An old map of most of Hälsingland drawn up in 1774 by Augustin A. Lenaeus (1740-1802) based on a map from 1761.
The history of the Hälsingland stretches back thousands of years. During the Bronze Age, around 3,000 years ago, the ancestors of the hälsingers settled as farmers and began to cultivate the area. Agriculture reached the Hälsingland coast 2400 years ago.
From the Iron Age there are plenty of archaeological finds, for example rich Iron Age sites in Forsa parish where two ancient castles are recorded. There is a particularly rich geographical triangle of Iron Age finds between Söderhamn in Hälsingland, Mjälleborgen in Östersund, Jämtland and Gene outside Örnsköldsvik in Ångermanland. There are also plenty of Viking runic inscriptions in Hälsingland, most of them from the 11th century. The oldest preserved Nordic source of law has also been found in Hälsingland, Forsaringen, dated by most scholars to the 9th century.
Hälsingland is first mentioned in historical sources around 1072 in Adam of Bremen's book on the history of the archdiocese of Hamburg, where he describes the region as part of the kingdom of Svea. For a long time there was talk of a "Greater Hälsingland", which also included Ångermanland and Medelpad. There are two theories about the origin of the name Hälsingland.
One theory suggests that the name refers to the narrow sea bays ("necks") that existed in ancient times but no longer exist today due to land uplift. Like Ångermanland, which refers to Old Norse enter, sea bay, also referred to Hälsingland in geography.
The second theory originates in the writings of the Icelandic historian Snorre Sturlasson. He writes about how a man named Kettil Jamte emigrated east from northern Tröndelagen in the 7th century and cultivated large settlements beyond the mountains. As the first settler in the area, the country of Jämtland was named after Kettil Jamte. What does this have to do with Hälsingland? Well, Kettil had a grandson, Tore Helsing, who according to The Saga of Haakon the Good was forced to flee east after a killing. He then cultivated the inner parts of Hälsingland, and this man is said to have given his name to the province of Hälsingland. Regardless of whether Snorre Sturlasson is right or wrong, it has been established that the provinces of Hälsingland, Ångermanland and Jämtland had a particularly strong connection with the Tröndelagen in Norway.