Bergslagen is the name given to a large, diffuse area in central Sweden that covers several districts—Värmland, Närke, Västmanland, Dalarna, Uppland and Gästrikland. The name itself is related to “rock” or “mining”, the “berg” suffix being found in countless place names where mining has been carried out. Grängesberg and Kopparberg are just two examples.
The medieval town of Norberg had its own court of law in the year 1400, and it is thought that it was here that the word Bergslag was first used to denote a geographical region. However, it was not until 1508 that the word Bergslagen was actually used to designate a large area. In 1444, a royal charter authorized the setting up of a smelting house in the district of Norberg.
When the word Bergslagen was first used on medieval maps and documents, it referred to a smaller area, embracing east Värmland, west and north Västmanland, north Närke and south Darlarna. Some smaller districts also incorporated the name of Bergslag, such as Norbergs bergslag, Vikabergs bergslag, etc., which explains the use of the plural form, “the Bergslags”, used in some old documents.