Usually when my research uncovers some new bit of information I feel a thrill, sometimes an elation. Sometimes simply a pleasant surprise. Recently I made a discovery and the resulting feeling was none of the above. It was just, well...disappointing. I mean, how would you feel if you learned that your ancestral village—the village you were planning to visit this summer on your pilgrimage to Norway—if you learned that that village's name (Ål) meant “ditch”?
Well, to be totally accurate, the site offering this information says, "The name is identical with the word áll which means 'ditch' or 'gully'." While 'gully' is marginally better--it doesn't carry quite the whiff of unpleasantness--it's the word 'ditch' that jumps off the screen and stays with me.
Oh well, the pictures of Ål look lovely. After all, the town lies in the Hallingdal Valley—which I suppose could itself be considered a really, really BIG ditch.
The local town centre 1895, © Ål Bygdearkiv