Gjesvær the Fishing Village

Vikings, war and trivia

The first people to settle Gjesvær did it some 6000 years ago. The coastline with small islands breaking the arctic waves provided a natural and safe harbour for fishing.

Gjesvær is mentioned in Snorre Sturlason’s Heimskringla (1225) as the first landing site from the north. In 1026, returning from a raid in Russia, Tore Hund killed fellow Viking Karle in Gjesvær. In 1030, Tore Hund lethally wounded Norwegian king Olav Haraldsson at Stiklestad. Both killings were part of a revenge for the murder of Tore Hund’s nephew Asbjørn Selsbane in 1024.

The name Gjesvær has its origin in an extinct bird, the Great Auk. In Norwegian: Geirfugl. The last Geirfugl is believed to have been seen in Vardø, in eastern Finnmark, in the 19th century.

The final stages of World War II proved disastrous for Gjesvær when German troops pulled out of the area. The whole community was burned to the ground in the autumn of 1944. Already in the summer of 1945 some of the people came back and started to rebuild Gjesvær.

Until 1976 the people of Gjesvær travelled by boat. Then the construction of the road between Honningsvåg and Gjesvær was finished and the automobile became the most important means of transportation.

Today, 130 individuals live in Gjesvær.