Røros Mining Town and the Circumference is linked to the copper mines, established in the 17th century and exploited for 333 years until 1977. The site comprises the Town and its industrial-rural cultural landscapes; Femundshytta, a smelter with its associated area; and the Winter Transport Route. Completely rebuilt after its destruction by Swedish troops in 1679, Røros contains about 2000 wooden one- and two-storey houses and a smelting house. Many of these buildings have preserved their blackened wooden façades, giving the town a medieval appearance. Surrounded by a buffer zone, coincident with the area of privileges (the Circumference) granted to the mining enterprise by the Danish-Norwegian Crown (1646), the property illustrates the establishment and flourishing of a lasting culture based on copper mining in a remote region with a harsh climate.
© Nomination File/Havran, Jiri
Outstanding Universal Value
Røros Mining Town and the Circumference consist of three sites within the Circumference, i.e. the area of privileges awarded by the Danish-Norwegian King to Røros Copper Works in 1646.
The town and the cultural landscapes cover a large continuous area which includes the landscape surrounding the mining town, the urban agricultural areas, and the most important mining landscapes where agricultural practices and copper work operations were carried out.
Femundshytta is a largely relict landscape which includes the industrial cultural landscape with the remains of a smelter, water management systems, and the community that grew up around them. The Winter Transport Route is made up of a sequence of lakes, rivers, and creeks in an almost untouched landscape. It was used from November to May.
Røros Mining Town, established in 1646, is unique. It is built entirely of wood, and interlinked with a cultural landscape that shows in an outstanding and almost complete manner how mining operations, transportation, and the way of life had to be adapted to the requirements of the natural environment – the mountain plains, the cold climate, the remote location without roads and with marginal growth conditions for forests and agriculture. On this basis a unique culture developed that has partly disappeared, but an outstanding testimony of the existence of which has been preserved.
Criterion (iii): From the time copper ore was found in the mountains at Røros in 1644 until the copper works went bankrupt in 1977, with German mining technology as a starting point, employing German, Danish, Swedish immigrants, and Norwegian nationals,, a unique culture developed to extract the valuable copper in a remote and sparsely inhabited area. Today there is no mining in the area, but Røros Mining Town and the traces of mining, smelters, transport, and water management systems bear unique witness to the adaptation of technology to the requirements of the natural environment and the remoteness of the situation.
Criterion (iv): Røros townscape and its related industrial and rural landscapes, with their interlinked industrial activity and domestic and agricultural accommodation within an urban environment, illustrate in an outstanding manner how people adapted to the extreme circumstances in which they had to live and how they used the available indigenous resources to provide shelter, produce food for their sustenance, and contribute to the national wealth of the country. Technologically, their buildings and installations evolved through the use of available indigenous materials to functionally satisfy the combined approach of mining and agrarian practices whilst at the same time accommodating the consequences of dealing with extreme climatic conditions.
Criterion (v): Røros Mining Town and the Circumference constitute a totality that is an outstanding example of traditional settlement and land-use. The various activities that have been carried out in the area constitute a coherent and interdependent unit. These activities have shaped a cultural landscape that provides a unique picture of how the mines and the mining town functioned as a complex and at times vulnerable system that verged on the limits of what was possible in an inhospitable environment with a harsh climate.
Integrity and authenticity
The nominated property contains all elements that convey the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and its most relevant features present a high or good level of integrity. The mining landscape is relict in nature, but almost no transformations or encroachment occurred after the closure of the copper works.
The authenticity of the property is expressed in almost all its aspects and features. All the remains bear credible witness to the history and development of the site. This is also reinforced by the rich archive documenting the copper company’s history.
Protection and management requirements
The most important legislative instruments that help to protect and manage Røros Mining Town and the Circumference are the Cultural Heritage Act (1978) and the Planning and Building Act (1985).
The management framework for Røros Mining Town and the Circumference is embodied in a Statement of Intent which has been signed by all responsible bodies for the nominated property.
