Monday, 30 March 2015

Snartemo Sword Hægebostad

Hægebostad is an area just outside of Lyngdal in Southern Norway. Its history dates back well before the Viking times where ancient rituals were practised around groups of large stones at Tingvatn. The area is an archaeologist’s dream, where ancient items have been found over the years.

Hægebostad Photo: Lyngdal Tourist Office

Snartemo Sword                                                                     
One such item is the ancient Snartemo sword.  The sword was found on a farm in 1933 by Richard and Olav Kjellingland when they were about to prepare the land for farming.  A tomb was located under a large stone slab dating back to the early 500's. Inside the slab was a sword that was to be called the “Ancient Snartemo sword.” There were also other items in the tomb including metals, a weapon set, rare fabrics and bear claws.

Large sword monument at Snartemo. Photo Adam Read
This amazing discovery resulted in a press and media frenzy across the world and has been hailed as the "The loveliest migration time grave find to this day was dug up on Norwegian soil."

Because the sword had been buried in this tomb for thousands of years, it had decayed over time and was in three pieces. The handle of the sword was adorned with gold ornaments of human figures and fantasy creatures and the buckle was decorated with animal heads. 
The sword was adorned with geometric patterns and swastikas.

German interest
Interest in Nordic archeology was strong in Germany pre-war and its scientists were among the leaders in the field. This resulted in a close relationship between the German and Norwegian archaeologists.

In fact, information about the sword and its discovery was translated into German in 1935 and two years later, a Norwegian archaeologist named Bjørn Houge traveled to Germany for a lecture on the sword.

In 1936 the International Congress of prehistoric and historical research was held in Oslo. There was a special exhibition with Snartemo discovery as the main attraction. Several leading German archaeologists attended and among them was Herbert Jankuhn, who came to play a central role in the drama a few years would unfold in Norway. He was Himmler’s right hand man for culture and archaeology. In this role he hunted numerous artefacts from German occupied countries including of course, the Snartemo Sword.

Then war broke out between Germany and most of Europe and Norway was occupied from 1940 to 1945.

Herbert Jankuhn at a project. Photo: Archive of Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden
Most of us know the Indiana Jones movies where the main character tried to stop the Germans getting their hands on ancient artefacts, well there was a similar story within Norway.
The Vikings were of course seen as being successful warriors and so the Germans were fascinated or even desperate to get their hands on anything found from those times. 

Some Norwegian archaeologists foresaw a problem with this before the German invasion of Norway in 1940 and so wanted to protect these precious artefacts. As a result, the sword was hidden in a vault at the Bank of Fagernes which is a little remote town in the middle of Norway. There were very few who knew of its location.  Two replicas were also made by the Germans from photos, drawings and writings. One of these was presented to a Norwegian Nazi sympathiser - Vidkun Quisling, during a ceremony in 1943. The occupiers were unable to find the original, so it was a bitter sweet smile because he knew it was a copy and that they could not find the original.

Vidkun Quisling with Hitler photo: Riksarkivet
One year after the end of the German occupation during World War 2, the sword was returned to the Museum of Cultural History where the sword still is to this day.

Later in the 1990’s a company in Lyngdal was given permission to make four copies of the sword. One was given to the Tingvatn fornminnepark og besokssenter, one was given to the King of Norway as a gift when he visited the region, one was also given to the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo and the other is believed to be kept by the maker.

Copy of sword at Tingvatn. Photo Adam Read

Copy of sword knitted emblem. Photo Tingvatn fornminnepark og besokssenter
Unfortunately nothing is known of the man that owned the sword, but he was believed to be a man of importance, as the sword and other items that was found with the sword were very valuable in the 500’s.

The gold and different metals used on the sword are said to have come from various parts of Europe but it is believed that it may have been made locally in the Hægebostad area.

Tingvatn fornminnepark og besokssenter
Visitors can learn about the sword's history at the "Tingvatn fornminnepark og besokssenter" in Hægebostad and see a full sized replica. There is a very detailed article about the sword and Germany's obsession with finding it can also be found at the museum.

Explore history at the Tingvatn fornminnepark og besøkssenter. Photo: Adam Read
Tingvatn is approximately a one hour drive from Kristiansand. There are direct flights to Kristiansand from Amsterdam and Copenhagen as well as domestic connections within Norway.

