The King´s burial mound under Tøftstolhøvdae
There are many out there writing about our famous myths, but few interpret less known tales and folklore. This myth/lore (Kongshaugen under Tøftstolhøvdae) is a very local one you most likely have never heard of, with ancient roots, from Valdres - more precisely from Nord Etnedal. Since my ancestral lines spring out of this area of Norway (at least a thousand + years back) I have access to such stories, both in the original oral tradition, and written down in old booklets by familiy members and local historians.
As we will see, the re-incarnation aspect in this tale is as present as it is in all other more or less known Norse myths, ballads and fairytales.
First, the English translation of the tale. Then, we will conclude with a short dissection. At the end you will find the local Norwegian text in dialect, written down in 1934.
The story tells that there were Kings in Valdres in ancient times. And ancient tales, that have been passed on in oral tradition until the present time say so. Here is one that contain true history. Something has happened once upon a time, but then it went unclear through the ages.
It went on like this; that the King in Dalo (east of the valley) came over the mountains in the east and waged war with the King of Valdres. He kept his journey as secret as could be; but still the King of Valdres got notice what expected him. He gathered his army and went to meet the Døla King.
When the King of Valdres arrived in Dalo, he was told that the other was in the land of Goar, so he went to the forest below Tøfstølhøvdaet and waited. A little later the Døla King came with his army riding. Then the King of Valdres and his army charged at them with shots and stones, strikes and blows - and the battle became fierce below the mountain. Many fell, but most Dølar; because the Valdres tribe knew the woodlands. The Døla King fought fiercly, and many from Valdres fell for his strikes; but in the end he was killed himself, and the rest of his standing army fled to the forest.
The Valdres Victors tossed a mound over the fallen from the battle, and the Døla King himself they placed in the mound in full battle dress - and inside the mound they placed a big beautiful treasure trunk with huge liftling handles. This trunk the Døla King had brought from the east. It is said that it was the last King of Valdres that fought this battle.
Long after in time, there is a man in Hagaset that tries to find this treasure trunk, that would to be found in the old King´s burial mound. A sorceress tells him to keep quiet if he would dig to find it. It had to be on the Solstice night, after the sun turned. He does what he is told, while he stands there digging, a man comes riding on a sledge, on his toes, so the skies sparkle of fire. But, the man digging did not even have the time to see him, and the man turned away from his sight.
Not long after, an old lady came in a small chariot. It did not go that fast, but whilst riding she mumbles for herself all the time: "When do I think he went? When do I think he went?" "You look like her!" he says, he who digs, and now there is no use in digging any longer.
But, at the next Solstice he went to dig again, and this time he promised to keep his mouth shut. This time he only had to dig. But, there stands a marksman aiming at him. He lets him aim. The man keeps digging. Suddenly the marksman is vanished. When he is gone, a loud noice rumbles from above Høvdaet (the mountain) - so the earth trembles, and a fierce Troll-Bull that charges, strikes and loosens big rocks rolling down with soil. It looks as if it all will hit him, but it all passes by him. And the man continiues his work.
Then the Beast comes charging, as it would spear the man in his guts with its horns, but he wrestles it, holding the horns, fighting it - for his dim life. Then, when he looks after; it is the handles of the King´s treasure trunk he is holding...
That was the tale, with all its symbolism. On Tøfstølshøvde (the real place in Valdres) there is a burial mound. Luckily it is not opened in recent times. It should thus contain the remains of the old honorable King.
But, what is all this symbolism in this very ancient and still intact and living story?
The two Kings
Yes, there are always two Kings, and one replace the other. Like our May Kings, like our ancient leaders through competitions, like mother Natures seasons, like life and death, like night and day, like the Solstice and the year, like the Sunrise and the Sunset, like the fetus and the placenta etc.
The "hero" and the digging man
We obvioulsy have a "hero". We have an ancestor. As in all of our myths and fairytales, there are three cycles. In this tale it may seem that we are stuck in the second cycle, but if you read carefully, you will notice that the digging man gets the treasure trunk after a fight and a struggle, and there are thus exactly three phases. The "hero" is the old King, and the digging man is the"child" digging up his old items, the items that help him remember his true self, from the past.
As always, we have the guardian of the ancestral spirit, guiding, giving advise and giving the riddles. The guardian of the burial mound itself. The womb. He must be quiet, she says. Who would speak a single word in such a state, inside the womb?
The sledge rider and the marksman
Yes, they are the ancestor. The herder. The huntsman. The one that hunts and marks the chosen one. They have all the attributes as such, sparkling fire (fire, blood, ancestral memory), sliding forward like the eight legged horse and spirit vessel Sleipnír, as the hunter, herder and wanderer - Óðinn, your accumulated ancestors in you, ready to be re-born.
