From our beautiful little anchorage last night, we cruised round to Svolvaer, the largest town of the Lofoten’s.
We didn’t stick around though apart from to collect a few supplies – it’s amazing how quickly we forget how to provision a trip. Don’t fret, we didn’t run out of gin (or tonic). From here though, we left Hal in the sunshine and ventured across the island to the Viking museum of Borg. Borg is the site of the largest Viking hut found in Scandinavia. While very little of the site remains, there is a museum and an interactive re-enactment of the building as archaeologists depicted it from remains of sites throughout Scandinavia.
We spent the day wondering around, trying on Viking armour and wondering around the site, which contained replica Viking boats, a Smithy (complete with blacksmith), a boathouse and a museum of actual findings from the site and other nearby regions. Most of the findings were dated around 400-600 AD and included artefacts, clothing and remnants of buildings or bridges.
Some of the most interesting pieces were described as gold carvings depicting most often a couple embracing. These were found buried next to the Chief’s seat in the huts and are believed to be placed there as a sign of respect when a chief dies and the next one takes over, typically a son. Apparently only a handful of these gold pieces have been found and they are unique to Scandinavia, never seen further south. So of course I was interested to see these amazing gold carvings and wondered eagerly through the museum in search of them. Approximately half to a quarter the size of a postage stamp, they were closer to flecks of gold than tablets. The carvings were just about visible without a magnifying class. Not that they weren’t beautiful. And the skill required to engrave such a small piece of metal was magnificent. However it emphasised how archeology and understanding of these essentially pre-historic (the Vikings had almost no literary records. Much of the information known about this settlement – presumably – comes from Iceland, where an important chief migrated with his family, following the threat from the soon-to-be first King of Norway.) is often just a collection of assumptions made from information available through artefacts / human remains found in and around important sites. Some of the information is reliable – for example we now have incredible dating techniques for all sorts of materials and the terrain in which they are found; we can detail a person’s diet based on information available in their teeth; and we can make gross assumptions about how a community lived, whether they had religious practices, art or other social activities, whether they were sedentary or nomadic. But what haven’t we found? What can we say about an object, particularly one so small and fragile, that’s found in one part of the world but not another. How does this change our story, our understanding of ourselves?
<<find picture of gold fleck >>
Eeek sorry this is meant to a travel blog!! Back to business. After our very thought-provoking afternoon we headed back to Svolvaer and visited the ice bar, a gallery of sculptures in a big warehouse. Possibly not the best way to spend a sunny evening in the Lofoten Islands and we didn’t last long before heading back out into the sunshine but it was fun to see.
And back in the sun again… Several cruised ships stopped in throughout the day but didn’t seem to stay long.
We spent the night in Svolvaer after a lovely dinner overlooking Hal moored up at the public dock.
The next morning we made our way down to a sweet little village called Henningsvar, known locally as “The Venice of Lofoten”. It was certainly lovely, dotted with little galleries and cafe’s, including a glass-blowing workshop.
There was a local graffiti artist who’d done some cool Banksi-like pieces around town.
We explored a bit before heading back to the boat for lunch and off to the next stop… Here’s looking down the canal towards the entrance of the fjord.