Denmark agrees to hand over medieval document to Bergen, Norway – but only on loan

BergenBergen, Norway. Photo: Daniel Tafjord / Unsplash

For several years, people from Bergen have fought to be given a medieval document containing the first known imprint of Bergen’s city seal. Now, the Danes are willing to lend it out.

“The document with Bergen’s city seal is one of the documents that the Arnamagnæan Commission in Copenhagen can now be lent for exhibition use at the National Library,” the Ministry of Culture informs NTB.

The imprint of the old city seal is from the year 1299. The motif on the stamp, which is printed in wax, is the forerunner of Bergen’s city coat of arms, and is therefore of great value to many Bergen residents.

For several hundred years, however, the document has been kept at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

But now, the University of Copenhagen said the document can be lent, in a letter sent to the Ministry of Culture.

Not satisfied

The letter stated that manuscripts are only exceptionally lent out for exhibitions lasting more than 3–5 months.

Norwegian national librarian Aslak Sira Myhre is not too happy with this answer.

“This is the usual way to lend things, for a period of 3-5 months. We have asked to borrow eight documents from a collection to be included in a permanent exhibition at the National Library. We have not received an answer to that,” he says to NTB.

The document with the city seal is part of the Arnamagnæan Collection in Copenhagen, a collection of Icelandic and Norwegian manuscripts from the Middle Ages.

Bergensers can get involved

For the National Library, anything other than a long-term loan of the document is not relevant.

“If there are people in Bergen who can imagine exhibiting this for a period, then I would recommend that they take the opportunity to contact the Arnamagnæan Collection directly. Now is the time for that,” he noted.

The national librarian also made it clear that if he ever gets the document for long-term lending, the plan is for the people of Bergen to get it “home.”

“Now we have to take a step back and start a process with the Arnamagnæan Collection and find out if long-term loans beyond 3-5 months are possible,” Myhre said.

Great commitment

Several Norwegian politicians have also become involved in the case surrounding the historical document. SV leader Audun Lysbakken has for many years fought to get it back to Bergen. Earlier this year, the then-Minister of Culture Abid Raja (V) also sent a letter to his Danish colleague about the case, which has now resulted in the latest response from Copenhagen.

Storting representative Helge André Njåstad (Frp) addressed the matter orally with the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during the Nordic Council’s session in Copenhagen.

Frederiksen failed to answer the question, which was also about the rare Saami drum that the Saami Parliament has asked Denmark to transfer ownership of.

“I must be honest to say that I do not have much expertise in assessing a Saami drum. I assume that there is a dialogue on that question,” said Frederiksen, without mentioning the city seal.

Source: ©️ NTB Scanpix / #NorwayTodayTravel

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