A treasure chest filled with culture
Beautiful Seljord in Upper-Telemark is a treasure chest just waiting to be opened. Visitors will find wild flowers growing on grass covered roofs, and children who still sing the songs their great-grandfathers sang. Did you know that “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” was the first written down by two Norwegians named Asbjørnsen and Moe? They travelled often to Anne Golid’s cabin in Seljord to hear her stories, which they included in their folk tale collections that are known around the world. The Reverend Magnus Brostrup Landstand, and Miss Olea Crøger hiked through the mountains and forests of Seljord collecting folk songs that we still hear today in Norwegian churches and in Norway’s thriving folk music movement.
A living heritage
Contemporary artists, author and musicians are bringing Seljord’s cultural heritage into the 21st century. New generators continue to find inspirations in Seljord’s local culture and history. “ Seljordspel” summer theatre based on local history attracts a large audience every year rain or shine. Young people from eastern and western Norway meet every year for a national folk dance and music competition. “Sommerutstillinga” is an important art show that attracts professional artists from all over Norway. There are also many private galleries in Seljord representing the best in modern Norwegian art. But you won’t only find art in the galleries, sculptures placed from one end of the village to another turn Seljord into a veritable sculpture park.
Dyrsku`n – The Agricultural Fair- a modern folk tale
If anything shows community spirit in Seljord it is the agricultural fair which has been arranged for 130 years. Seljord plays host to more than 60,000 visitors for three days in September. You will have to look pretty hard to find another festival like ours this far north!
The fair grounds (over 30 acres ) are fully equipped with all modern facilities. It is a popular place for all kind of activities, from national folk music competitions to the World Cup in Icelandic Equestrian Events (1997).
Community spirit is part of Seljord`s living heritage. Granvin Civic Centre includes both a sports hall and theatre of the highest professional standards. The centre was build and funded almost entirely by community volunteers. Community spirit stretches out to the border of Seljord, where visitors will also find small community centres built by families living in the area. “Kunstlåven” – a restored barn, is Seljord Art Association’s exiting and unusual art gallery. This is the site for “sommarutstillinga” which attracts artists and art enthusiasts every July and August. It is also the home for Seljord`s lake serpent exhibit and the tourist office. Seljord Art Association’s Painters Club and other private galleries have exhibits throughout the summer. Come to Seljord this summer for an art experience – gallery listings will be posted at the Tourist Information Office.
Seljord is the –ideal place for an active vacation. Seljord Sports Club has turned “Eventyrøy” into an idyllic and modern sports park. Flatdal also has a sport s park with tennis courts and soccer fields. Seljord Lake invites you to boat and swim. It doesn’t take long to find a little cove all for yourself.
Go for a hike
Seljord is a paradise for all levels, whether you want to fill your kettle with water from Grunn Creek or enjoy the view from Skrove. Over 90 km of well marked trails proved nature seekers with challenged and beautiful experiences both summer and winter.
The sea serpent-and historical walking in Seljord.
Take a walk to the art installations "into the landscape" around the Lake Seljord, and look for The Sea Serpent:
Foto: Dag Jenssen
- Grindekeiv on Manheimstrondi (R36). Around an houer steeply walking. Park your car at Sanden camping and follow the marked stairs.
- Telnesøyane: This viwing point is located on the edge of Telnes islands. Approximately 15 min walk. Park your car at Telnes camping. This is a nice place to g fishing, and do some barbecuing.
- Vebekkdalen at Garvikstrondi, near the road. Here you will have the opportunity to use the sauna.
- The Sea Serpent tower is a high point by the lake Seljord. With its 17 meters airy construction it offers an amazing view over the lake, and the tower is a great lookout for scouting after the sea serpent. The footpath to the tower is built on stilts with benches along the sides.
You can by a hiker’s map and find advice on where to hike at the Tourist Information Office, or the Cultural Affairs Bucht.
The sea-serpent in Seljord Lake
by Peter Fjågesund
In the middle of Telemark, the county which has always been associated with fairytales, folk songs, imagination and creativity, lies Seljord Lake, brooding over its great secret. What is actually hidden under that blue and friendly sheet of water?
