Origin of the Harding name – and the “Hardinger”
is a Germanic or Anglo-Scandinavian name, and is still used in Norway today for
people who come from the Hardanger fjord area, and their dialect is
Hardingmål. The name is also used in Norway
and Sweden (as Hårding - pronounced as "Hawding" - or Hardingz) to
represent a "Tough Guy". A cross-country skier would for example be a
Hello, I am Steve Harding, a Harding from Wirral in north-west England:
welcome to my “Harding” page, I hope you like it!
THE HARDINGER OF HARDANGER
Click the picture to
see this clip of Erling Skjalgsson
address the Hardinger at a meeting of the Thing assembly.
From the 2005 Rygekongen Festival, Hafrsfjord, 2005.
Click here to hear
(and download) Erling address the Hardinger.
HARDING – HARDANGER BRYGG
(thanks to Nigel Harding).
The Harding name seems to have
its origins in Scandinavia and Germany.
It appears to be an old Nordic/Teutonic term for "tough guy"
and is still used as such in Sweden
and Norway. There seems to be two sources which may be
linked, one from Norway - the Hardanger Fjord, where
people are still called "Hardings" or “Hardinger” (Viking
times: "Hardingar"): the dialect of the
people from this area is known as Hardingmål. The other as Danish/Angle hordes where they
were recorded in the Anglo Saxon Rune Poem as the Germanic warrior tribe "Heardingas".
Both groups may have originated from the same source – the Charudes of the Jutland
peninsula, who under pressure of expanding groups around them moved to Horderland/Hardanger area where
they became the Horders or Hardinger.
Ancient forms: Harding, Hardinge, Hartung,
Hearding, Hadding, Herdan, Herden, Herdene. The name
also appears in Nordic/Teutonic mythology: in Icelandic literature they are the
"Haddings" and their legendary leader Hadding is protected by both Thor and Odin. In German
mythology Hadding appears as Hartung.
In Viking times and before Harald Harfagre had tried to unite Norway at the end of the 9th
century, Hardanger was a separate kingdom ruled by
King Harding. He apparently lived in the village of Kinsarvik, which now has the
excellent Harding Motel og Hyttentun,
but in Viking times it had a boat house which held King Harding's ships (the
walls of this boat house still exist today). The Norwegian Hardings
have their own saga about him (recalled here by Tor Instanes):
THE SAGA OF KING HARDING OF HARDANGER
King Harding ruled Hardanger in the time of the Vikings (c.900ad) and lived in
Kinsarvik. During a crusade to eastern England in
900ad King Harding was captured by the English and put in a prison tower. The Hardings liked their King and decided to rescue him. They
equipped a Viking ship, called Hardinggeita (lit.
"The Harding ship") to set sail to England and set their King free.
The Hardings painted one side of the ship white and
the other side black. When they approached the English shore they did so with
the white side facing towards the shore...
... after which they managed to get to
the prison tower and switched the king with an old man dressed like the king.
Then they set sail and made their escape but with the black side of the ship
facing the shore...
The English did not recognize them as
the invaders as they were looking for a white ship. The saga ends with King
Harding returning safely to Kinsarvik, Hardanger. For another version of the saga visit the Kinsarvik page.
Kinsarvik, (with promotional video for Hardangertun) and the excellent Harding Motell/ Hyttetun
sounds like a great place of pilgrimage for the Harding clan. And for footie
fans there is even a Harding Soccer Team, where? .. you've
guessed it, in Kinsarvik! “i vakre Hardanger – in beautiful
Hardanger” Heia Harding!
And there are some connections with another Scandinavian group - the Normans:
the following web-site in France http://hagdik.fr/prenoms-normands/says:
HARDING (anglo-scandinave) : « celui
qui est dur, solide, fort » - attesté en Normandie dans
le nom de lieu Hardinvast.
THE HARDING FIDDLE - THE NATIONAL
INSTRUMENT OF NORWAY
The Harding Fiddle (Hardingfele).
The Harding fiddle (Harding fele or “Hardanger Fiddle”) has
been said to be "almost as
famous as Stave Churches and Viking Ships", and one of its famous exponents is Hallvard T Bjørgum. Download this "wonderful piece" and visit Karin Code's web site.
Hardingmål or Hardingemål is a
dialect of Norwegian still spoken in Hardanger/ Hordaland. F.ex.
“Dai” is used instead of De (“You”), fann is used
instead of fant (“found”), ikkje
instead of ikke (“not”): Dai fann ikkje sildæ: “you didn’t find any herring”.
EXTRACT FROM "THE ANCIENT HISTORY
OF THE DISTINGUISHED SURNAME HARDING", FROM THE TALES OF ROBIN HOOD,
In terms of the
introduction of the name into the British Isles this extract is probably not
far off the mark.
"The Vikings, a
fierce sea faring nation, acquired settlements in the 9th century at the
northern tip of Scotland.
