Definitive Islands 2 - Serie
Definitive Islands 2 - Serie for only GBP £4.54
With an area of only 10 km2, Nólsoy is one of the smallest of the Faroe Islands, and it is situated east of Streymoy, just outside the capital Tórshavn. Despite its height of 372 metres, it is the lowest of all 18 Faroese islands. The poet H. A. Djurhuus once said in a song describing the Faroes island by island: 'Nólsoy stretches up its back, stands strong – so long and narrow, guards Tórhavnsvåg'. The song explains the appearance of the island and the importance it has for the capital Tórshavn in a simple and descriptive manner.
Around 1400 the name of the island was written 'Nors-oy', and philologist think that the name is Old Norse in origin, meaning the narrow or slender island. Where the settlement is situated now, the island is particularly narrow and low, and when there is a storm blowing from the east, the waves sometimes wash right across the island.
Several well-known people, both women and men, were born on Nólsoy, but the most famous of them by far is our great national hero, 'Nólsoyar Páll' (1766-1808). He fought against the poor treatment meted out by Danish officials on the Faroes, which the Faroese people had to endure. He was also a great poet, and used his poetic gifts in the fight against the officials.
During the Napoleonic wars the supply of grain from Denmark was cut off, and he was shipwrecked on a voyage with grain from England. In 1893 the royal Danish Administration of Navigation and Hydrography built a lighthouse on the southern tip of Nólsoy, and this is the largest lighthouse in the Kingdom of Denmark. The population figure reached its height around 1970, when it was approximately 350, but as on the other small islands the population has declined. Today around 250 people live on Nólsoy.
Skúvoy has an area of 10 km2 and is situated southwest of Sandoy. The island takes it name from the great skua (Stercorarium skua), known in Faroese as 'skúgvur'. In the landnam or settlement period they undoubtedly nested there in great numbers. This large and beautiful bird is mainly found in the countries around the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, especially Iceland and the Shetland Isles. In the Faroe Islands their numbers are not large, but on Skúvoy there are quite a few of them, and if you get too close to its territory in the breeding season it will make a vertical dive straight at your head.
The settlement of the same name is situated on the eastern side, and approximately 90 people live there from fishing and farming. When the population was at its largest just after the Second World War, twice as many people lived there. The western side of the island is a steep rock wall almost 400 metre high. It is home to a large number of birds, especially guillemot (uria aalge), and the collection of eggs used to be a significant source of income on Skúvoy.In the early 20th century approximately 25-30,000 eggs a year were collected in the best years. But the guillemot population has decreased to such an extent that the collection of eggs has practically stopped.
Skúvoy is known from the 'Færoyinga Saga'. It was the home of the chief, Sigmund Brestisson, who introduced Christianity to the Faroe Islands in the 11th century. With his sword in his hand he forced the people to receive this new religion. He is mentioned a great deal often these days, because the Faroese are celebrating the millennium of the introduction of Christianity
The island of Hestur is situated between the main island of Streymoy and Sandoy and has an area of no more than 6 km2, but it has been inhabited since the Viking Age or late middle Ages. The oldest settlement seems to be at southern tip of the island on 'Hældur' (the heel). Here are the remains of old settlements and it is also the sunny side of the island, which means that the grain ripens quicker here than elsewhere. Because it is almost impossible to carry out any fishing from there, however, people moved and settled on the eastern side, which is where the settlement is now.
The island is quite high (421 m), with the upper section being a large flat area with several small, idyllic lakes. When a new ferry berth was built on the western side of Streymoy, it was necessary to blast away a large part of the rock, which was transported across the fjord to Hestoy to be used for a new harbour there. This has been of great importance to fishing and traffic to the island. Even though the settlement is small, with just under 50 inhabitants, it has a swimming pool. T
he people on Hestur live from fishing and farming, but just as on Skúvoy, the western side of the island is steep and birding was of great importance in former times, especially puffin catching.
The island of Koltur is situated northwest of Hestur, and is the smallest inhabited Faroe Island with an area of only 2.5 km2, and with one family living there. Approximately half of the land on the Faroe Islands is public property, which is divided into farms of varying sizes. Koltur is such a farm and is leased to one particular farmer.
A large part of the island is taken up by a tall mountain (478 m), which has given the island its name. The name comes from the Old Norse word 'koltr', meaning knoll. Like Hestur, Koltur was inhabited in the Viking Age or early middle Ages. Originally the island was one farm, but some time in the past it was divided into two farms, thereby getting two 'bylingar' or communities. The original one is called 'Heirni i Húsi' and the other one 'Norðuri i Gerðum'. A later division resulted in four farms. The population increased and reached approximately 50 at its largest. The current farmers live at 'Norðuri i Gerðum', and the restoration of the original farm with farmhouses, outbuildings, etc., is now underway with financial support from public and private banks and funds. The purpose is to preserve an old Faroese 'býling'.