In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Faroe Islands, an autonomous group of islands in the North East Atlantic. Home to almost 50,000 people and with historical links to Denmark, Faroe Islands is a country within the Kingdom of Denmark, but has a distinct culture all of its own, in part due to their isolation and remoteness from the Danish mainland (and pretty much everywhere else also.)
The Faroe Islands have probably been inhabited since approximately 300 AD onwards according to archaeological evidence, but the first full settlement was established by legendary figure Grimur Kamban. The Faroe Althing, may be the oldest parliament in the world if, as thought, it was established in approximately 900AD. Faroe Islands were occupied by the British during World War 2 in order to prevent invasion by Nazi Germany. Fishing has always been a mainstay of the economy and advances in technology versus depleted fishing stocks have had opposing impacts on the fragile fortunes of the archipelago.
We also had the pleasure of speaking to Arni Zachariassen, a local Faroese who was able to give us plenty of interesting insights into the local culture and mindset. Big thanks to him for his time! (Listen to Arni on The Faroe Islands Podcast many years ago here)
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Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Ireland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)
Some further reading:
- “The Faroe Islands: Interpretations of History” by Jonathan Wylie
- “Faeryinga Saga” (full text in English here)tells the tale of Tróndur and Sigmundur and their relatives are the turn of the first millennium – History of the text
- Various articles about newer research questioning if Vikings were indeed the first colonisers of the islands: The Independent (2013); The Icelandic Times (2016); Durham University (2013); Archaeology (2013)
- The link between your Bluetooth headset and a Viking king (Smithsonian)
- “The Sheep Letter”
- Photos of St Magnus’ Cathedral (fotostrasse)
- An explanation of Faroe Islands importance in World War 2 (YouTube)
- For more info on the British occupation of Faroe Islands in WW2 see here
- Thoughts of politicians today on Faroese independence (theLocal.dk)
- The Faroese battle with: 1) Google Translate; and 2) Google StreetView/SheepView (official video)
- Tróndur’s curse on the Christians was the subject of a poem by Janus Djurhuus (1881-1948) set to music by successful folk metal group Týr (1998-now)! https://youtu.be/E9AwVjRbhto?t=144
- Flanders and Swann’s satirical song “Rockall“
- An extract of “Lívsmynd” by Xperiment
- The text of the poem “The Death of St Brendan” by JRR Tolkien, which you heard, can be found here
- Watch: Sigmuds kvaedi – ring dance