hidden europe 2

Glimpses through the haar

by Nicky Gardner


hidden europe visits an Atlantic outpost - the Faroe islands

From a distance, and in the misty haar which is a feature of the Faroese summer, the lighthouse could easily be mistaken for a minaret. Its slender white form, topped out in red, has an elegance that befits its handsome position atop the cliffs. For the lighthouse at Akraberg, first built in 1909, and shown on the front cover of this issue of hidden europe, marks one end of the Faroes, the southern tip of the island of Suðuroy.

South from Akraberg there is no-one until the crofts of Ness on the Hebridean island of Lewis. And westward, nothing till Greenland's ice clad eastern margins. Even in the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse, there are few local inhabitants. The men responsible for maintaining the light used to live hereabouts, but in these days of automation, there is no longer any need for a permanent watch at Akraberg. It is said that there was once a Frisian settlement here at this outpost of the Nordic world, a little community of seafarers from the islands off the coasts of modern day Denmark and Germany. They washed up here in the eleventh century, decided to pitch camp, and three hundred years later fell foul of the Black Death and that was the end of Frisian influence in the Faroe Islands. Since the demise of the Frisians, this rocky southern tip of Suðuroy has been reserved mainly for the seabirds.

The Faroes have a way of casting a spell over visitors.

This is just an excerpt. The full text of this article is not yet available to members with online access to hidden europe. Of course you can read the full article in the print edition of hidden europe 2.