A connection with the past / Entertainment / The Foreigner

A connection with the past. Træe: A place to tread for man and beast, a path, or a fenced-in piece of land. You probably wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t know it was there; the small wooden house called “Træe”, perched on top of the hill. Perhaps a glimpse out of the corner of your eye, or in the rear-view mirror, as you speed by on the RV44. But no more than that. Yet the modest grey buildings with their round stone bases and clay roof slabs have a story to tell. A story that started in approximately 1780 and that has still not reached its conclusion. Take a while to breathe in your surroundings. Pause, for a moment, from your busy lives, to consider your ancestral origins. Can you hear the history?Appearances can be deceptive From the entrance gate, its grey exterior doesn’t seem like much to look at. Walk closer. It will take you a smaller number of steps than when it was first built, as the house was originally 30 yards to the east, nearer to the road. Does it still look run down? Examine the rivets made in the wooden panels by the blade of a saw; they are meant to be there.

jaerhus, traee, husmann, peasant, farmer, time, council, past, restored, per, line, architect, sigbjoern, reime



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A connection with the past

Published on Thursday, 16th July, 2009 at 23:04 under the entertainment category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 19th July 2009 at 16:03.

Træe: A place to tread for man and beast, a path, or a fenced-in piece of land.

The house
The house
Photo: Michael Sandelson


You probably wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t know it was there; the small wooden house called “Træe”, perched on top of the hill. Perhaps a glimpse out of the corner of your eye, or in the rear-view mirror, as you speed by on the RV44. But no more than that. Yet the modest grey buildings with their round stone bases and clay roof slabs have a story to tell. A story that started in approximately 1780 and that has still not reached its conclusion. Take a while to breathe in your surroundings. Pause, for a moment, from your busy lives, to consider your ancestral origins. Can you hear the history?

Appearances can be deceptive

From the entrance gate, its grey exterior doesn’t seem like much to look at. Walk closer. It will take you a smaller number of steps than when it was first built, as the house was originally 30 yards to the east, nearer to the road. Does it still look run down? Examine the rivets made in the wooden panels by the blade of a saw; they are meant to be there.

You will also notice that the entire house is not very tall, with a northwest/southeast facing roof that is drawn down to such a degree, that it almost eclipses the panelling as it meets the surrounding base of stones on three and a half sides. All of this is as coincidental as the attached turf-shed on the house’s north side.

Surviving the local climate

The north side is known locally as the short end (kortenden), and its wall is made entirely out of stones. This is not because the wood was expensive in those days because of its scarcity, even though its quality was poor. It is a tradition that the cold northerly wind should always meet the short end of the house. The stones are there to save the house from the wind; the turf-shed to warm it up in the winter, – turf being the main source of heating fuel for generations on Jæren – and cool it down in the summer when empty.

“Both the construction and location have been picked with care on a windswept Jæren. The direction of the roof ridge is a clear indication of this. The main building materials that were available at that time were rough stone, turf and straw,” says Sigbjørn Reime, expert, and senior executive officer for culture in Time council.

It is a typical example of a “jærhus”; a local type of house.

Stepping inside reveals that you should mind your head on the low beams as you enter the living room on the right. From the ceiling height, you might think that people in those days were short. Perhaps they were. The main reason was to save money; turf being expensive. Thus, the volume needed for building was kept low, and low ceilings mean less money used on fuel for heating. A glance around the room reveals an iron heating stove.

On the left is the kitchen with an open hearth; practical both for cooking, and for providing heat to the sleeping quarters above. All of this contained in one modest-looking timber, stone house with clay roof slabs. Does this give any clues to what sort of people lived and survived in this low abode on a barren, treeless, and windswept Jæren?

The husmann system

This came to Jæren in the 1600s. Husmann has no direct translation but the houses – called “husmannsplasser” – were built for the husmann and his family, normally on the poorest quality soil on the farm it belonged to. Reime points out that ironically, the soil was of better quality where the house was originally placed before it was moved.

“A husmann, in principle, was a farm worker. He was a peasant who rented the house and the land around it from the farm’s owner in return for work carried out on the farm, or for an annual sum of money. Some...had land, cows, sheep and some hens, but there were some who had no land,” explains Reime.

He goes on to say that the system on Jæren was different than in other parts of the country, though, because those who lived in the houses were often the farmer’s children, not farm workers.

“They lived in these houses because perhaps there was not enough space for them and their families at home.”

From peasant home to pleasant home

Træe belonged to Line farm until at least 1863, with five acres of land. Although the house is relatively small in relation to some of the others around the country, it had many people living in it in the 1800s. One farm worker lived there with his wife and seven children.

The house was also rented out to people who had no connection with the farm, including a journalist, and a watchmaker. It was given to Time council in 1951 by one of the journalist’s grandsons, on the condition that they undertook to maintain it. At this point, the house was painted red.

In 1997, Træe was totally dismantled and restored with new wood in keeping with plans drawn up by the architect Per Line, and reopened as a museum Midsummer’s Day the following year. This is something that Reime is particularly proud of.

“It’s actually one of the houses on Jæren that has retained its original form and been preserved the best,” he says cheerfully.

Not bad for a small, grey, unassuming wooden house from the past overlooking a busy road.




Published on Thursday, 16th July, 2009 at 23:04 under the entertainment category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 19th July 2009 at 16:03.

This post has the following tags: jaerhus, traee, husmann, peasant, farmer, time, council, past, restored, per, line, architect, sigbjoern, reime.





  
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