Archive for February, 2012
Lost at Sea memorials are found along the coasts of every nation on earth where the oceans batter their shores. One of the joys of writing this blog is the discovery of a memorial in a place new to me. Such was the experience with this post.
Porkeri is a village in the Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. It is located where the Norwegian Sea meets the greater North Atlantic, approximately equal distance from Scotland and Greenland.
The village of Porkeri dates back to at least the 14th century. Today it has a population of slightly over 300. The local church dates from 1847 and is greatly constructed from material donated by seamen who survived lethal storms on the sea – a tradition known as almissu, to donate to God if they got home alive. It makes me think of the words of Joseph Conrad from “Youth”:
“I see it always from a small boat – not a light, not a stir, not a sound. We conversed in low whispers, as if afraid to wake up the land…. It is all in that moment when I opened my young eyes on it. I came upon it from a tussle with the sea.”
The Lost at Sea memorial in Porkeri contains the names of 65 local seamen who were lost forever to the cold waters of the North Atlantic. The first name dates from 1808. Names have been added in the ensuing two centuries. No doubt more names will be added in the decades and centuries to come – and one has to wonder about the countless unknown souls lost in the centuries before the first record was retained permanently from 1808…