Archaeological finds have shown that humans have lived within the area of the present town for about 9000 years, but it was through the royal sagas of Snorri that the place name of Ålesund first emerged from the half light of history.
Places in Ålesund such as Steinvågen, Hundsvær, Nørve, Borgund and Vegsund provide the framework for dramatic happenings during Olav II (the Holy) Haraldsson’s flight before the Earl of Lade’s men in 1028. Borgund and Skuggen appear here in a rather unflattering light. The King had sent a messenger to Borgund and Skuggen to rally the people. They responded by killing the messenger...
The medieval market town of Borgund was, in the national context, the first ‘town’ in Sunnmøre in the middle of the 1100s. ‘Market Town Borgund’ flourished and the Giske clan on Giske, who were close to the throne, kept an eye on the place. In the 1100s Borgund was also the largest religious centre between Bergen and Nidaros there were all of four marble clad stone churches here.
The Black Death and the Hanseatic League have been blamed for the market town losing its position as an economic centre in the 1400s and Bergen gained control over Sunnmøre’s trade.
The Borgund market town from the Viking era has provided countless finds during excavations and today the site is a part of the exhibitions making up the Sunnmøre Museum in the area known as Borgundgavlen. The Museum is about 10 minutes by car east of the centre of town.