The name of Oszkó, sounding somewhat alien to the Hungarian ear, was probably of a Slavic origin, and preserves the memory of a Slavic population that were found, or rather settled here at the times of the Hungarian Settlement, and the establishment of the Hungarian state. The meaning of the name can be derived back to a Slavic adjective meaning “narrow”, which could stand for a narrow area cut out by clearing, or a narrow brook valley.
The village lies on the southern side of a range of hills running between the catchment areas of rivers Rába and Zala. The earlier geographic literature called this range of hills, stretching from the Őrség region to Sárvár, the Vasi-Hegyhát (the ridge of Vas county), but in the maps of these days, it is mostly indicated as Kemeneshát. The use of the name Hegyhát in the local language could be proved from the XVI century, and it is still used for the vicinity of Vasvár in a narrower sense.
The Hegyhát was once covered by huge forests, with beech and hornbeam on its north side, and oaks on the plateau. The largest extension of forests used to be the Farkas erdő (Wolf forest), which also used to be the borderline of the village, and the cutting of which on a larger scale was only started from the XVIII century. Out of all the brooks running off the southern side of the range of hills towards the Zala river, the Sárvíz has the largest catchment area with also the Sió brook belonging to its system. The Sárvíz and its affluents created a deep basin in the side of the Hegyhát, and our village lies at its northernmost point.
In the past history of South-Transdanubia, the roads leading from north to south always played a decisive role ever since pre-historic times. Oszkó itself was formed next to a road that came from the north-south directional valleys of Zala county and went across the Hegyhát here towards the crossing point on the Rába at Rum. The traces of the peoples that arrived on this road – from the Neolithic age through the Bronze age to the Roman era – can be noticed everywhere in the vicinity of the village.
After the Hungarian Settlement, however, another road leading from northeast to southwest, the so-called Soldiers’ Road started to play an important role. This was the road on which our predecessors started on their plundering raids in Italy, and on which, later, the western traders and the enemy’s armies arrived. The road in our region went along the watershed of the Hegyhát, and as the only orientation point of the primeval forest, also marked the borderlines of the earlier villages, among them those of Oszkó, too.
Border defence in the X–XI centuries mainly focused on the control of roads leading out of the country. A defence line of the Soldiers’ Road was built at Vasvár, and can be still seen today. It is the – partly reconstructed – Vasvár fortification. The territory behind the rampart must have played an important role in the defence, and as such, it might have been a property of the king or the county. The history of the area, however, can only be traced from the end of the XII century, when the defence system was dismantled. The land properties then got to the hands of ecclesiastical or secular owners in smaller parts. The only larger extension of the land property, Oszkó, was owned by the Nádasd dynasty.
There were three major, well-known lines of this dynasty (Nádasdy, Nádasdi Darabos and Gersei Pethő), but a line in Oszkó was also starting to come into existence in the second half of the XIII century. Péter, the son of Itemer, and his sons tried to buy out the property ownings of the other family members in Oszkó, and tried to create a continuous body of land. This was largely successful by the beginning of the XIV century, and the biggest part of the Oszkó estate – later Felsőoszkó (Upper Oszkó) – was obtained by the family. The smaller part of the estate – later Alsóoszkó (Lower Oszkó) – was stilled owned by the members of the Nádasdy family. The chapter of Vasvár received a land-grant from Felsőoszkó from one member of the family before the middle of the XIV century.
The short history of the Oszkó branch of the Nádasd dynasty came to an end due to a family tragedy in the middle of the XIV century. In 1355, Miklós, the son of Pető killed his cousin, Beke, the son of Beke because of some possessory conflicts, due to which he himself also lost his estates. A series of litigation processes started and continued for long decades for the properties that got under royal ownership, from which the Egervári family, related to the family along the female line, came out victoriously.
At the beginning of the XIV century, the Nádasdy family lost Alsóoszkó – due to disloyalty – and later it was donated to the Gersei Pethő family. At the end of the XV century, the aristocratic line of the Egervári family died out, and their parts of the Oszkó estate went first to the Kanizsai family, and later to Tamás Nádasdy, but also the smaller nobility of the Egervári family retained some of the estate in our village.
During the Turkish wars – in spite of the fact that the village was afflicted by dual taxation, and it sometimes got depopulated – the possessory conflicts only became worse due to some mortgage contracts. In the course of the XVIII century, however, the Festetics family gradually purchased the whole area that had earlier belonged to the Pethő family, and also bought the land areas earlier owned by the Nádasdy, and now by the Széchenyi family. From the end of the century until the abolition of serfdom, the Festetics family owned Alsóoszkó and part of Felsőoszkó, and the remaining parts of the estate in Felsőoszkó were in the ownership of the Egervári family and the chapter in Vasvár.
After the abolition of serfdom, only the Festetics family kept their seignioral domestic estate in Alsóoszkó, but it was parcelled out into allotments, too in 1909. Their other land areas had been earlier sold together with the chapter and the Egervári family. Some of these land areas were bought by the former engineer of the Festetics estate, Lajos Győry, whose descendants, the Rusznyák-Höhn relatives remained the only significant landowning family of the village until the times of nationalisation.
From the abolition of serfdom until the co-operative movement most of the villagers were small or dwarf holders engaging in corn production and animal husbandry. In spite of the fact that the situation of the farming families became more and more unfavourable generation by generation – mostly due to the fragmentation of the properties – the number of the population in the village kept growing continuously straight until the 2nd World War, and reached its highest of 1450 people by the 1930-ies. After the war, however, the population started to diminish first slowly, and after 1960, when the co-operative was established, it started a steep drop to reach the present stable level of seven hundred people.
The village lived through the Socialist era as a smaller centre (it held the head office of the joint council of three villages – Oszkó, Olaszfa and Pácsony –, it had the centre of the co-operative, which covered more and more villages, and it also accommodated the regional centre of the lower forms of elementary education). As such, it could avoid conscious downsizing, even if it had no chances for major developments. It lived as a village of an underdeveloped small region, with slightly better than average resources.
Part of the population of the village still earns their living from agriculture partly within a new type of co-operative established on the foundation of the earlier one, and partly on newly established family farms. Those in permanent employment mostly go to work in Vasvár, Szombathely and Sárvár. There are also local job opportunities offered by the school, the kindergarten, the home of elderly people, a sawmill, a smaller shoe factory, and a chicken farm.
The cultural life of the village are dominated by two societies with long traditions, the Rozmaring drama society, and the Hegypásztor Kör. They join forces to celebrate the holidays of the village, like the village day and the national holidays. The Hegypásztor Kör was originally established to protect the popular monuments on the vine-hill, but nowadays they also engage in the organisation of tourism, and they operate a telehouse, also.
Out of the sights, first of all the several times reconstructed parish-church of a medieval origin, and the press-house on the vine hill should be mentioned, but the world war monuments, the memorial place in the graveyard, and the stone crosses along the road from the XIX–XX centuries are also significant.