Sculptures of farmers and fishermen in Frederick V's Baroque gardens at Fredensborg Palace. Foto: Thomas Rahbek

The Valley of the Norsemen

Farmers and fishermen in stone

The Valley of the Norsemen is a special attraction in the palace gardens. It has 70 sculptures of Norwegian and Faroese farmers and fishermen. This was a daring commission by Frederick V, since commoners had never before been exhibited in a royal garden. It was usually only ancient gods and goddesses that were permitted to adorn regal gardens.

The creator of the collection was the Norwegian post driver Jørgen Christensen Garnaas. In his spare time, he would cut small wooden figures depicting the people he met on his mail route. One day he was given a prestigious order. His wooden figures had come into the hands of King Frederick V who now ordered a set of ivory and walrus tooth figures to model a series of life-size characters depicting ordinary people. Sculptures of Scandinavia's farmers and fishermen were to appear in Fredensborg Palace Gardens. 

Common people in the palace gardens

Between 1764 and 1784, 70 sandstone figures were sculpted one by one, and in 1784 they came to be displayed in what almost looked like an amphitheatre. Today, the sculptures give us an insight into how ordinary people dressed at the time and the tools they used to farm and fish with.