Tingvatn fornminnepark og besokssenter
Address: Tingvatn, 4595 Tingvatn
Amenities: General facilities: parking, toilet
(Sword is located at 4590 Snartemo).

The Red symbol is where Tingvatn is located.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Perfect photograph opportunities in Farsund and Lista

Farsund is a coastal town in Southern Norway that is a must see when touring the coastline. The old wooden white houses, the fantastic harbour and events throughout the year are a good reason to visit.
There was quite a lot of wind moving the boats up and down so not easy to get a still shot of them!
I went there for several meetings and afterwards dropped by the Lista beaches to catch the sunset.

The colours were amazing.

Sunset to the left and Lista Lighthouse to the right.
The Lista lighthouse was the perfect setting for some pictures.

Very tempting to go for a surf at Lista!
Just around the corner is Nordberg Fort which was built by the Germans in World War 2.

To cap off a great trip, I stayed at the Rederiet Hotel in the centre of Farsund. There was quite a lot of wind, but the lights and clear skies were perfect for pictures.
Rederiet Hotel
The Rederiet Hotel has 17 rooms all with wireless internet access. Breakfast is included in a stay and most rooms have a view of the harbour.
The manager of the Rederiet Hotel, Theresa Malmo, and I had a long chat and did a little Humans of Kristiansand interview.
Adam Read
Visit Sørlandet

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Odderøya Lighthouse in Kristiansand

The Odderøya Lighthouse is located just south of the center of Kristiansand in Vest-Agder. It was created in 1832 and was decommissioned in 1984. It is protected under the Cultural Heritage Act.
The lighthouse is open on Sundays to the public and occasionally there is free coffee and muffins available to visitors. 

The Lighthouse keeper
I took my son with me one Sunday in January in ideal conditions. The sun was shining and there was no wind. That day was actually a new record for the lighthouse with over 200 entries into the guestbook.

We met Lars Verket who is a very friendly man with a wealth of knowledge about the light house. He gave us a quick tour of the premises with some stories. Lars is a keen kayaker and has actually written a book about his paddle pilgrimage of 1500 kilometres along the coast of Norway.

He is also a fantastic photographer and has taken thousands of pictures of Norway's nature.

History of Odderøya Lighthouse

The lighthouse was built simultaneously with two other light houses to cover the entrance into Kristiansand from the sea. The other lighthouses are Oksøy lighthouse and Grønningen lighthouse.
The lighthouse building is a wooden construction and there is a fog bell hanging on a tree in front of the building. The lighthouse facility includes an attendant's house, outbuildings boathouse and landing. The buildings, which are mainly from 1874, are well preserved. 

Do not forget to sign the Odderøya Lighthouse guestbook!

Adam @ Visit Sørlandet 

Monday, 2 February 2015

100 kroner meals in Kristiansand

As a foreigner, eating out in Kristiansand was a little out of my reach, but when I moved here permanently, I made it a point to try different restaurants in Kristiansand. 

When I say a little out of reach I refer to the Australian dollar or British Pound against the Norwegian kroner. Back then, the Aussie dollar did not get you very far.
A quick picture before the fun began
But, after living here and earning local currency, things change and a dinner out with the wife is an important thing to do. After all, a happy wife = a happy life...
(Do not tell her I wrote this because we should go out for dinner more often!)

There is a large variety of restaurants and food on offer; Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Sushi, vegetarian, international and of course Norwegian food.
Enough to fill up the biggest of eaters
Prices do vary from place to place, but the food quality is very good.
Some choose to use a knife and fork to eat a hamburger.
Once a year, the city launches a 100 kroner for meal offer and in 2015, it is from Monday the 2nd of February to Sunday the 8th of February.
Spise 100 logo
Some of the meals include salmon, cod, lobster, sushi, hamburger, pizza, ribs and steak from restaurants such as: Bølgen & Moi, Patricks Pub & Restaurant, the local butcher Sorensen, Jonas B. Gundersen and Gastro pub.
Yes, I was hungry and finished first!
Some work colleagues and I decided to take advantage of the offer at a restaurant called "Hos Naboen". The special here is called a "Viltburger" which is a fantastic hamburger with meat from moose and/or deer. It was served with french fries.
Great service with a smile.
Normally the hamburger is about 150 kroner, so it is a very good deal. The restaurant was packed full of people as it will be for the rest of the week.

