To Svein's Lighthouse
To Svein’s Lighthouse
Svein had an unusual childhood at Tungenes Lighthouse as did all the children who lived there from its inception in 1828, because with the lighthouse being built on the mainland coast they were able to attend school with all the other town children. The disadvantage of this location for the seafarer was that the dangerous rocks stood infront of the lighthouse presenting a hazard to shipping if it came to close to shore.
The weather was benign while we were there but the photo of the new beacon in a storm shows how wild and dangerous this coast can become. The unmanned beacon was built offshore to the seaward side of the shore hugging rocks and as you can see from the display board Svein’s father, Bjarne was the last keeper of the lighthouse.
Svein was a much loved teacher by profession and on our brief travels around the area and back through time he would stand and tell us about the history of his homeland with the pride of a professional.
There has been human habitation in this area of south west Norway, Jaeren since the last ice age 11,000 years ago when Norway was a disunited landmass with small unconnected communities. Groups of 10 to 20 family members inhabited the smooth round rock cave at Vistehola with its distant views of the fjord and fishing waters nearby between 6,700 and 8000 years ago in the Stone Age era.
Moving forward in time to the Bronze Age 3000BC to 1200BC we saw the rock carvings at Fluberget that were found in 1879. The red paint has been added recently to make the drawings of the boats, people, hands and sun symbols stand out. As we walked back to the road a group of students with their tutor came to take a look and a couple of them approached Svein for a chat having been his pupils a few years before.
A mere 1500 years ago in the Iron Age the farm at Ullandhaug was a thriving community and today’s site is a unique reconstruction of three out of the four farm buildings re-erected in the 1960’s and I was amused by the juxtaposition with the modern multi storey building behind. You might be thinking that this was enough history for one morning but we made one more visit into the history that formed modern day Norway at the site of the Battle of Hafrsfjord.
Sounding like something from which ‘The Vikings’ TV series was born Harald Fairhair and his men fought this major unifying battle in 872AD, successfully defeating all the lesser kings and thus creating one Norway. He became the first king of the entire country and reigned for an impressive 58 years. Equally impressively he fathered 6 sons with such wonderfully Viking names as Eric Bloodaxe, Haakon the Good and Olaf Haraldsson. He must have been quite a catch with his golden locks and girded loins.
The three swords you see symbolise the laying down of the sword into the rock so they cannot be used in warfare and thus peace reigns rather like the biblical beating of the swords into ploughshares as urged by the Prophet Isaiah. The tallest is of course Harald’s at 9.2 metres and the other two show respect for two of the defeated kings. A nice touch. Granny lying defeated at the bottom is a bit of fun for the grandchildren.
Fortunately Svein and Irene’s home lies on route to our next snippet of history, Utstein Abbey, but first some lunch.