Skyss and the Transport of Government and Church Officials

Skyss and the Transport of Government and Church Officials

From early Medieval times and into the Post-Medieval period, government and church business often required officials to travel along the coast on official business.  Due to the fact that neither the government nor the church owned their own transportation, a system known as Skyss was developed in order to transport these officials to and from their business.  Skyss was a system of relay transportation provided by members of local seaside communities with stops generally located at the gjestgiveri.   Much to their angst, the individuals called upon to provide Skyss were not rewarded for their labors.  The system became more structured with the development of the tilseiingskyss network in 1648.  Officials stationed along the route were in charge of obtaining the transport for those requiring it (Bent).

It wasn’t until 1816 that the system was altered.  Though local communities still bore the burden of transporting those on official business for the state or church with no remuneration, other individuals could hire the service at a price based upon distance traveled and the number of men required.  The new skyss-skifte system was managed by the gjestgiveri, now called the skysstajoner, who were no longer required to guarantee the exact hour of the availability of the transport.  By 1860, those providing skyss for members of state and clergy were paid for their labor.  Use of the service gradually declined due to the introduction of steamships and railroads, with the last disappearing in the 1930’s (Bent).

The boat most often used for skiss was the attiring, which looked like a small medieval longship with a fixed mast.  Manned by eight rowers, it could also be used as a fishing vessel (Bent).