TNB Night Owl – Kirkjubøargarður

Cropped image of the village of Kirkjubøur on the island of Streymoy (Faroe Islands). At left is Saint Olav's Church from the 12th century. The central building is Kirkjubøargarður (also called Roykstovan), the worlds' oldest still inhabited wooden house, from the 11th century. It's also a museum. In the background the islands Sandoy and Hestur. Credit:Vincent van Zeijst.

The Faroe Islands archipelago lies in the North Atlantic about 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Scotland, roughly midway between Norway and Iceland. The territory of over 52,300 citizens is self-governed, but like Greenland it is technically part of Denmark. Primarily, the people speak Faroese but most also speak Danish and English.

One notable point of pride the locals can claim is having the world’s oldest still-occupied wooden house, known as Kirkjubøargarður (translated from Faroese as Yard of Kirkjubøur, the village in which it’s located). It is the centerpiece of what is still the largest farm on the islands.

Dating from the eleventh century (that’s one thousand years ago!) the farmhouse was originally built to be the home of the Bishop and the Catholic seminary of the Faroe Islands. Because there are very few trees on the islands, according to oral tradition the wood for the building was bundled together and floated to the Faroes from Norway.

After the Protestant Reformation, the King of Denmark seized all real estate belonging to the Catholic Church. Since 1550, one family has been the only tenant of the house and farm. Seventeen generations of the Patursson family have farmed the King’s land, which is now owned by the Faroese government. By tradition, the oldest son of each generation becomes the next tenant farmer, or King’s Farmer. Today, the family still lives in Kirkjubøargarður farmhouse, but it is also a museum, coffeehouse, and working farm with cattle, sheep, and horses.

Here’s a short video about the Faroe Islands that is so well done I really want to call it a film rather than a video. “The Faroe Islands with evocative Eivør’s music: 1. Far Away 2. Rain (Fær Øer, Føroyar)” (8:58):

Queàstion Of The Night: Would you live in a centuries-old house, or do you prefer something new-ish?

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About Richard Doud 230 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.