By Corey Sandler
The small town of Brønnøysund, population about 5,000, sits just below the Arctic Circle.
It has managed to hold on to an economy based around fishing in the open sea and in many fish farms, agriculture, the largest limestone mine in northern Europe, and our guests and most of the readers of this blog: tourists.
It also is home to the Fort Knox or the Tower of London of Norwegian government documents, the Registry. Marriage licenses, birth certificates, divorce decrees, tax filings: the essential detritis of society.
Bronnoysund is about 75 miles below the Arctic Circle, which means there is a short period of twilight between about 1 and 4 in the morning on the day of our visit. But not to worry: they have lights inside the Registry.
About 9 miles of 14 kilometers south of town, on the island of Torget, is Torghatten Mountain—Square Hat Mountain. That name for the place that rises like a colossal castle of sheer granite is apt. But the fact is that most people will remember Torghatten as the “one with the hole in it.”
The hole is a tunnel about 160 meters or 520 feet long and 20 meters or 66 feet wide. There are trails that lead to it, but most visitors see Torghatten from ships approaching or departing town.
According to legend, the hole was made by the troll Hestmannen while he was chasing the beautiful girl Lekamøya. When the troll realized he would not get the girl, he released an arrow to kill her, which is certainly not appropriate.
In any case, the story says the troll-king of Sømna threw his hat into the path of the arrow path to save her. The hat turned into the mountain with a hole in the middle.
If you don’t buy the story about the troll and the girl and the arrow, scientists say the hole was formed during the Scandinavian ice age, about 11,000 B.C.E. Ice and water eroded looser rocks, while the harder ones in the mountain top resisted erosion.
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