We were all very satisfied with the meal and will of course will be back.

Take advantage of the offer and you can find out more information about the Spis for 100 Kristiansand here. Also keep an eye on the site and its facebook page, so you know when they  have this special offer.

Cheers and enjoy!
Visit Sørlandet

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Winter in Lyngdal

Winter in Lyngdal and Hægebostad

Lyngdal is located in Southern Norway approximately 1.5 hours from Kristiansand and 2.5 hours from Stavanger. It is the gateway to the Lister region so it is the ideal place to base yourself if you want to get the most out of the local attractions during the winter.

Photo Lyngdal Tourist Office

The winter months turn the town into a picturesque place with an abundance of things to do in Lyngdal.

Where to stay in Lyngdal?
Choose between a romantic and nostalgic stay at Paulsens Hotel which takes you back in time of when British Lords would stay at the hotel to enjoy salmon fishing in the area. They also have amazing food.

Or try Rosfjord Hotel located on a beach by a fjord. Next to it is a free outdoor exercise area and a long pier that points out to the fjord. A truly Norwegian experience!
Here is a full list of places to stay in Lyngdal.

Located next to the Rosfjord Hotel is Sørlandsbadet. It is the regions largest indoor and outdoor waterpark and all year round, the water is a consistant warm temperature. Why not try the hot spa will it is snowing outside! There are waterslides, a gym, spa treatments - you name it.
That will keep the whole family happy.

Lucky Strike Bowling Center
The Lucky Strike ten pin Bowling centre is open all year round and has food and drinks. There is also an activity room for the kids and it is located next to the Kvavik beach which is fantastic for a stroll. Here the views are amazing with the fjord and mountains.

Photo Lucky Strike Bowling Centre Lyngdal
Because Lyngdal is surrounded by mountains, fjords, lakes and the ocean - the hiking opportunites in Lyngdal are endless. Some are difficult to get to in the months with snow and ice, but you can find a full list of the hiking spots in Lyngdal here.

Salmon Staircase in Kvåsfossen 
Along the Lygna river there is a salmon staircase where visitors can see the salmon through a large glass viewing area. This is open during the winter via appointment only. Contact the Lyngdal tourist office for more information.

Lyngdal Culture  
There are a few galleries in Lyngdal where you can purchase local and international artwork.
1. Ole Ertzeid - Graphics and oil paintings.  Open by appointment 
2. Visual artist Arne Åmland. Open by appointment 
3. Wannabe gallery. Can find opening hours here 

Shopping in Lyngdal
Lyngdal has some niche little stores that are quite famous within Southern Norway especially folk from Stavanger. 

Here are some of them:

Lille Ollebolle -  - childrenswear and shoes - special marks.
Bazaar -  - interior shop
Stella Shop - Fashion and gift / interior
Olsens garden - Creative goods for sale
Trade Park - Shopping
Sentrumsgården - Mall
Sandal Farm - Shopping
Meierigården - Mall

Food in Lyngdal:
Paulsens Hotel has great foods in a relaxed atmosphere.
If you like "street food" then check out Knøtten tavern. The special pita bread is famous throughout southern Norway. 
Jonas B Gundersen - pizza restaurant  
Bakeries: Harry Bakery - Walthers bakery and confectionery

Events and festivals in Lyngdal during the autumn and winter:
October 11 Lobster Festival
November 15th Autumn Beautiful adventure

Hægebostad is a one hour drive north from Lyngdal offering attractions and some mysterious history with ancient stones and a sword that was found on a farm from before the Viking times in the 500 hundreds.
Winter in Hægebostad - Photo Lyngdal Tourist Office
Mydland Gard  
Mydland farm has deer and Scottish highland cows and offers catering and accommodation in Hægebostad. The farm is located just off Barnevandrer path - which is a kids hiking trail from Kvinesdal to Grimstad used for the past 100 years.

Photo Mydland Farm

Tingvatn Fornminne Park is a museum with a shop, cafe, art exhibitions, archeology and cultural exhibits. Hours from October to May: every Sunday. 12.00 to 16.00.

