Norwegian Americans: Cemeteries

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Worth knowing about Norwegian cemeteries and churchyards

There is no law stating you have to have a tombstone on your graves.  There are two alternatives: anonymous graves and family plots.  Spreading of ashes is also an option.

There is no obligation to plant flowers or plants on the graves, but the leaseholder of the plot has a responsibility to see that the grave is kept in order.  The stone must be sucurely fastened with no danger of falling down.  The timeperiod for a leasehold is 4-20; determined by the individual cities/municipalities. The fee is also determined by the individual  communities.  After 20 years the grave can be levelled, and in some communities you are not allowed a leasehold longer than 20 years. After a grave has been levelled the stone must be moved within 6 months.  The stones can be taken home or the church can buy them and reuse them.  When a grave is over 100 years they are considered being an antique.  Today the government are taking stronger parts in guarding the older cemeteries; Ramnes and Tønsberg are two excamples of just that. 

Helpful books (in Norwegian):

Kirkegaarden - et levende kulturminne 2005.  Helge Klingberg, Oddbjørn Sørmoen,  Aud Wefald.  ARFO 2005

Den nye kirkegårdsboka. Helge Klingberg.  Ars Longa 2005

Norwegian American Mortuary Art in Vernon County, WI