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Hornsund: Gåshamna

360 degree panorama

When you enter Horn­sund, then you will soon have Gås­ham­na on your stard­board side, as it is on the sou­thern side of the fjord. If “Goo­se bay”, as it trans­la­tes, refers to geese that may have been pre­sent when the place got its name, a ship, the Dutch town Goes or an Aus­tri­an count Goess from the 19th cen­tu­ry – the first time the name appeared was on an Aus­tri­an map, drawn by Sterneck and published in 1874 – is not known any­mo­re. But what is well known is that Gås­ham­na pro­vi­des reason­ab­ly good ancho­ra­ge just under the coast and often enough pro­tec­tion from the strong east-wes­ter­ly winds that are so fre­quent in Horn­sund to allow landings in con­di­ti­ons that make other places just impos­si­ble.

Alre­a­dy the wha­lers knew that and estab­lished their sta­ti­ons in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry on both sides of the bay. They hun­ted „Right wha­les“, which we know as Bowhead wha­les today, and left their impres­si­ve bones in lar­ge num­bers blea­ching for cen­tu­ries under mid­night sun and polar night. Exact­ly as you can see them today if you get the­re.

The­se pan­ora­mas shows the wes­tern side of the bay Gås­ham­na.

A Nor­we­gi­an trap­per built a hut in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry on the site of one of the 17th cen­tu­ry blub­ber ovens. Today, this dis­tur­ban­ce of a cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge site would be com­ple­te­ly ille­gal and impos­si­ble. Back then, it was just a con­ve­ni­ent site, thus pro­vi­ding us with a pret­ty uni­que com­bi­na­ti­on of remains from dif­fe­rent peri­ods of Spitsbergen’s histo­ry.



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last modification: 2019-02-23 · copyright: Rolf Stange