Gamme from Amund Johnsen

Madsen Design

A gamme is an ancient earthen hut that has wooden structures and is covered with earth and peat. Along Rv7 on the Hardangervidda you will find an old one from Amund Johnsen which has now been given new life as a sales place for souvenirs and typically Norwegian products.

Feel free to stop here for a good break with both fantastic views of the Hardangervidda and the opportunity to buy souvenirs and other typical Norwegian products.
Construction method
Gamme is often associated with Sami, but this type of housing has been used all over the country, ever since the first people came to Norway. The way of building is the same as the Sami tent lavvo and is often oblong. The roof consists of twigs that were covered with 4 to 5 layers of bark, on top of this a thick layer of peat. On top of all this, there were two layers of different varieties of moss that did not retain moisture, but dried quickly and provided thermal insulation.

Usually an old gamme had only one room, but it could also be divided into several rooms. The fireplace for heating and cooking is located in the middle of the gamme right on the floor. On the floor was a thick layer of short-cut birch twigs, which kept soil moisture and odors away. Sitting and lying places along the side were covered with reindeer skin.

Amund Johnsen
Sami Amund Johnsen was from Hamarøy in Nordland (born 13.01.1907 - died 23.05.1970). Here he worket with reindeer herding, among other things, with his family. He married Ella and had in total 6 daughters.

When the second world war started, Amund and his family were helpen those who crossed the border into Sweden for both work and freedom. Unfortunately, a picture was printed in a Swedish newspaper, of Amund who helped the refugees. He was quickly overtaken by the Germans, taken prisoner and eventually sent to Grini in July 1943, where he received prisoner number 12202. Here he met fellow prisoner Sigurd Fossgård, who was to prove important for the future of Amund.

Amund was sentenced to life in prison in Germany. Without knowing what he was convicted of, he was sent to Sachenhausen concentration camp on September 30, 1943, where he remained until peace came. He was given prisoner number 72120. Hunger, abuse, torture, and disease were about to take the life of Amund in Sachenhausen, and without his physical strength from the job of reindeer husbandry, it might have gone differently.
When the White Buses from the Swedish Red Cross came and picked up the surviving prisoners after the Germans had capitulated, Amund was only skin and bones, debilitated and dressed in rags, but alive.
He was taken to Sweden, where he regained his strength before returning to Ella and the girls.

He had a small herd of reindeer left from before the war, but due to bad times after the war, he had to sell the herd and move south. He took his family with him and moved to Skurdalen on the Hardangervidda, where Sigurd Fossgård offered him a job as a reindeer herder in the Dagali reindeer herd. When the domestic reindeer herd sold all its reindeer in 1956, Amund and Sigurd bought their own reindeer herd which they had on summer pasture on the Hardangervidda, and winter pasture in Jotunheimen. They drove reindeer for several years together, until Amund was badly injured one winter, and was no longer able to work with reindeer herding.

The injury caused him to focus on tourism instead. He built several gamme barns on the Hardangervidda, and sold Sami products and souvenirs in the summer. In collaboration with the tourist manager and hotel in Geilo, Amund picked up tourists with reindeer and sledges, drove them to the Ustedalsfjord for sightseeing, boiled and served coffee in one of the vultures, and managed to support his family with it. One of the daughters, Ingrid, took over the company of the Sami Gamme in the late 60s, and continued selling Sami products and souvenirs to tourists until 2017, when she sold the operation on.

Madsen Design has restored the gamme and brought the company into the 21st century, in honor of Amund Johansen.
(text about Amund Johnsen is from Madsen Design)

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Address: Hardangervidda, Haugastøl