Contact the Lyngdal Tourist Office for more information.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Winter in Farsund

Wondering what to do for the Christmas period in Southern Norway? Why not take the kids down to Farsund which is a 1.5 hour drive from Kristiansand.

Farsund has activities and things to see all year round. Christmas time is no exception and if you have not planned your Christmas or winter holiday break, then consider Farsund.


Start off in the city of Farsund with a trip to Varbak. It is a lookout point in the city centre with panoramic views over the city, Lyngdal fjord to the left and the coastline to the right.

There is a picnic bench and a large custom made stool where you can have some lunch and enjoy the views. With the snow covered roofs of houses and trees, it is the perfect place for winter pictures.

Here is a link with more information and directions to Varbak.

Lista Lighthouse

Afterwards, venture down to the Lista area. This is where the picturesque beaches stretch along the coastline to the Lista Lighthouse, called Lista Fyr. lt is an old lighthouse that was first used in 1836. The views from the top are stunning and there is a bird watching station nearby and old bunkers left from World War 2.

Visitors can stay overnight at the lighthouse in one of two apartments that can house up to seven people with cooking facilities and a TV. The Lista lighthouse apartments can be booked here.


All Christmas and until the first of March 2015, the Flipside skatepark is open. It is Scandinavias largest indoor skate park where the kids can skate, go on scooters, bmx bikes and roller blades.

Do not stress if you do not have your own equipment, because it can be hired at the centre. Refreshments are also available for purchase.

It is fun for all ages.

Opening hours are: 
Fridays: 17-22
Saturdays: 10-22
Sundays: 10-18

Nordberg Fort

Within the Lista area, there is Nordberg Fort. lt was a German fort built to protect the mainland and coastline from allied forces and is the perfect place to learn about the German occupation and we as local history. Children can play in the bunkers and tunnels and go exploring.

The fort is a cultural heritage site and is preserved in its original form. It is one of the few  German coastal defense areas that is well maintained.  

It is open every Sunday throughout the winter between 12:00 and 17:00. You can find more information about Nordberg Fort here

Farsund Tourist Information
Torvgt. 2
4550 Farsund
Phone: +47 38 38 21 15 +47 38 38 21 15

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christmas in Kristiansand

I am from Australia have lived in Norway for about 10 years. Every Christmas I think about home and the Christmas traditions we have there. We do it a little differently you could say....

Back in Oz, we celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. Christmas eve is usually celebrated by going out on the town and having a few drinks with friends which meant that Christmas day, we were allowed to sleep in. Of course it is a bit different for couples with children, but I did not have any kids, so that is what me and the boys used to do.

Christmas in Australia is in the middle of the summer, so it is always hot. Shorts, flip flops and a shirt are standard dress attire that day.

Christmas Eve 2004 in Melbourne with friends (me on right)
At lunch time, I would go to my parents place and open the presents. After that we would eat a massive lunch which usually meant that I could barely walk afterwards. The lunch would be a barbeque with a variety of different meats - turkey, lamb, ham steaks, you name it. Desert was always Mum's fantastic chocolate cake, which I have been known to go a little overboard eating it....

Typical Christmas lunch at Mums
We were fortunate enough to have a pool, so a few laps would help work off the excess of food!
The rest of Christmas day was hanging around at their house and nibbling on the left overs.

My wife and I had our three children in Norway, so I never experienced a Christmas in Australia with kids. When we go home every other year as a family, we have large lunches with Mum and Dad which is pretty much what it would be like if we were there during Christmas. Mum always has presents for them, so I guess it is a kind of Christmas for them anyway. We usually go home in the summer months.

One of my boys on the beach in Queensland during the Norwegian winter
My first Christmas in Kristiansand was a bit of a shock I have to say. The Norwegians celebrate it on the 24th and 25th and sometimes the 26th. WOW, that is a lot of celebrating! The Norwegians also have a funny tradition of sending Christmas cards that are pictures of their family. I have never seen that before, but it is a nice thing and now we also do it. Actually we try and make funny ones each year by doing silly things.

This was an attempt at a "funny" Christmas card picture.. 
For the past 10 years, we have had Christmas Eve at home with the kids. My wife usually cooks a roast and we let them open one present that day. The following day it is a massive dinner at her parents' house which requires two large dining tables. Her mother has 13 grandchildren and 12 of them are boys, the 13th one is a girl that was adopted from Columbia. Well, at least she got a girl in the end...

