring mills» in Norwegian.
These were undoubtedly the most common kind of mill. Flour mills were first mentioned in legal documents in Valdres in 1334, but they are probably much older. Every farm owning a water-fall had its own mill. In 1729 there were 79 mills in the Vang area: in 1919 the number had been reduced to 16.
The earliest evidence of a water-driven wheels are from the 3rd century BCE, and in Norway mills have been in use since the Middle Ages. Upstream the river was dammed up to be channeled when the mills were being used. One of the mill houses have today been restored and is fully operational.
On the north side of Leineåne (Leine Creek), next to the dam, there is also a channel leading the water to a bigger mill – the only one that was being used to grind the grain of farms that didn’t have/couldn’t afford their own mill.
All the farms in Vennis had their mills on the stream Leineåni. The Sparstad mill was probably built before 1800, the other mills were either built or reconstructed after 1860, when a great landslide ruined most of the houses in the Leine district. The mills and farms were rebuilt, and today 5 of the grinding mills have been restored og they are nicely located in this special culture landscape.
From the 1930′s until World War II the mills were used for grinding malt for the brewing of beer, and for grinding corn for fodder. Valdres Folkemuseum (Valdres Folk Museum), Fagernes, is responsible for looking after the mills and keeping them in repair, while the council of Vang pays for maintenance.
Nearby you’ll also find Leinesanden (The Leine Sand/ Leine Beach) which is said is the place where «St. Olaf» (Olaf II Haraldsson, Olav Den Hellige) tried to violently force christianity upon the inhabitants of Vang. When «St. Olaf» forced the new faith upon the people of Norway, he & his fellow christian men mutilated or murdered those who refused to accept the new god, and in some cases they also stole people’s property, so that they could fully comprehend the greatness of Jesus Christ (later on Christianity also stole pre-christian celebrations such as christmas & easter).
The nature in the area provides a perfect scenery for trekking & fishing, and you can also find burial mounds from pre-christian times.
Wikipedia: Mill (grinding)
Info poster located at site
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- Stave Churches in Norway: Hedalen Stave Church (cardinalguzman.wordpress.com)
- Stave Churches in Norway: Reinli Stave Church
- A Black & White photo from Leinekvernene (cardinalguzman.wordpress.com)