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Kommuner (Norway)

Last modified: 2015-10-27 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: norway | heraldry: civic |
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Arms of Norwegian kommuner

Norwegian municipal coats of arms are very interesting in the point that they very strictly obey heraldic rules, having usually just one tincture and one metal, they are very simple in design, easy for blazoning, and very strong in symbolism.
Željko Heimer, 17 November 1995

Actually, the situation is that many urban municipalities are without an approved flag. The reason is that they adopted arms before the current system of approval of (identical) arms and flags came into being. Some, like the capital Oslo and Drammen, have flags different from the arms - but unapproved. Others do not have flags at all, and some just put the arms (mostly terribly complicated and unheraldic) on a white field. On the other hand, most rural municipalities now have had their arms and flags approved. I guess the situation is the other way around in most countries.

Municipal arms and flags in Norway are approved by Royal resolution, in which both the arms and flag are defined. However, the proportions of the flag are not set - this and this seems to be a source of some confusion. The drawings submitted with the application for approval is a guide, but are not always followed when flags are made.
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 November 1995

An exhibition about civic heraldry - Art with Royal Resolution: Municipal Arms in the National Archives - is currently on display at the National Archives in Oslo. The catalogue for the exhibition has been made available on the Internet at this address:

About 40 arms are displayed and explained. The text is in Norwegian. Norwegian municipal flags are banners of the arms. Two examples of original artwork are shown in the exhibition:

Stavanger, approved by Royal Resolution of 11 August 1939 and Åsgårdstrand:

The arms and flag was adopted by the municipality in 1950 but never submitted for Royal approval. Later Aring;sgårdstrand was merged with the neighbouring municipality, so these arms are not in use today.
Jan Oskar Engene, 18 January 1999


The arms of the Norwegian kommuner can be found in the following book:

Hj Emmets bokverlag, 1992

There are unfortunately no arms of counties and no explanations, but the pictures at the ends of this book are in colours.
Pascal Vagnat, 17 November 1995

The flags of Norwegian counties (fylkeskommuner and kommuner) are mainly based on their arms. I suppose just the oldest towns which have complicated arms use different flags (as in the case of Oslo). There is a very good book on Norwegian communal coats of arms (unfortunately in Norwegian):

Norske Kommune Våpen,
Oslo 1987,
Kommunalforlaget AS.

There is also an addenda to this book from 1988, and maybe there are later issues also.
Željko Heimer, 17 November 1995

You are right that this is an excellent book. Unfortunately it has been out of print for some years, and I was told by the publisher that they will not put out a new edition. This is a pity because, since the book was published about 100 (I think) more municipalities have had their arms and flags approved. The only publication covering them all is:

Flagg og våpen: flagg fra alle verdens stater, våpen fra alle norske kommuner og fylker,
Geir Steigan,
Oslo, Cappelen, 1995,
93 pages, hardbound

This book is a combination of flags of the world and municipal arms of Norway. There are pictures only, very little text.
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 November 1995

Other Resources

Heraldic (flags) of 434 Norwegian kommuner (Gemeinden) is to be found here :
Celvin Ruisdael, 25 October 2002

This is a link to a site presenting heraldry of the 434 Norwegian municipalities.

The mentioned link is at this site.

It is sorted two ways; alfabetisk = in alphabetical order or by kommunenummer = in the official order of the municipalities (municipality number)
Celvin Ruisdael, 20 February 2003