We put all of the Christmas presents under the tree. THE TREE, now that is a story in itself. Every year it is a bit of a mission. Her parents live on a beautiful farm with a lush forest full of pine trees. So each year we walk through the forest to find the perfect tree. I am the impatient one that is satisfied with almost any pine tree, but my wife likes it perfect. We usually disagree on which one to cut down and in the end she gets her way. Her parents have exactly the same "discussion" when they go tree hunting, so I am glad we weren't the only ones!

I love the smell of pine in the house and always have. In Australia we also had a real tree most years but sometimes it was a plastic one. I really enjoyed the real pine trees and the smell takes me back to my youth every time.

Another attempt at a funny Christmas card
I do think that Christmas here in Norway is a little like torture for kids because they see all of the presents under the tree but cannot open them until after dinner! Half the dinner they sit there staring at the tree and usually they do not eat very much. By the time they start to open the presents, they literally rip open the wrapping paper. A bit like a man lost in the desert who finally finds water. I guess that is a pretty good comparison.

Another tradition her family has, is for one family member to dress up as Santa. They have used the same outfit for probably 60 years. Well, it looks like that anyway. My first Christmas here, I had to dress up as Santa and I knew almost no Norwegian, so all I could say was "Ho Ho, ja and takk". I guess they figured out it was me.  

Back in Australia, Christmas was all about the family getting together which did not happen that often as all of us kids had moved out and lived our own separate lives. Here in Norway with my wife's family it is the same but I would say that Norwegian families are a lot closer than Aussie ones. Julia's parents are always having visitors from family members, almost everyday. Back home, I would sometimes go weeks without seeing mine. Here is a classic example of this close nit Norwegian family.

They live on a road that is about 5 kilometres long. Half way up the road I will pass by her sister's house, then it is her uncle's on the right, then her cousins on the right and then another cousin, her brother on the left and finally her parents on the right! That is a lot of road to travel before passing a house that is not related to her family! That is special but it is also very nice. I personally could not live next to one of my brother's because he would drive me insane, but here it works.

The city of Kristiansand looks amazing during Christmas when there is snow. The decorations and lights on the trees and the festive feeling you get when visiting the town centre are special.

We also did that in Australia but it does not have the same affect when it is hot and sunny. Sure, I have worn a Santa hat out in the surf once...

One of my boys on the beach near home during the Norwegian winter
Some people go to a real effort to make their houses look nice during Christmas in Kristiansand. Lots of lights and decorations both inside and outside their houses. That is nice and my kids love it when we drive past them. Actually, it makes my life a bit harder because then they want to have the same types of decorations at our house! Thankfully my wife comes to the rescue there. She is an amazing Mum. She decorates our house with lights each year which can be clearly seen from the street and she is famous for her Halloween parties. This year, the entire neighbourhood came to our house for a Zombie Disco! My kids were very impressed.

I have always liked giving presents to people and I think I got that from my Mum. She was and still is the same. In fact, she has a massive closet at her house filled with gifts that she gives out from time to time.

Here in Norway I always buy a little something for my mates. A few years ago it was beers, then a couple of pairs of CAT socks, last year it was carving knives and this year it will be a fleece jumper. They never get me anything but then again, they do not have to because they are not used to it. My wife always says that I should not do it because they will feel uncomfortable and will feel that they need to buy me something. We don't do that here in Norway she says. That is probably true, but I like to do it anyway. I think it feels nice when you receive a gift from someone and so I want to do that for them. Ho ho ho.

In comparing traditions from Australia to Norway I would have to say that the Aussies live up to their reputation as a chilled out race that take it pretty easy on Christmas Day. The Norwegians on the other hand are very organised and like to spread out the celebrations. I spoke to a woman the other day who said that they celebrate Christmas over 6 days. Six days!!! She said she has a large family in both Kristiansand and Oslo, so they travel to and fro.

Lastly I would like to say that I hope there is enough snow for Tveit Skisenter to open because that is the perfect Christmas present!

Tveit Skisenter with the monsters
God Jul and Merry Christmas.

Adam @ Visit Southern Norway