From 4th to 15th April 2019, I visited beautifully located Bergen in western Norway. Aim of my visit was to measure, describe and photograph various fascinating artefacts and bird bones which were discovered in five Viking Age cremation graves. Between 8th and 12th April in the wonderful University Museum of Bergen I examined and documented over 30 finds (e.g. jewellery, weaponry, smith tools). Fascinating information, which I collected during my very fruitful research stay in Bergen, will be published in the nearest future.
Beyond work in the University Museum of Bergen, I also had the possibility to see gorgeous architecture and wonderful mossy forests in Bergen. From 5th to 7th and 13th to 14th April I visited old part of Bergen and museums, I ascended mount Fløyen and I saw stave church in Fantoft and beautiful deep Puddefjorden.
Travel to Bergen, 4.04.2019
On 4th April, I started my travel to the far North. When we flew over south-western Sweden I saw beautiful endless mountain ranges, peaks and lakes of western Norway. I flew above snow-covered mountains which were separated by irregular fjords. I saw icebound glacial lakes surrounded by high peaks. Furthermore, I admired mighty grey-white glaciers slowly crushing rocks. Later, I saw multicoloured wooden houses located between steep mountainsides and long fjords. Then, I saw also numerous skerries surrounded by the dark blue water of fjords. I was (and I am still) enraptured with these marvellous and mysterious Norwegian landscapes (as I was enraptured with Stockholm archipelago bathed in the rising sun which I saw during my flight in 2017). In my opinion, snow-covered and frost-bound mountainous Norway cut by numerous deep fjords seems to be severe but for me is extremely gorgeous. I dream to explore (and even to snowboard) snowy mountains of Norway.
When I left my plane, I felt and breathed the cold pure mountain air. It was an unforgettable experience to be in Norway for the first time ever.
Day 2, 5.04.2019
This day I devoted to sightseeing of well-know parts of Bergen and the University Museum of Bergen.
I started my walk from the Sailor’s Monument (Norwegian: Sjømannsmonumentet) was manufactured by Dyre Vaa in 1939-45. Its every side is dedicated to sailors and explorers from different historical periods. In the one side of this monument is placed bas-relief with the depiction of Viking Age longship sailing under a starry sky. Above that this side of the Sailor’s Monument is ‘guarded’ by three armed warriors in costumes stylised to Viking Age cloths. In my opinion, this monument is an interesting example of the commemoration of historical events and 20th-century reception of the Viking period.
Later, I walk to famous Bryggen (known also as Tyskebryggen), UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, which is located by the harbour of Bergen. It consists of several rows of colourful wooden houses. In the time of Hanseatic League, these buildings served as storehouses for fish and cereal. Today in them can be found shops with souvenirs, art galleries and restaurants. Between buildings are located narrow streets covered with wooden planks. I really enjoyed my walk among beautiful multicoloured wooden buildings of Bryggen.
After my visit to Bryggen, I walked to see the neighbourhood of the Bryggens Museum (which was closed due to maintenance) and St Mary’s Church. I found there nice monument of historian and poet Snorri Sturluson. The original sculpture was manufactured by Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland and it was placed in Reykholt (Iceland) in 1947. In 1948, in front of St Mary’s Church in Bergen was erected copy of Vigeland’s sculpture.
Next, I saw Bergen Cathedral and walked up beautiful Skivebakken street to see Bergen from above.
Later, I visited the old cemetery in Bergen (Assistentkirkegården). It is quite small and surrounded by old trees covered by mosses and lichens. At the time of my visit nearly whole area of the cemetery was covered with purple, white and yellow flowers (mainly crocuses) and green grass. There were also several species of birds flying and happily chirping. These multicoloured plants and singing birds full of life and joy contrasted to old silent stone grave monuments commemorating the dead.
After my visit to the cemetery, I saw several nice streets with wonderful wooden buildings.
I finished this day sightseeing of Bergen in the University Museum of Bergen when I saw fascinating exhibitions concerning the Prehistory and Viking Age.
Day 3, 6.04.2019
On this day, I saw several beautiful streets of Bergen. I also visited a nice Bergen Aquarium.
Kjellersmauet is street with colourful houses. It is interesting for me not only because of its beautiful architecture but also due to its history related to Norwegian black metal. In this place, photographer Peter Beste took a well-known photo of Einar Selvik (then a member of band Gorgoroth) in corpsepaint.
Later, I walked along Knøsesmauet and Strangebakken streets.
Before I visited Bergen Aquarium, I saw wonderful fjord and nice Pacific totem pole. This sculpture was manufactured by Duane Pasco. It is a gift from people of Seattle to inhabitants of Bergen.
