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Norwegian Property Marks Identified

Earlier this week, I wrote of mysterious symbols we found in a 1771 Norwegian marriage record from Hordaland. I vowed to find out more about them. I soon learned that they are known as Bumerker.

Norwegians used these family symbols to identify and mark their property. Those who could not read and write also used them to sign documents. The markings may have been derived from runic alphabets or pagan symbols, but by 1771 they had no such meaning. Instead, they were more like the cattle brands used in the American West.

How did I get my answer so quickly? I felt that someone in the genealogical community must know about these symbols, so I just put my question “out there” via my blog, Twitter, and the Hordaland message board on Ancestry. By the next morning, I received responses to my question. One pointed me to a good article about Bumerker on the Norway Heritage website (

In the end, nothing mysterious was going on here. Instead, I learned something new and took another step in my ongoing genealogical education. Thanks to everyone who helped me along.


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