At the southernmost tip of Norway is the mysterious ancient landscape of the Lista Peninsula, frequently hidden beneath a thin veil of ocean mist. I’ve spent many summers here, but a few months ago, I encountered the Lista landscape in late autumn: even more atmospheric then.
Lista through history and beyond
The Lista landscape is packed with dramatic history. The rugged coastline has been shaped through millions of years –
– and people have lived here for at least 4000 years.
Bronze Age rock carvings at Pennefeltet
Not a bad vista our Bronze Age ancestors had here:
View from Pennefeltet
The Piracy Era – legalised robbery
As I’m sure you know, the English have had a few famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) pirates through the ages. Some even had letters of marques from the king, making it legal to hijack Portuguese and Spanish ships. But did you know Norway did the same to England?
In the early 19th century, during the Gunboat War (Britain vs. Denmark-Norway), British ships were fair game. The King’s representative in Southern Norway issued kaperbrev (letters of marque), legalising – perhaps even encouraging – the hijacking of British ships. An estimated 400 British merchant ships were seized.
You may wonder what British ships were doing up here in the first place. Why, looking for trees, of course. British trees simply weren’t tall enough, or sturdy enough, to be used for masts and other materials needed for the war ships.
The hijackers lived in the picturesque villages along the coast here at Lista:
Many Lista locals travelled to the USA in the early 1900s. Short-term emigrants, they returned home after a few years. Some did several stints, some practically commuted between Lista and the USA.
They brought a bit of America with them: there’s Brooklyn Square, a shop called Trunken selling American odds and ends: Mac&Cheese, Peanut butter chocolates, Root Beer, that sort of thing. There’s an American diner as well, with an apartment upstairs furnished in 1950s Brooklyn style. Every June, there’s an American festival, with parades, American cars, eating competitions and other fun stuff.
8th Avenue Bar and Supper Club
Lista lighthouse – windy, weird and wonderful
The weather-beaten Lista landscape has a lighthouse, of course. Now, you know I like unusual sleeps, so I was happy to spend a night here last summer. We stayed in a flat next door and had our own key to the lighthouse to use as we wanted; a windy, weird and wonderful place to explore at midnight.
Views from Lista lighthouse – day and night:
The Lista landscape at Jøllestø
My favourite part of Lista is Jøllestø, a tiny settlement with the characteristic windswept landscape, rough seas –
– and the Expresso Bar, a cafe/library/flotsam museum operated by kids during the summer.
I’ll leave you with a few more images of Jøllestø.
Nature does all the work 🙂
We’ve not been to Norway or anywhere in Scandinavia, but your photos have piqued my interest. Lista looks like a beautiful place to start exploring Norway, although I guess we would have to enter Norway further north?
Depends where you’re arriving from. There’s an airport (and a ferry terminal) in Kristiansand in the south, so if you’re coming from Amsterdam or London or Copenhagen, at least, that’s the nearest entry point.
That’s good to know, thanks Anne.
Lista looks like such a picturesque little village. That little bit of American culture there is completely unexpected. It’s so cool that you had keys to the lighthouse so you could go in whenever you wanted. Now, you’re having me longing to stay there, too.
It’s an experience I’d happily repeat, Michele.
Sophie, I’ve actually been to Lista and found it such a curious, but gorgeous place to visit! Great post!
Well said: curious and gorgeous.
Seems like a close-knit community although I would go just to stay in the lighthouse!
I loved staying there.
I had to consult a map to place Lista and discover that I’ve been in the area several time. Must have been the sickening ferry crossings from Hirtshals to Kristiansand that made me forget the peaceful beauty of the landscape.
Yeah, can be a bit of weather on that crossing.
Lista is new to me – and I think the hijackers were onto something. If you need your American food fix, it seems to be the place to go as well. I’ve only stayed in (beside) a lighthouse once – such a great experience and the landscapes are always in the wild side.
Great hikes to be had in southern Norway too, Leigh.
Beautiful scenery. It’s hard to believe that they high jacked the British ships. That’s a new piece of history for me.
Those beautiful pictures remind me of a visit to a country that’s so beautiful and lovable, Norway.
BTW, Lista has got a very interesting history. Thanks for sharing it.
Happy to hear you enjoyed your visit here 🙂
I LOVE the contrast of the red and orange against the moody dark skies…
There’s definitely something about autumn, brings out colours in a different way than in pretty summer sunshine.