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Some notes on the history of Dalsland province.
(by Dr Fredrik Haeffner)

Eastern and Western halves
In old times only the eastern parts of present day province Dalsland were significantly populated.
The western part is mainly formed by the mountain Kroppfjäll (211 m ab.sea.lvl), clad with deep spruce forests, forming a natural border to Norway. The lands on and west of the mountain were commonly referred to as "Markerna" (literally just "the lands") implying an unknown / unchartered land or cattle grasing land. There are several references to "Markerna" in Norwegian historical documents. Through history parts of / the whole of Dalsland has belonged to Norway.
The eastern lowland, bordering on lake Vänern, was populated early on providing good farmland (once the bottom of the lake, rich in sediments). This area was referred to as "Dal" aas early as around 1180.

Ancient Remains
There are many ancient remains found in the province. 16 homesteads from the stone age and 22 "gravrösen" and "hällkistor" (ancient graves) have been identified. Also 13 "hällristningar" (picture carvings on rocks) are found.
34 "domarringar" (circles of erect stones in places used for "ting" - the local court and government meeting) dating back to around A.D. 500 still exist. The famous viking Harald Hårfagre ("Harald with the beautiful hair") conquered the province in the 9th century. In the 11th century christianity arrived and the province was incorporated in Skara stift (diocese). The oldest known christian church was built in Bolstad socken in 1149

The Name and Coat of Arms
The eastern lowland was referred to as "Dal", literally meaning "valley". This name is known since around 1180.
The first mention of the name "Dalsland" is found in 1508.

A language peculiarity is that location in this area always uses the expression "på Dal" (literally "on", "on top of") whereas the normal Swedish expression for "located in a province" is "i" (Eng "in") + name of province.
Example: "Jag är född på Dal" is "Jag är född i Dalsland" in standard Swedish (I was born in Dalsland)
The background may be that in early times it was mainly the eastern lowlands that were populated (cf above) and and the preposition "på" (Eng "on") is used in the expression "på slätten" (on the lowlands)..

(to be continued ...)

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