Lighthouses at the Westcoast

Lighthouses at the Westcoast

Along the North Jutland coastline you will find some of Denmark’s most famous lighthouses. The Danish lighthouse was established in 1560 by King Frederik 2. At that time it was dangerous for seafarers to sail, when it got dark, or it was cloudy. Only on starry nights could they safely navigate the stars, avoiding dangerous areas. Many ships therefore sank on the coast, as you can read in the article about Strandingsmuseet on page 52. The first three lighthouses were not buildt like the ones we know today. It was just an iron barrel with a bonfire that lit up at night from a high point in the landscape. In 1627, Denmark’s first tilting lighthouse was built in Skagen. When the lighthouse was lit and hoisted up to the top, the flames could be seen at a distance of 10 nautical miles at normal visibility. Whereas the bonfire could only be seen from 2.5-3 nautical miles. More and more coastal towns now established  lighthouses.

Today, seamen navigate mainly by using computer programs and GPS. But the fantastic lighthouses along the West Coast are still a help to the sailors, who still can find their position at the dangerous coastlines and reefs with the help of the lighthouses. The lighthouses you see along the coast today are established within the last 100-200 years. With their massive bodies, they stand iconically along the shore that treacherously lured so many sailors to their deaths. If you read a little further, you will learn about the most famous lighthouses in North Jutland.

The White Lighthouse in Skagen
In 1747 Skagen’s dilapidated tilting lighthouse was replaced by Det hvide fyr - which is Denmark’s oldest foundation - a walled lighthouse. It is 21 m high. The lighthouse was originally bricked in red brick, but was whitewashed in the early 18th century. The fire was lit by means of a pan with burning coals. In 1835 the lighthouse had dishes fitted, and rapeseed oil replaced the coals. The Gray Lighthouse was built in the 1850s and the White Lighthouse was then simply used as a signal station.

The Gray Lighthouse in Skagen
The Gray Lighthouse was inaugurated in 1858. It took 4 years to build the lighthouse, and it cost 200,000 rigsdaler. The lighthouse is 46 meters high - Denmark’s second highest. Dueodde Lighthouse on Bornholm is one meter higher. The light from the lighthouse could be seen at a distance of 20 nautical miles - every four seconds. The lighthouse can be seen from both Skagerrak and Kattegat. The spiral staircase in the tower is built with 210 steps. From the top of the lighthouse you can see the whole of Skagen and Grenen.

Hirtshals Fyr
Hirtshals Lighthouse is located on top of Stenbjerg. The lighthouse was inaugurated in 1863 and was built under Frederik VII. Hirtshals Lighthouse is 35 meters high, but the center of the lamp is 57 meters above sea level. In clear weather the bright light can be seen up to 25 nautical miles from land. The lenses are handsharpened and it takes a good six hours to polish them.

Lodbjerg Lighthouse
Lodbjerg Lighthouse was built in 1883. The lighthouse is 35 m high and a little bit crooked, while during World War II an attempt where made  to dig a tunnel from the lighthouse to a bunker at the back of the lighthouse. It went wrong. In clear weather the view from the lighthouse is magnificent. Lodbjerg Lighthouse was restored in 2019 and has an interesting exhibition that tells the history of the lighthouse from the beginning of construction until today.

Rubjerg Knude Fyr
Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was built in the year 1900. Between 1910-1920 sand was building up between the sea and the lighthouse, and the area was planted in an attempt to dampen the sand drift. But the dune grew anyway because the sand just landed on top of the plants instead. In the 1950s, the plants had to be removed, and large amounts of sand dug away, as the dune got too close to the buildings. Eventually the dunes became so high, that they blocked the light of the lighthouse. The light on Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was lit for the last time on 1 August 1968. Throughout the 1970s the lighthouse stood empty, but then plans to create a museum at Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse became a reality. In 1980 Vendsyssel Historical Museum opened the doors to a new sand escape museum. The museum, that was to tell the story of the lighthouse, Rubjerg Knude and man’s struggle against the forces of nature, was buried in sand after just 12 years. The dunes slowly engulfed the buildings. In 2002 the museum was closed and moved. But the story of the lighthouse does not end here. The sea began to eat more and more into the dune, and the Lighthouse was now approaching the edge of the cliff.

Then we just move the lighthouse
A local mason Kjeld Pedersen with his own company and one employee - himself - had a good idea. How about re-scuing the lighthouse and move it inland - before the sea takes it? Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was to be moved 70 meters  - away from the cliff that would have been the death of the lighthouse. DKK 5 million was granted by the Folketing to carry out the move. The lighthouse was put on roller skates - and after 14 months of planning and preparation - it was placed on some huge rails, that led to the place, that was to become the lighthouse’s new home. The work begame and the 700-tonne lighthouse was moved at a speed of 12 meters per hour. Everything went perfectly according to plan. Now the lighthouse is safe for the next 20-30 years - further inland - and if necessary - it can probably be moved again. And the master mason - he was knighted by H.M. The queen ...

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