The old mumbling lady
She is at once recognized by the digging man. He has seen her before. She would carry the attribute of the egg, mumbling on where he went. We also recognize her as the typical "God Mother"(Norwegian Gumor/Gudmor).
We recognize again the classical bull fight we find all over ancient European myths. This bull is a beast (Troll), and it digs up "the stones and soil". It is the Ogre, and the ancestral power (actually feeding on the mother inside the womb, stemming from the father, the old King), wich the new one must overcome to slay and replace. To get re-born. It is, by all means, the ancestral twin of the fetus. The fight is kicked off by a high rumbling sound and shakes under the mountain. These are all metaphores for the child fighting for it's "dim" life (in darkness) on it's way to decend into light, before slaying the beast.
The treasure trunk
These trunks contain eternal metals. Like gold and silver. Material that lives forever, and reflects the light of the Sun. They are all symbols of the ancestral blood memory. There is no coincidence that the old King brought this trunk over the mountains in the East - where the sun, Sól, the new beginning rises! There is no coincidence that the victors placed it in the burial mound, to be guarded by a sorceress inviting for the struggle to remember and to gain the ancestral power and blood memory.
The decendant from Hagaset now holds the gold. Heill the new King!
The Norwegian text in local dialect from 1934:
Soga seier at det var kongar i Valdres og i gamal tid. Og gamle segner, som har levt på folkemunnen til no, seier det same. Her er ei, som venteleg inneheld ei historisk beingrind. Noko har hendt eingong, men so er det vorte uklårt gjennom tidene.
Det bar so til at kongen i Dalo kom over autsfjellet, og vilde føre ufred med Valdreskongen. Han heldt ferda so løynd som råd var; men likevel fekk Valdreskongen vita kva som venta honom. Han samla ein hærstyrke og for til å møtes med Døla Kongen. Då Valdreskongen kom til Dalo, fekk han vita at den andre var Goartraktene, og so la han seg til i granskogen under Tøfstølhøvdaet og venta.
Litt seinare kjem Dølakongen og heren hans ridande, etter sladen der. Då går valdrisane på han med skot og steinkast, hogg og slag, og striden kvesser seg til under bergkollen. Mange fell, men mest døler; for valdrisane har skogen til livd. Dølekongen høgg djervt frå seg, og mang ein valdris dett for hogga hans; men enden vert at han sjølv vert drepen. og dei dølane som enno står på føtene sine, rømer til skogs.
Valdrisane kastar haug over dei som fell i striden, og Dølakongen sjølv vert hauglagt i full herbunad, og inn i haugen til han set dei eit drusteleg skrin med svære hankar på. Dette skrinet hadde han drege med seg austantil. Det skulde vore den siste kongen i Valdres som førde denne ufreden.
Mykje seinare i tida, er det ein mann i Hagaset som etlar seg til å finne dette skrinet, som skulde vera i kongshaugen. Ei trollkunnig kjerring seier so til han at han må kje seia eit halvdrege ord med han grev etter det. Jonsokaftan lyt det vera, etter solarglad.
Han gjer som ho seier. Med han står der og grev i si einvyrdslegheit, kjem det ein mann køyrande i akarslede, på tådn, so eldspruten står etter meiane; men han som grev, læst kje sjå han eingong, han, og mannen kverv burt for synet. Like etterpå kjem ei gamal kjerring køyrande i eit trog. Det går kje fullt så rade det; men ho karrar då frametter, og heile tida mular ho ved seg sjølv: "Tru e når att han so køyrde? Tru e når att han so køyrde?" - "Du ser ut som so, du!", seier han som grev, og no nyttar det kje grava lenger denne gongen.
Men næste Jonsokaftan dreg han av garde att, og no lovar han på det, at no vil han halde kjeften sin. No vil han berre grava.
Men, der står det ein skyttar og siktar so kaldsleg på han med børse? Han får sikte! Mannen grev. Då veit han kje ordret av før skyttaren er som han vore sokken i jorda. Men vel han er burte, tek det til å baule so illherveleg uppe i høvdaet so det døn i jorda, og han vert var ein diger troll-ukse, som stangar og grev ut or urda store steinar. Dei rullar nedetter so molda fyk, og det ser ut som dei skal rulle beint på han, men dei stryk framum og rullar vidare. Og mannen nåvar med sitt.
Då kjem udyret farande, og fer åt som det vil setja horna beinvegs i magen på han; men han får tak i dei og held på svarte livet - og då han ser til, er det i hankane på kongeskrinet han held.
So lyder segna um kongshaugen.