It is from this group that the family name Harding emerges. Researchers found
the origin of this surname Harding by referring to documents such as the Orkneyinga Sagas, the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland the Inquisitio and translations of local manuscripts, baptismals and tax records, found in the north at Dingwall, and in the Orkneys and Shetlands. The first
record of the name Harding in England
was in Derbyshire where they were seated from very ancient times, some say well
before the Norman conquest.... The family name Harding emerged as a Scottish
clan or family in this northern
territory of Derbyshire where they were recorded as a
family of great antiquity seated with manor and estates in that shire. The late
Lord Harding, Scion of the family name, claimed to be descended from the Heardingas/Hardinger, a
celebrated Viking race who settled in and near Derbyshire. They were widely
recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086: their seat at that time was Kings Newton
in Derbyshire, but later branching out to Combe Martin and Upcot
in Devon. They held considerable estates in Madingley (Cambridge), Vallathie
In Kings Newton, at the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border and also within the
Danelaw, there is the 17th century home of the Hardinge
Family, restored in 1910 and the excellent pub/hotel The Hardinge Arms - like the Harding Motell
at Kinsarvik, this is strongly recommended to all
pilgrims of the Harding/ Hadding clan! A stain glass window at Madingley
Hall (just west of Cambridge
near the Cavendish Laboratory) proudly shows Baron Harding.
ANGLO SAXON RUNE POEM
This is where the Heardingas appear, in
connection with “Ing” and the East-Danes:
Ing wæs ærest mid East-Denum
gesewen secgun, oþ he siððan est
ofer wæg gewat; wæn æfter
ðus Heardingas ðone hæle nemdun.
Ing was first seen by men among the
till, followed by his chariot,
he departed eastwards over the waves.
So the Heardingas named the hero.
Hear this reciting of the poem in old and modern English
… and if you’re really interested, hear
Julian Glover (introduction by Sir Ralph Richardson) with his superb reading of Beowulf
In Icelandic literature they are the
"Haddings" and their legendary leader Hadding is protected by both Thor and Odin: see part 24 and
onwards of from Viktor
Rydberg's TEUTONIC MYTHOLOGY
HARDING AS A SURNAME
It has to
be remembered that patrilineal surnames did not come into common use in the British Isles until the 14th Century. Here is a record of
the escapades of one the earliest recorded Hardings –
Thomas Harding from Wirral from 1353:
Hardings in Wirral: Extract from "Calendar of
Cheshire Trailbaston Proceedings 1353" ed. P.
Booth in Cheshire
History (vol. 12, 1983):
Henry Cherleton v.
Robert Poole and Thomas Harding.
· Henry Cherleton
complained that Robert Poole and Thomas Harding killed his dog at Great Neston,
Wirral on Friday 1st Feb. 1348 and broke his hedges. They denied guilt. Jury
verdict - Not guilty.
Although the name Harding clearly has
Germanic roots, despite some claims to the contrary it is impossible to
properly trace surname lineages from these areas into the British Isles since
the “patrilineal” system of surnames came well after the Anglo Saxon and Viking
Age invasions and colonisations. Its use as a proper surname in the British
Isles possibly evolved in England
from a description of someone coming from these groups of people or possibly
from Anglo-Scandinavian communities using the expression to describe a
particular tough guy in a village or region.
Ultimately when in these various communities patrilineal surnames did
eventually emerge, one particular Harding passed his name to his sons and
daughters and so on. In Scandinavia this
never happened because the use of patrilineal surnames is quite recent, and in
the case of Iceland they still use the “son of and daughter of” system of
AT LEAST 3-4 LINEAGES IN THE
There may well have been a number of
these tough guys around starting different lineages when paternal surnames came
into being. We can get an idea of this
from the 1891 Census and maps showing the distribution of people with the
surname Harding. There appear to be 3
separate main cores in England: I – Northern England (focusing on
Yorkshire-Lancashire); II – Southern England; III - South-West England and an additional smaller
core (IV) in Eastern Scotland
Adapted from the 1891 census and Ancestry.com
The highest density
(compared to other surnames) was in what is now the Borough of Dacorum, incorporating Hemel Hempstead (NE part
of Core II). This was formerly the Hundred of Dacorum (Latin for "of the Danes") within the old
Danelaw. It was also listed in the Domesday book as Tring and Danais. When
there is enough data available the Y-DNA results for the Hardings
may give us a better idea as to how many different lineages there are. For
example a Harding – whose paternal lineage is from the Wirral (- the peninsula
between the Rivers Dee and Mersey to the SW of Core I) - took part in the
Wirral & West Lancashire Genetics project and was found to belong to haplogroup K*xR1 – the orange sector in Fig 3 of http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/25/2/301.full.pdf
SOME WELL-KNOWN HARDINGS
Some well-known Hardings include Gunnar Harding prize winning
author/poet/critic from Sundsvall, Sweden and Daniel Harding the
principal guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and Nottingham
Forest footballer Dan Harding.
Famous past Hardings
include Peder (Petrus) Harding, 13th century hero of the Baltic Sea island of
Gotland. The (uncoloured) rose symbol on his gravestone at the church in Vall/Visby has become an emblem for Gotland and
appears on the coat of arms for their annual Medieval Festival:
The rose of Peder
(Petrus) Harding, 13th century hero of Gotland
Descendants of Peder apparently bear the name
Hardingz in Gotland.
Visit the Kinsarvik, Hardanger
… and visit the Wirral & West Lancashire Viking Anniversary
The site is maintained by Stephen Harding