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The oldest Norwegian laws, those of Gula and Frosta, go back to a time when the culture of the Middle Ages was still a somewhat novel experience in Northern Europe. Though the copies that have survived seem to date from the twelfth century and later, the codes must, in considerable part, have taken form in the eleventh century, or as early as the first generation of the Christian age.
Heathendom had by that time been outlawed, but one seems justified in believing that the cult of strength and valor was for some time yet a force that had to be taken into account; for the principles that governed in the heathen age retained much of their ancient vigor, and the old civilization, rooted, as it was, in the soil itself, was able in large measure to maintain both life and validity.