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Qassiarsuk Church

Qassiarsuk Church


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Qassiarsuk

Qassiarsuk (Old Norse: Brattahlid) is a settlement in Southern Greenland.

This village is the place Erik the Red once had his settlement. Several small stone huts and other traces of the Norse settlements can be seen in the area. In Qassiarsuk a church and a longhouse have been reconstructed to give visitors an understanding of life in those days.

By boat Edit

The tourist office in Narsarsuaq arranges trips every day, but it is also possible to hitch a ride with a fisherman.

Over land Edit

Narsaq is situated 50 km by dirt road to the south. It should be possible to walk the road, and experience hikers can cross the countryside.

It is also possible to be shipped across the Narsarsuaq river from Narsarsuaq, and to walk along the dirt road.

If you talk with the people in the cafeteria, you can get a guided tour to the reconstruction of Thorhilda's church and a typical longhouse from the same period. You also see the typical dressings of the period, and maybe get to hear some Icelandic, the modern language most closely related to old nordic. It is also possible just to see the reconstructions on your own.

An original Inuit house can also be found in the village.

If you are into geology, you might keep an eye out for crystals in the area. As you walk along the roads look for faults and you may discover beautiful minerals in between the layers of rock.

Pilersuisoq (the supermarket) has even found it's way to serve the 50 people living here. They have kind of everything - just not very much of everything.

The cafeteria is worth recommenting. It's situated in a pale yellow building with a view over the fjord, and if you've been hiking for days, the daily hot meal is wonderful.


Contents

At Brattahlíð stood probably the first European church in the Americas: Þjóðhildarkirkja (Thjodhild's church, actually a small chapel). A recent reconstruction of this chapel now stands at a distance from the actual site, along with a replica of a Norse longhouse.

At the site of the main church, built after the Norse were converted to Christianity, investigators have found melted fragments of bell-metal, and foundation stones of it and other buildings remained into the 20th century, as did the remnants of a possible forge. This church (not Thjodhild's chapel) measured 12.5 by 4.5 m. and had two entrances, with what was evidently a hearth in the middle. Apparently, fire destroyed it. The church, possibly a 14th-century structure, may have stood on the ruins of an earlier church. The churchyard has tombstones, with a cross cut on one of them. On another stand engraved the runes for "Ingibjørg's Grave". Today [update] , stones clearly mark the church's outline, though people probably placed them there in recent years visitors can also see the surrounding graveyard.

One farm building nearby measured 53 by 14 m, with stone walls about 1.5 m thick a turf outer bank provided further insulation. Inside, it had a flagstone floor. Flat stones — or, in one case, the shoulder-blade of a whale — formed the stalls. Some of these buildings still stood in 1953, contemporaneous with the Bluie West One airfield at Narsarsuaq, but today they exist mostly as depressions in the ground.

Brattahlíð still has some of the best farmland in Greenland, owing to its location at the inner end of Eriksfjord, which protects it from the cold foggy weather and arctic waters of the outer coast. It has a youth hostel and a small store. More extensive facilities exist in Narsarsuaq across the fjord.

Brattahlíð hosted the first Greenlandic Þing (parliament), based on the Icelandic Althing. Its exact location remains unknown. The exact causes of the disappearance of the Norse settlements toward the end of the 15th century remain unverified, but probably resulted from a combination of the Little Ice Age's cooling temperatures, soil erosion, abandonment by Norway after the Black Plague and political turmoils, more convenient ways for Europeans to procure furs and a mercantile eclipsing by the Hanseatic League, and competition from the Inuit moving southward.

    about the present settlement on the location , a bishopric seat founded in the 12th century close to Brattahlíð
  • Diamond, Jared, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Viking, 2005) ISBN0-670-03337-5
  • Ingstad, Helge (tr. Naomi Walford), Land under the Pole Star (New York: St. Martin's, 1966)
  • Jones, Gwyn, The Norse Atlantic Saga (Oxford University Press, 1986) 0-19-215886-4

"Brattahlid, Norse Greenland", Earth Observatory Picture of the Day (June 2, 2005), NASA.