Day 4, 7.04.2019
On the wall of building at Nikolaikirkeallmenningen street (part of Bryggen) is painted a cute Norwegian troll presenting a collection of cheese knives. This adorable painting manufactured by Skurk is entitled ‘Traditional Hustler’ (see also a description of this artwork on blog Streetart in Bergen). Trolls are supernatural beings which appeared in the old Norse written sources and later in Scandinavian folklore. They were topic of the new interesting book ‘Trolle: Ihre Geschichte von der nordischen Mythologie bis zum Internet’ by Rudolf Simek which was published in 2018. It should be also mentioned that cheese slicers (Norwegian: ostehøvel), same as are presented by the troll, were designed by Norwegian inventor and businessmen Thor Bjørklund. Currently, these tools, in different colours and covered with various ornaments, can be found in every shop with souvenirs in Bergen.
Håkon’s Hall (Håkonshalle) is a beautiful building raised in Gothic style by Norwegian king Håkon Håkonsson between 1247 and 1261. This majestic building, with a turbulent history, is part of Bergenhus Fortress (Bergenhus festning). It consists of big basements, several rooms and a wonderful great hall. The great hall is truly marvellous. It has big windows with lancet arches and beautiful wooden vault. Furthermore, its walls are covered by several tapestries. At the time of my visit, the great hall was filled with magic music by Wardruna and Einar Selvik. It was an amazing experience to spend an afternoon in this extremely beautiful building!
Day 10, 13.04.2019
In the morning, I visited the beautifully located stave church in Fantoft. On the way back to Bergen, I accidentally discovered huge cemetery in the district named Møllendal. Every time when I am in Scandinavian country, Germany or England I visit local cemetery to see how people were commemorated there. I also try to document interesting grave monuments, in particular, these with depictions of birds (or other animals). I discussed my previous cemetery wanderings in my post concerning a visit in Chester (see post ‘In Chester‘).
Cemetery in Møllendal is located near the harbour of bay Store Lungegårdsvannet. It is the biggest cemetery in Bergen and one of the oldest. The whole area of the cemetery is full of greenery (e.g. numerous species of trees) and various species of birds. From the place, where the cemetery is located, is a wonderful view over Ulriken highest of the Seven Mountains (de syv fjell) surrounding Bergen. The cemetery was divided into several parts in which all graves are placed in parallel rows. Grave monuments are very diversified. Some of them are standing simple gravestones (or stone crosses), some are very elaborate tridimensional sculpture (e.g. sculpture of two roe deer). During my visit, I observed that in a big number of gravestones are bas-reliefs in the form of flying birds (e.g. geese) and empty nests or on the top of them were placed small figurines of birds (in majority doves or small passerines). These figurines are looking at each other (if they are in a pair) or at the grave (or at the sky). On some of them are located two or even three figurines of birds. Some gravestones were decorated with bird-shaped bas-relief and single figurine of for instance dove. A number of bird ornaments in this cemetery is quite extraordinary! In several cemeteries, which I visited, figurines of Aves are in minority and they were only placed on (or by) several gravestones. In the case of Møllendal cemetery, nearly every fifth grave has bird ornament! Furthermore, on some graves figurines of mammals (e.g. dogs) accompanied bird-ornaments. It was interesting to observe that bird-shaped decorations are important for local people in remembrance of their dead probably symbolising eternal love, afterlife, joy and the Holy Spirit.
During my visit to this beautiful cemetery, I had the luck to find a place where the grave of Norwegian archaeologist Haakon Shetelig is located. When I found this location I saw a modest grave slab, surrounded by green mosses and grass, which was considerably damaged by water and wind. Inscription in gravestone was barely visible and moss-grown. Thanks to very good light I read the name and surname of this researcher. I observed that this grave is the only grave in the row (and whole cemetery quarter) which was abandoned and not renovated for a long time.
It is sad that grave of the person who was (and still is) important for Norwegian science and culture (e.g. his book ‘Vestlandske graver fra jernalderen’ is one of the mostly quoted Norwegian archaeological monographs) is in such condition. Is very sad that Haakon Shetelig, who was an archaeologist of outstanding merit, is not commemorated in a proper way.
In the evening, when I returned from Møllendal, I photographed the cute monument of His Majesty the Hedgehog (Hans Majestet Pinnsvinet) who is the high protector of the Bergen Student Society (Studentersamfunnet i Bergen).
Day 11, 14.04.2019
On 14 April, I ascended mount Fløyen. Photos, which I took during my hike, can be found in the gallery ‘On Fløyen‘.
Travel to Poland, 15.04.2019
In the morning, with a heavy heart, I said goodbye to the cold fjords, wooden houses and high mountains.