The basis for management relies on the existing Norwegian legal framework, the planning instruments in force, the administrative and private bodies responsible for the property and sources of funding for heritage conservation, agricultural activities in heritage areas, productive and marketing activities based on cultural and natural heritage, and sustainable tourism. The management framework contains an action programme including short- and long-term actions.
Røros is a characteristic example of this type of technological and industrial development, as well as being an outstanding survivor of a traditional kind of human settlement built by traditional methods of construction. Also, it has vulnerable under the impact of economic change since the cessation of copper mining after 333 years of continuous activity. Lastly, Røros embodies a strong degree of rarity because of its location. It was built as an industrial community in the mountains (650 m above sea level) at a very northern latitude subject to extremely long winters and low temperatures (-50 °C).
Within the framework of Norway's inventory of cultural property, Røros ranks in importance with Bryggen and the stave church at Urnes. Røros is an extensive mining settlement dating from 1644, when the development of the copper works began. Its physical history has continued without interruption since the town was burned in 1679.
Thus the numerous surviving buildings represent the Norwegian tradition of construction that flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries. The buildings reflect the dual occupations of the inhabitants - mining and farming - the domestic groups being arranged as compact farmyards. These groups are disposed on a regular urban pattern adapted to the mountain terrain, reflecting the particular kind of industrial planning introduced by the Danish kings of Norway in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Røros is in a remarkably complete state of preservation. An engraving of the town as seen from the slag heaps in the 1860s is virtually the same as a photograph of the 1970s taken from the same viewpoint.
Preservation efforts date from the early years of the 20th century. The first legal protection of buildings in Røros was effected in 1923. Legal protection now extends to 80 buildings. In 1936 land was purchased for the development of an open-air museum, and the first old building was moved to the site in 1947. However, the museum impetus was overtaken by a movement, dating from 1938, that led to the preparation of plans for the preservation of the town and copper works in situ . Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
When the copper ore was discovered and the first mining activity began there were scattered farms in the region and the areas near Røros were used for summer grazing, haymaking, hunting, and fishing. Sami people lived there and in the 17th century, with the start of copper mining, they changed from hunting and fishing to nomadic reindeer husbandry.
Mining activity was encouraged by the Danish- Norwegian king Christian IV who needed the income and the metal to enable him to wage his wars of expansion. Silver works were established in Kongsberg (1623), while copper mining began in Kvikne (1630), Røros (1644), Løkken (1654), Selbu (1717), and Folldal (1748).
The first mine where copper ore was found proved not to be commercially exploitable but mining activities started at Storwartz.
In 1646 the king established an area of privileges to be granted to the mining company. Inside the Circumference Røros Copper Works had the monopoly for exploiting the natural resources, and the farmers living there were obliged to work for the company, in return for some form of payment. Farming activities were encouraged and the working timetable of the copper works included one day per week and one month per year free to allow employees to carry out farming work.
The company was organised as a ‘partnership': the copper was distributed among the owners according to the size of their share and they had to make independent arrangements for selling their metal. Operating capital had to be advanced every year, and the company was obliged to provide food supplies and educational and health services to the mining town and its related communities.
The golden age of Røros mining town was between the 1740s and 1814, the date of the end of the privileges when Norway secured its independence.
The operation of copper works remained profitable until the 1860s, when the price of copper fell and operating costs increased. Major technological advances in mining operations were introduced in this period: the construction of the railway (1877), the use of the adapted Bessemer iron-refining process (1887), and the introduction of electricity (1897). All this ensured a further period of prosperity that declined after World War I until the company's bankruptcy in 1977.
Until the 1880s the technology of mining and smelting underwent only occasional and gradual changes and was carried out thanks to animal and water power. To obtain the intermediate product known as copper matte a five-step roasting and smelting process was developed to separate sulphur and iron from copper, which required several days to produce the copper. The introduction of the Bessemer process drastically reduced the
Source: Advisory Body Evaluation