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2006Definitive Villages - Set

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  • 13.02.2006
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About Definitive Villages

Syðrugøta is a village from the Viking age and, together with the neighbouring villages, Gøtugjógv and Norðragøta, is often simply called Gøta, and these villages constitute a municipality. The name, Gøta, is derived from the word for street or road, and in bygone days there was a main road here from Skálafjørður to the villages further to the north and east. The first part of the name tells us that it was the southernmost of two villages.

Gøtugjógv is therefore a younger village than the two others. An old legend says that there was a church at Syðrugøta, but it was moved to Norðragøta because of a crime that was committed there. It is still possible to trace the location of the church and churchyard. Originally, the village consisted of two 'býlingar', or small communities, Niðri við Hús and úti í Grógv, which coalesced years ago.

A new village grew up around 1860, Undir Gøtueiði, which is situated on the common near Syðrugøta and borders on Skálafjørður.

There is an extensive common at Syðrugøta, and it is a long distance from the northern part to home. A legend has it that the men from Syðrugøta had a house with a hearth in the northernmost part where they could spend the night if it became too late for them to reach home before night came on. A shepherd from the village, who was called Jákup Dintil, was a very fast runner. He was staying at this house one evening when two rustlers came in and discovered him there. He escaped from them with the help of his speed and cunning, ran home and told the others about the rustlers. Syðrugøta is adjacent to Gøtuvík, which is open towards the east, and the surf becomes heavy when the wind blows hard from the east and south-east. Norðragøta is more sheltered in this respect and therefore a municipal harbour was built there.

The stamp shows the beach below the houses, and what is known as a G-festival is arranged here every summer. The festival has been a great success and attracts large numbers of young people, and it grows in size every year. Last summer, 5000 people, which corresponds to 10% of the entire population of the Faroes, attended the festival. Famous foreign stars provided the entertainment.

Fuglafjørður lies close to the fjord of the same name, which comes from the word for bird. The strange thing is that there are no bird cliffs at Fuglafjørður, but at one time there was a large number of shearwater, and they hatched their eggs on the common, on the mountainsides, and between the boulders. It is possible that a particularly large number of shearwater and other birds bred on the common around Fuglafjørður.

Four old 'býlingar', or small communities, are known from the village, notably við Gjógvará, við Garð, í Toftum and á Áargarði.

Fifty years ago, an archaeological excavation was carried out at við Gjógvará, and the finds included sites of houses and various fragments of household articles from the Viking age, c. 950-1050. The town has grown considerably, especially during the past 100 years, and all the old 'býlingar' have coalesced. The population in 1801 was 128, and today (2004) is 1594.
There is a thermal spring called Varmakelda on the beach on the southern side of the fjord. The water in this is about 10 degrees hotter than it is in other springs. In the old days, there was a tradition for young people from all the neighbouring villages to gather here on St. Hans Day to dance and enjoy themselves together. Not a few marriages resulted from these gatherings.

In 1849 people moved from Fuglafjørður and built a new village, á Hellunum, on the northern side of the common, and in 1985 the first community centre was built at Kambsdalur, which is 3 km south of the main town. About 200 people live there today.

Fuglafjørður is a fine natural harbour and it created a good deal of activity in connection with sea fishing, and many fishing vessels had their home port here in the fjord. A herring factory was built in 1964, which has been enlarged a great deal over the years, and is now the biggest workplace in the town.

An arts house was built a few years ago and it is used for a considerable number of concerts and similar activities.

Leirvík is an old village that borders on Leirvíksfjørður, and three old 'býlingar', or small communities, are known here from the old days, uttan Á, á Toftanesi and við Garð. It was necessary to carry out an archaeological investigation of the area at Toftanes when the harbour and the road to the ferry berth were enlarged. There was a major excavation and house sites and artefacts were found which prove that Leirvík is also from the Viking age. These sites have now been scheduled.

Once, a well-known man lived in the village. His name was Páll and he was known as Leirvík's Páll. A satirical ballad was later written about him, which relates the story of his expedition to Velbastaður with the aim of visiting Ellind the farmer's daughter. The visit ended in a battle between them and Páll killed Ellind with the help of a trick.

A smuggler's ship arrived at Leirvík in 1725 and people rowed out to it to buy their goods and were unfortunately infected with smallpox. Shortly afterwards, there was a wedding in the village and everybody became infected. A large number of the village people died, but there was a recovery very soon after the incident, particularly because yeomen from other villages moved into and manned the royal estates, which were without a master. The largest part of the land around the village was royal land. The population in 1801 had grown to 85 and now, 200 years later, it is ten times as big, 851, (2004).

Leirvík was a fine fishing village because it was easy to row out to the fishing grounds both to the north and south. Leirvík was also a ferry berth for traffic from the southern islands to Norðuroyar. A tunnel is now being constructed beneath Leirvíksfjørður, and next year it will be possible to drive direct to Klaksvík and most parts of Norðuroyar.