Most of WOC 2019 will take place around Mørk in Spydeberg. Let us present a map from 1775 over the terrain – where dangerous elk once threatened people in the woods.
Less than fifteen minutes’ drive from the municipal centre of Spydeberg and around twice as far from Moss; WOC’s main venue at Mørk is situated at the crossroads between inner and outer Østfold.
The South Western part of Spydeberg Municipality is richly forested. The highest hills between Glomma River and the Oslo Fiord stand within the embargoed WOC area. No surprise then, that the old Norse name “mork” (Mørk) means “forest, field”.
Golfing in the nature
A fertile light in the dark has been the fields around the Mørk farms. Large parts of the arable land is now converted into a golf course which opened in 1990. Today, the offering consists of both a 18-hole park-and-forest course composed by owner Peder Mørk as well as shorter courses.
This is where the WOC arena will be located when athletes and spectators from around the world 12-17 August convene in this rather out-of-the-way part of Østfold County.
Rich on timber
In a book published in 1779 describing Spydeberg parish’s physical, economical and statistical features, the famous parson Jacob Nikolai Wilse wrote: Most of the fir forest, with some pine in between, is in the south of the parish towards Vaaler where the Morck (Mørk) forest still yields much timber.
As early as before the Black Death (1350) there were probably at least three farms in the Mørk area. Close to one of the holes on the present-day golf course there is an old sawmill dating back almost 450 years - and still standing. The Mørk River runs into Vansjø – Østfold’s largest lake – and this waterway was used for timber floating for hundreds of years. The wealth provided by the timber led to the farm North Mørk having the closest Spydeberg ever came to nobility in the 17thand 18thcentury.
PHOTO: North Mørk farm seen from the air in 1955. The WOC arena will be located in this area. Photo: Widerøe’s Flyveselskap A/S / Østfold fylkes billedarkiv.
Chased by elk
In 1654 farmer Nils Mørk shot an elk in the woods which today is part of the WOC terrain. The incident ended in court and there Nils testified that the elk came running straight towards him and his shotgun, and the shot just went off. The bailiff ruled that Nils, on behalf of His Majesty, could keep the elk hide if he paid market price for it. If Nils were to sell the hide, the King should have first refusal.
In other words, beware of elks! Or maybe you will stumble upon an old charcoal pile from the days when the woods here provided charcoal for the iron works in Moss. They had exclusive rights to cast iron cannons for the Danish-Norwegian navy and army.
In war and peace
While searching for control markings during one of the WOC 2019 spectator races it is worth reflecting over the fact that the Norwegian resistance has been here before you. During World War II the large forests in southern Spydeberg were used for allied air drops.
PHOTO: Mørk got it’s own school in the 1860s when more than 100 people lived in the area. This photo was taken in the 1920s. Photo: Hans Ganes / Østfold fylkes billedarkiv.
Meanwhile, the large main building on South Mørk farm has served several different purposes: a pauper’s home, home for the elderly, rehab facility for drug addicts, and in later years as a reception centre for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Norway.
In summary, many kinds of people have been through the crossroads at Mørk over the centuries. And soon the orienteers will arrive!
Main source: Spydeberg bygdebok (local history), volume 3/1 and 3/2