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Hafrsfjord is a fjord located in the municipalities of Stavanger and Sola in Norway, stretching 9 kilometers. It is known for the battle in 872 when King Harald "Fairhair (Harald Hårfagre) unified Norway into one kingdom.

Table of contents
1 The Battle In Hafrsfjord
2 Møllebukta
3 External links:

The Battle In Hafrsfjord

The Battle In Hafrsfjord has been a very central event in the history of the unification of Norway. The only direct source to this event is from a lay written by Torbjørn Hornklove shortly after King Harald "Fairhair" beat his enemies. The lay is very simple, dramatic and illustrative (first part translated into English here):

Hørte du i Hafrsfjord,         Did you hear in Hafrsfjord
hvor hardt de slåss der,       how hard they fought
den ættstore kongen            the high born king
med Kjotve den rike.           against Kjotve the Rich.
Knarrer kom østfra,            ships came from the east
lystne på strid,               wanting to fight,
med gapende hoder              with its threatening throats
og utskårne stavnbrett.        and of dragon fierce.

One of the best sources from the viking age, Heimskringla written by Snorri Sturluson, describes the battle in detail (although historians continue to debate the historical accuracy of Sturlason's work):

News came in from the south land that the people of Hordaland and Rogaland, Agder and Thelemark, were gathering, and bringing together ships and weapons, and a great body of men. The leaders of this were Eirik king of Hordaland; Sulke king of Rogaland, and his brother Earl Sote: Kjotve the Rich, king of Agder, and his son Thor Haklang; and from Thelemark two brothers, Hroald Hryg and Had the Hard. Now when Harald got certain news of this, he assembled his forces, set his ships on the water, made himself ready with his men, and set out southwards along the coast, gathering many people from every district. King Eirik heard of this when he same south of Stad; and having assembled all the men he could expect, he proceeded southwards to meet the force which he knew was coming to his help from the east. The whole met together north of Jadar, and went into Hafersfjord, where King Harald was waiting with his forces. A great battle began, which was both hard and long; but at last King Harald gained the day. There King Eirik fell, and King Sulke, with his brother Earl Sote. Thor Haklang, who was a great berserk, had laid his ship against King Harald's, and there was above all measure a desperate attack, until Thor Haklang fell, and his whole ship was cleared of men. Then King Kjotve fled to a little isle outside, on which there was a good place of strength. Thereafter all his men fled, some to their ships, some up to the land; and the latter ran southwards over the country of Jadar.

There have been attempts to dive in Hafrsfjord to find remains from the battle. However, nothing has been found, and it is therefore uncertain more specifically where in Hafrsfjord the battle took place. Also the actual year of the battle, 872, has been disputed. This year does not logically fit with the age of King Harald, who would only be 10 years old in 872. Later predictions have moved the date closer to year 900.

Earlier it was believed that the battle was a very decisive event to unify the country. But later evidence have shown that the battle only represented the last convulsions from the enemies of Harald. Before the battle, King Harald controlled large parts of the south-east of Norway, and with the battle of Hafrsfjord it marks the fact that he has destroyed the opposition from the eastern part of Norway. This makes it possible for him to control a large part of the country, and hence being the truly first legitimate King of Norway.


In 1983 a monument by artist Fritz Røed was raised in Møllebukta in Hafrsfjord (see picture above). The monument is called "Sverd i Fjell" (Swords in Mountain) and represents the Battle of Hafrsfjord. The crowns on the top of the swords represent the three districts that participated in the battle.

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