An Old Captivity (1940) by Nevil Shute is a fictional account of an early aerial investigation of the old Norse settlement at Brattalid and of Leif Ericson's journey to North America in c 1000 AD.


The settlement has a general store operated by KNI, [ 4 ] and there is a youth hostel available for tourists and hikers. There is also a small church.

The electricity needs for the settlement are provided for by a local power station.

Transportation

The Qassiarsuk area has a relatively extensive network of traversable dirt and gravel roads, totalling over 120 kilometers and requiring DKK 500,000 annually for service. [ 5 ] The longest stretch of road connects the sheep farms of Qassiarsuk with the airport of Narsarsuaq. The roads are generally of poor construction, lacking crossfall for drainage, and using softer sandstone instead of harder granite, creating severe dust problems in the summer. For general transportation all-terrain vehicles are recommended. Crossing the glacial Narsarsuaq river is difficult due to deposits of silt quicksand the river carries from the Greenland ice sheet (Kalaallisut: Sermersuaq ).

All vital transportation at Qassiarsuk is by sea, with boats linking the settlement to Narsarsuaq, home to the only international airport in southern Greenland. The airport primarily functions as a transfer point for passengers heading for the helicopter hubs of Air Greenland in Qaqortoq and Nanortalik. Qassiarsuk does not have its own heliport.


Replica of the church of Tjodhilde

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Qassiarsuk

The settlement is an agricultural destination for hikers and a visible meeting place between Norse culture and modern-day sheep farmers.

A THOUSAND YEARS OF SHEEP FARMING AND AGRICULTURE

One thousand years ago a group of Norsemen, with Eric the Red in the front, sailed into the bay where the settlement Qassiarsuk is located today. According to legend, Eric had such strong emotional ties to the area where he had grown up in Norway that he baptised the place he found, Brattahlíð which means “steep hill”. Before long, he and his companions had established an agricultural community in the fjord.

Farming is still the main occupation in Qassiarsuk and the sheep farmers in the area cultivate the same fields, and let their animals graze in the same river valleys and the same hillsides that the Norsemen used towards the end of the 9th century.

The agriculture of the sheep farms is also about a special feeling of community, and you will experience the strong bonds and the close cooperation between the families living in the settlement and the farms in the countryside.

REMOTE FARMS WITH MODERN CONNECTIONS

Where the gravel roads end around the settlement lie the sheep farms that give new meaning to the word “remote”, and especially in Tasiusaq and Nunataaq, about a day’s hike west of Qassiarsuk, the fields reach down to the edge of the water, in fjords where icebergs from the Ice Cap drift by on their way towards the ocean.

Yet, you will experience that the locals are connected to the internet, watch satellite television and run modern farms adapted for export, send their kids to a well-run school in the settlement and are generally focused on seeing the next generation grow up and get educated, even if this means that the young will have to leave South Greenland for a number of years.


Contents

People have lived in the area for thousands of years, but not continuously. Remains of the Norse settlement can be found in the area. The church ruins of Dyrnæs can be found on the north-western outskirts of the town. The Landnám homestead, Landnamsgaarden, can be found immediately to the west of the town. [2] Dated to the year 1000, the homestead is among the oldest of the Norse ruins in the area. Excavation of the ruins began in 1953 with the discovery of the Narsaq stick, the first Viking Age runic inscription discovered in Greenland. The wider Narsaq area has some of the most striking Norse artefacts and ruins. Erik the Red's Brattahlid is located in present-day Qassiarsuk, and the Gardar bishop seat is in present-day Igaliku.

Present day Narsaq was founded as Nordprøven ("North Prøven") in 1830, [3] distinguishing it from Sydprøven ("South Prøven", modern Alluitsup Paa) established the same year. The initial settlement was founded as a trading colony of Qaqortoq, then named Julianehaab.