For 250 years, and probably even longer, people have claimed to see a large and sepent-like creature in the lake. The first written documentation goes back to 1750. Then a certain Gunleik Anderson Verpe from Bø rowed a removal load, with one boat in tow, from Ulvenes til Nes, at the south-eastern end of the lake. When he was at the middle of the lake a sea-serpent appeared, which attacked one of the two rowing boats and overturned it. How Gunleik Andersson Verpe fared is not known. a Few decades later, in his book "An Account of Seljord Parish in Upper Telemark in Norway (1786), the local parson Hans Jacob Wille also describes a strange creature. Hee does not specify the size og the animal, but it is "very peculiar, and one of the most poisonous of all. It moves under teh surface lika an eel, and some years ago it bit a man in his big toe whilw ha was wading across the Laxhøl River". Since then several people have claimed to hit the sea-serpent while rowing on the lake, wherea others claimed to have seen a large animal sliding down from the rocks at the water`s edge and into the lake. Soem compare its head to that of a crocodile, some to that of a horse or an elk, while the estimated length varies from about ten to more than a hundred feet. Regardless of this there is a considerable number of observations; on average several each summer. Not least during the last few decades there has been several observations, and nearly always during the warmest summer period.
However, sea-serpents are not a phenomenon confined to Seljord alone. They have been observed virtually all over the world, and over the centuries both large and mysterious creatures have been seen along the Norwegian coast. As a matter of fact, this coastal strip is particulary rich in observations, even in global terms. Olaus magnus (sixteenth century), Erik Pontoppidan the younger (eighteenth century) and many others have offered both dramatic and detailed accounts of what the various creatures looked like. Not least from the nineteenth century there are many observations, whereas from the twentieth century there are relatively few. There are also interesting accounts from several freshwater lakes in various parts of the country, but today it is primarily in the Seljord Lake that people observe strange movements int the water.
All these observations raise a number of questions; How likely it is that the Seljord Lake contains a serpent-like creature? How many such an animal have found its way there? And is the Seljord lake in any way different from other lakes of the same size?
Some basic information about the lake does not seem to provide any answers; it is roughly fifteen kilometers long nearly two kilometers at the broadest. The greatest depth is around 150 meters, whereas the average depth is between 50 and 75. In a Norwegian context the Seljord Lake is thus relatively shallow. Furthermore, its altitude is 116 meters above sea level, an it lies about 70 kilometers from the coast. The rock formations in the area are about 1,000 million years old, and consist generally of quartzite, which provide a rather poor soil and water of a low nutritional value. The scientific verdict ir clear; there is no way in which the Seljord Lake could possibly contain a sea-serpent (assuming such a creature exists). There are two main reasons for this; first, the lake is much too small to provide enough food for an animal, and preferably a group of animals, of a lenth of thirty og fifty feet. All research on the relationship between the size of animals and the size of their home range or territory indicates that the Seljord Lake would be far too small for a large sea-serpent. second, about 10,000 years ago there was no Seljord Lake, because it was completely filled with ice. The ocean at that time reached the Øvrebømoenm at the present south-eastern end of the lake, but it is unlikely that it has ever entered the lake itself.
Despite these rather decisive argument against there being a sea-serpent in the Seljord Lake, both local people and visitors continue to observe inexplicable phenomena in the water, and the attention has not diminished since the international expedition in the summer of 1998, when Discovery Channel bought exclusive rights to cover the search for the monster. Some may have expected the expedition to make a sensational discovery. That did not happen. But the analyses from the registrations that were made with the advanced technical equipment used by the expedition are now available, and they do contain more than enough to keep the mystery alive, at least for those who belive....
SKARSVEGEN from Svartdal to Åmotsdal is a nice place for a cultural historic walk troug beautiful scenery.
This is a nice walk to the plac where the air balloon "La Ville dÒrleans" from Paris landed in 1870. You can find maps and more information at www.seljordportalen.no
Easy circuit that makes a good walk to do with children. Hanakamjuvet occupies a stunning location in the Kivledalen valley above Seljord villagwe centre, and is popular for recreation activities both summer and winter.