The Faroe Islands are the latest, and perhaps the last, of the northern European islands to be visited during a very conscious personal quest over many years. Weighed down with information about the weather there, we went in May with scarves, gloves and wet weather garb; apart from a little rain and fog on day 2, we enjoyed unbroken sunshine, cloudless blue skies and light breezes. We gathered we were just extraordinarily lucky, but we prefer to think the Faroes have a wonderful climate.
The National Art Gallery in Torshavn has already been noted (two posts back). Torshavn is the capital, a small but typical north European city around the head of a bay, now a port visited by much commercial shipping and cruise-ships. It is the base for a fishing industry and ferries to some islands in the Faroese archipelago – and to Denmark, to which the Faroes belong.
The photograph shows Torshavn from the sea to its east. The red building on the right marks the end of the historic town centre filling every bit of space on a narrow peninsula jutting into the bay. Called by its traditional name, Tinganes, this historic area is carefully curated in terms of its turf-roofed, timber and white-washed stone buildings while continuing to be both residential, a work-place and the seat of government (cf. the ‘Thing’, the early seat of government, in both Iceland and the Isle of Man). We had it almost to ourselves and it looked immaculate in the morning drizzle when we walked round all of it. informed by an elegant, transparent information panel:
That saves me a lot of explanation! The text is overprinted on part of the town plan, outlining some of the buildings in the next few photographs:
This illustrates one of the ‘property marks’ referred to above. It was in the centre of the gable of a single storey house, one which presumably belonged in the 17th century to F.V. Gabel. When I photographed it I thought it was a date-stone of 1659 but I see now that the 9 goes with a 3 in a font and incision quite distinct from the crown, the 165, the open circle (or C) around the 5 and the name below. In other words, I don’t know how to read this inscription; perhaps someone can enlighten me.
ADDITION: and a reader duly enlightens me. This inscription dates to 1693 in the reign of King Christian V – all perfectly obvious once you know how to read it! Mr Gabel, about whom I have conflicting stories, still has to be elucidated but he probably is a member of the von Gabel family who ruled the Faroes in the second half of the 17th century. Thank you, reader.
I’ll now turn to the wider landscape in a separate blog.