A trading center was established here due to the natural deep water harbor which could accommodate ocean faring vessels, . Initially local seal hunters traded blubber and seal skin for continental goods, such as coffee, sugar, bread and buckwheat.

Until approximately 1900 seal hunting formed the main economy for Narsaq. In the early 1900s seal hunting began to fail, and the main basis for the economy gradually shifted to fishing. The city's historical fishing village is from 1914. The main house of the historical village today houses the power company in the city.

Simiutak at the Skovfjord mouth near Narsaq was a HF/DF radio range finding station called Bluie West Three during World War II. The station commenced operations in January 1942, and was permanently manned until the end of the war.

The population also increased during this period, from 25 in 1870, to 162 in 1919, and to 300 in 1930. However the settlement did not experience significant population growth until 1953, when its first prawn and fishing factory of Royal Greenland was established. The factory was subsequently closed in 2010. [4]

In 1959 the population exceeded 600, and Narsaq achieved town status,. [3] With 1,346 inhabitants as of 2020, [1] it is the ninth-largest town in Greenland. Several hundred people live in the surrounding community.

The town is notable for the 1990 Narsaq massacre, a mass shooting where seven people were killed and one was wounded. The shooting was the worst in Greenland's history.

Until December 31, 2008, the town was the administrative center of Narsaq Municipality in the Kitaa amt. In addition to the town, the municipality consisted of the Qassiarsuk, Igaliku and Narsarsuaq settlements, as well as several sheep and reindeer farms. On January 1, 2009, Narsaq became part of Kujalleq municipality, when the Kitaa amt, as well as the municipalities of Narsaq, Qaqortoq, and Nanortalik ceased to exist as administrative entities.


Tjodhildes Church

Peaceful, wonderful with an amazing view - visit Ellen & Carl Frederiksens little youth with a breathtaking view towards the icecap inn South Greenland.

Clean, cosy and private youthhostel

The small, sleepy sheep farming community of Qassiarsuk across the Tunulliarfik Fjord from Narsarsuaq is easily reached by boat and takes no more than 10-15 minutes. Here you will discover some of the most interesting and important Norse remains in Greenland. Qassiarsuk is close to the late 10th century farmstead, Brattahlíð, founded by Eric the Red, the first Viking settlement in Greenland and the first to be established in America by Europeans.

Just above the small pier at Qassiarsuk, the route to Brattahlíð is signposted and is less than 15 minutes walk away. The Saga of Erik the Red refers to his farmstead of Brattahlíð at Eriksfjord. Several archaeological excavations uncovered the foundations of later medieval buildings including a church with a rectangular churchyard containing human remains and a well preserved long house. But in 1961 during the building of a school hostel around 200 m away from the excavated church, several human skulls were unearthed and in 1962 five excavations took place which revealed a small (2 x 3.5 m) church with thin wooden walls banked by layers of turf and a stone floor surrounded by a circular churchyard containing 150 interments. Nine of the skeletons returned radiocarbon dates in the 1000 - 1100/1200 range. There were no later dates and there was very little intercutting of graves suggesting that the cemetery had a relatively short period of use.

According to the Saga, his son, Leif the Lucky, introduced Christianity to Greenland around the year 1000 by order of the Norwegian king, Olav Tryggvason. Erik did not convert to Christianity but his wife, Thojdhild, did and she built a small church which was sited some distance from Erik’s farmstead so as not to antagonise him. Analysis of the skeletons show that few people lived beyond the age of 45 and the bones show signs of hard physical work. This tiny church is believed be the one referred to in Erik the Red’s Saga and probably served as the burial place for the earliest colonists before the larger church was built nearby. The disappearance of the Viking settlements such as Brattahlíð toward the end of the 15th century puzzles historians, but was likely the result of a combination of the climate changes due to the Little Ice Age, Inuit expansion, more convenient ways for Europeans to obtain items such as furs and walrus tusks and competition by the Hanseatic League.

