Eidet, an old shortcut

If you are familiar with the Norwegian name Eid or Eidet, you may also be aware of the reason behind it. In Sarpsborg exists such a place.

I found the subject at an old traffic junction in the local area. I’m talking about «Eidet», just below the Eidet Inn, for those who remember it. It was in the bend by the old European route E6, about one kilometre from the hospital at Kalnes, in the Sarpsborg municipality. It had a panoramic view over the Visterflo lake, a part of the Glomma delta.

Eidet tunnel with the plaquette of king Haakon VII

This tunnel was established in 1909 for floating timber from Vestvannet lake to Visterflo lake. As a result, they avoided the Sarpefossen waterfall, which represents an obstacle on the Glomma, Norway’s biggest river.

That way, they provided timber for the many sawmills downstream, all the way to Fredrikstad and the ocean.

Then I will provide you with three photos of Visterflo lake before we move to the end of this story.

Since the Viking Age, and indeed long before that, boats were taken overland, right at this spot, precisely for the same reason – to get past the rough current above and below the Sarpefossen waterfall.

So here it has been a busy traffic point for time immemorial. The ancient Norwegian «highway» to Europe. Maybe with an inn, too, for all I know.

Almost in shuttle traffic, I imagine oxen pulling Viking ships on carts on the steep hill at Eidet. Back then, Norway had hardly any roads except for the waterways. So presumably, there must have been a lot of people and activity here.

The word «Eidet» derives from eid, an isthmus, which means a narrow part of the land between two watersheds. In older days, eid meant a place where you could pull your boat over land. Many sites throughout the country still have «Eid» in their name. «Eidskog» in Hedemark is one example.

Today «Eidet» is a calm and quiet place. But its name and these buildings bear witness to its former heydays. So I just had to paint it on a canvas.

Eidet. Acrylic on canvas 80 x 80 cm

Thank you so much for your company, and please feel free to read more on my blog. You can also subscribe if you wish to follow me. Sincerely,

Tom Thowsen


Heddal Stave Church.
Photo: Tom Thowsen 2020

I`m talking about the biggest Stave Church in Norway, where some of the wooden structures have survived since it was ready in the mid-1200s — some 800 years ago — which is quite impressing

Due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic that hunts us all, I decided to travel in my homeland this summer. I went back to my roots in Telemark, to visit the Church where some of my relatives lie buried. The Amazing Heddal Stave Church.

Once seen, never forgotten.

Look for yourself

Some features in this monumental building breaths Viking age. Did I hear someone saying WOW? — Yes it`s true, in this once a Roman Catholic Church, there are traces of the old paganism. The dragonheads, for instance.

Furthermore, there is a legend telling about the erection of the church. And fasten your seatbelt, please — it was a troll who built it. Just three days of construction!

Oh, by the way, Finn Fagerlokk(Fairhair) is his name. He could not ever after stand the sound of church bells, so he moved along with his family to Himing (Lifjell). In case you need an extremely efficient house builder.

Other pagan features in this church, are Sigurd Fåvnesbane, the dragon slayer, and the shieldmaiden Brynhild.

Old taggers, using runic letters.
Photo: Tom Thowsen 2020
A door decorated with Viking style patterns.
Photo: Tom Thowsen
A thick layer of tar for preservation.
Photo: Tom Thowsen 2020

Though it can feel magical with the troll, he owes us an explanation of how he managed to build this church, in just three days, which have lasted for almost eight hundred years.

Psst, here you have a clue for the durability. Tar galore.

Another thing – he cheated. It demanded years of preparations. He had to choose the right trees in the forest, take the bark off them, let them bleed resin while they were still growing. And finally, after several years of waiting, he cut them down – with other words: A time-consuming prosses beyond our modern people’s imagination. That is the real story. Thankfully for us, someone cared, thank God.

Heddal Stave Church in its surroundings.
Tom Thowsen 2020