In 1836, Samuel Laing (1780–1868) published his Journal of a Residence in Norway, an enquiry into Norway's moral and political economy. It is best known for idealizing Norwegian independent small-farm proprietors and their udal law of succession without primogeniture. During 16 months at Levanger and Verdal in Central Norway, his main concern was “the social condition and state of the Norwegian people”. However, like other contemporary European travellers, he included topographical-geographical observations on natural and cultural history. The present paper examines topics that have received less attention than his preoccupation with legal and constitutional issues. His Journal is examined in the light of contemporary and later ideas, using his observations on natural phenomena, Saami reindeer-herders, and historical monuments as illustrations.
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Vol. 2013 • No. sp4