In 2000, to celebrate the millennium of Norse settlement in Greenland, the Icelandic government funded a reconstruction of the excavated long house and Thojdhild’s church complete with period furnishings. For 50 kroner you can visit both of these buildings and a guide who resides in the small red house above the site will appear to take your money and provide an excellent commentary. Thojdhild’s tiny wooden church (2 x 3.5 metres) with a turf roof church is a consecrated Catholic place of worship and can accommodate over 20 people at a squeeze. The long house gives an impressive glimpse of Norse life. At one end is a large loom typical of the type used by the settlers to weave woollen clothing from the wool of their sheep and a hearth occupies the centre of the main room below an open chimney in the roof. The complicated nature of Norse sleeping arrangements is also highlighted, with girls using a chamber accessed by a ladderway in order to preserve their virginity, the chieftain and his wife in a wooden box like structure with a door, and two large wooden sleeping platforms on either side of the main room occupied according to rank and status. Skins line the wooden walling to provide extra insulation and a collection of period woollen clothing and leather footwear is on display, as well as the skin clothing worn by the Inuit. Interestingly, our guide informed us that the Norse never wore skins and there was very limited interaction with the Inuit.

An Inuit turf hut can also be visited nearby which would have been accessed by a long low tunnel to conserve heat and as you return to the pier, don’t forget to visit the commemorative statue of Erik’s son, Leif Erikson, which looks over Qassiarsuk from a small hill. Leif was the first European to make landfall in North America (Vinland) some 500 years before Columbus (explanation panels in Greenlandic, Danish and English).


Tjodhildes Church

Peaceful, wonderful with an amazing view - visit Ellen & Carl Frederiksens little youth with a breathtaking view towards the icecap inn South Greenland.

Clean, cosy and private youthhostel

The small, sleepy sheep farming community of Qassiarsuk across the Tunulliarfik Fjord from Narsarsuaq is easily reached by boat and takes no more than 10-15 minutes. Here you will discover some of the most interesting and important Norse remains in Greenland. Qassiarsuk is close to the late 10th century farmstead, Brattahlíð, founded by Eric the Red, the first Viking settlement in Greenland and the first to be established in America by Europeans.

Just above the small pier at Qassiarsuk, the route to Brattahlíð is signposted and is less than 15 minutes walk away. The Saga of Erik the Red refers to his farmstead of Brattahlíð at Eriksfjord. Several archaeological excavations uncovered the foundations of later medieval buildings including a church with a rectangular churchyard containing human remains and a well preserved long house. But in 1961 during the building of a school hostel around 200 m away from the excavated church, several human skulls were unearthed and in 1962 five excavations took place which revealed a small (2 x 3.5 m) church with thin wooden walls banked by layers of turf and a stone floor surrounded by a circular churchyard containing 150 interments. Nine of the skeletons returned radiocarbon dates in the 1000 - 1100/1200 range. There were no later dates and there was very little intercutting of graves suggesting that the cemetery had a relatively short period of use.

According to the Saga, his son, Leif the Lucky, introduced Christianity to Greenland around the year 1000 by order of the Norwegian king, Olav Tryggvason. Erik did not convert to Christianity but his wife, Thojdhild, did and she built a small church which was sited some distance from Erik’s farmstead so as not to antagonise him. Analysis of the skeletons show that few people lived beyond the age of 45 and the bones show signs of hard physical work. This tiny church is believed be the one referred to in Erik the Red’s Saga and probably served as the burial place for the earliest colonists before the larger church was built nearby. The disappearance of the Viking settlements such as Brattahlíð toward the end of the 15th century puzzles historians, but was likely the result of a combination of the climate changes due to the Little Ice Age, Inuit expansion, more convenient ways for Europeans to obtain items such as furs and walrus tusks and competition by the Hanseatic League.

