Blog by Gillian Hovell, The Muddy Archaeologist www.muddyarchaeologist.co.uk
On leaving Shetland, we headed to Norway, across the North Sea. This journey was quite surreal – hardly a ripple to seen or felt. I couldn’t help but consider that, on days like this, a Viking longboat or even Bronze Age ships might sail the sea and find new lands and resources across the waters.
And so to Bergen. We enter past picturesque scenes and the harbour is splendid, with our ship berthed within easy walking distance of the historic Bryggen, the Hanseatic Wharf. Colourful and atmospheric, it once made fortunes for those in the Hanseatic League and now tempts tourists to part with their money in craft shops, restaurants and museums.
Our exploration of history took us through the town and on to Edvard Grieg’s home, with its nearby museum, set on an idyllic hillside on the shore.
The composer, born in 1843, lived until 1907 and, despite being less than an ideal student and being weakened by illness, his talent for music provided him with a career and fame. He and his wife, the singer Nina Hagerup. A life of travelling and performing, and the death of their daughter, took its toll on the couple but when their friend, Beyer, helped their reconciliation, they bought the house in Troldhaugen on the edge of Bergen town. It was a space for respite from the touring and it remains a peaceful location, despite the crowds of visitors and the museum to Grieg.
Even so, visitors meant Grieg had little peace and a composer’s hut was built for him. Grieg and his wife were buried, by his request, down by the water near the house.
And so, on to another atmospheric site, that of a stave church. These entirely wooden churches are a part of Norway’s ancient history …