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The Labour Force

In the book, ‘Historisk Beretning om Røros Kobberværk’ (Historical account of The Røros Copper Works) Peder Hiort wrote with regard to the availability of labour:

Kirsti Jordet

"As the works, as previously informed, was placed up on the mountain slopes and the surrounding country did not have enough people to supply the necessary workers one was obliged to employ people from all parts." Hiort suggested that in the earliest days, nasty and bad people, who had run away without testimonials or identification. Because the need was so great, even these people obtained work in Røros.

But the majority of people who turned up for work came from the neighbouring communities in Trondelag, Ostedalen, Hedemarken, Gudbrandsdalen, Romsdal, Sogn and Fjordane, Jamtland, Harjedalen and Germany (mining specialists). In the Røros society of today there are a number of family names which tell us where the immigrants came from, for example: Selboe, Toenset, Doel and Jamt. Seresse informs us that in July 1682 there were 373 people employed at the copper works in Røros (miners, smelting house workers and executives). The total number of people living in the mining town around 1700 was approximately 180 people. The ‘Jubilation’ Sermon delivered at the centenary celebrations in 1744 by Parish Priest Abilgaard explained that in 1644 only a handful of families lived in Røros, but 100 years later more than 2,000 people were in the congregation.

It was not just in the town itself that the population increased. Because the copper works had enormous requirements for timber, charcoal, calcinating fuel, materials, building-timber and, in addition a need for loaders and drivers, many small communities sprung up, also around the smelting houses and in the districts where there was plenty of timber available. This resulted in the formation of new hamlets in the Røros district. In Nord Oesterdal new settlements were establiHouse in Tolga and Os near Femund. Even in the older establiHouse villages the population increased. There were considerably more small farmers working for the Copper Works than there were usually twice as many as in the mines and the smelting houses.

Brun Nissen writes that at the turn of the century in 1700 there were about 750 forest workers and wagoners, while there were 306 people employed in Røros itself. In addition were the people who worked in the mines and smelting houses in the surrounding district. The numbers increased through the 1700s. To obtain sufficient labour immigration to Røros was necessary and, in addition, people from large areas surrounding the copper activity worked at the mine. It should also be remembered that during the 1600s there was a marked increase in the overall population throughout the country.


Peder Hiort: ”Historisk Beretning om Røraas Kobberværk….inntil Aar 1679”
Volker Seresse: ”Tysk bergverkstradisjon ved Røros kobberverk 1671-1685” (1992)
Olav Volden: ”Os i Østerdalen” Hovedoppgave 1976
Rørosboka, bind 2 (1942)
Økomuseet i Bergslagen (personlig meddelt)
Brun Nissen: ”Røros kobberverk 1644-1974” (1976)
”Norsk økonomisk historie 1500-1970”, bind 1
”Norsk bondeøkonomi 1650-1850” (1996)

Museum24:Portal - 2024.06.11
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