In 2000, to celebrate the millennium of Norse settlement in Greenland, the Icelandic government funded a reconstruction of the excavated long house and Thojdhild’s church complete with period furnishings. For 50 kroner you can visit both of these buildings and a guide who resides in the small red house above the site will appear to take your money and provide an excellent commentary. Thojdhild’s tiny wooden church (2 x 3.5 metres) with a turf roof church is a consecrated Catholic place of worship and can accommodate over 20 people at a squeeze. The long house gives an impressive glimpse of Norse life. At one end is a large loom typical of the type used by the settlers to weave woollen clothing from the wool of their sheep and a hearth occupies the centre of the main room below an open chimney in the roof. The complicated nature of Norse sleeping arrangements is also highlighted, with girls using a chamber accessed by a ladderway in order to preserve their virginity, the chieftain and his wife in a wooden box like structure with a door, and two large wooden sleeping platforms on either side of the main room occupied according to rank and status. Skins line the wooden walling to provide extra insulation and a collection of period woollen clothing and leather footwear is on display, as well as the skin clothing worn by the Inuit. Interestingly, our guide informed us that the Norse never wore skins and there was very limited interaction with the Inuit.

An Inuit turf hut can also be visited nearby which would have been accessed by a long low tunnel to conserve heat and as you return to the pier, don’t forget to visit the commemorative statue of Erik’s son, Leif Erikson, which looks over Qassiarsuk from a small hill. Leif was the first European to make landfall in North America (Vinland) some 500 years before Columbus (explanation panels in Greenlandic, Danish and English).


Brattahlíð

Brattahlíð, often anglicised as Brattahlid, was Erik the Red&aposs estate in the Eastern Settlement Viking colony he established in south-western Greenland toward the end of the 10th century. Erik and his descendants lived there until late in the 15th century. The name Brattahlíð means &aposthe steep slope&apos. At Brattahlíð stood probably the first church in the New World: Þjóðhildarkirkja (Thjodhild&aposs church, actually a small chapel). A recent reconstruction of this chapel now stands at a distance from the actual site, along with a replica of a Norse longhouse.

At the site of the main church, built after the Norse were converted to Christianity, investigators have found melted fragments of bell-metal, and foundation stones of it and other buildings remained into the 20th century, as did the remnants of a possible forge. This church (not Thjodhild&aposs chapel) measured 12,5x4,5 m and had two entrances, with what was evidently a hearth in the middle. Apparently, fire destroyed it. The church, possibly a 14th-century structure, may have stood on the ruins of an earlier church. The churchyard has tombstones, with a cross cut on one of them. On another stand engraved the runes for &aposIngibjørg&aposs Grave&apos. Today, stones clearly mark the church&aposs outline, though people probably placed them there in recent years visitors can also see the surrounding graveyard.

One farm building nearby measured 53 by 14 m, with stone walls about 1.5 m thick a turf outer bank provided further insulation. Inside, it had a flagstone floor. Flat stones &mdash or, in one case, the shoulder-blade of a whale &mdash formed the stalls. Some of these buildings still stood in 1953, contemporaneous with the Bluie West One airfield at Narsarsuaq, but today they exist mostly as depressions in the ground.

Brattahlíð still has some of the very best farmland in Greenland, owing to its location at the inner end of Eriksfjord, which protects it from the cold foggy weather and arctic waters of the outer coast. It has a youth hostel and a small store. More extensive facilities exist in Narsarsuaq across the fjord.

Brattahlíð hosted the first Greenlandic Þing (parliament), based on the Icelandic Althing. Its exact location remains unknown. The disappearance of the Norse settlements toward the end of the 15th century continues to mystify historians, but probably resulted from a combination of the Little Ice Age&aposs cooling temperatures, soil erosion, abandonment by Norway, more convenient ways for Europeans to procure furs and a mercantile eclipsing by the Hanseatic League, and competition from the Inuit moving southward.


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