Stone pits at Arnøy
On the island of Árdni in the municipality of Skjervøy, there are many traces of settlements dating back to the Stone Age. There is an unusual amount of cultural heritage, with over 450 turfts from the stone age, 400 “hellegrops”, 20 turfts after boathouses and around 10 to 20 graves.
A hellegrop is a pit lined with flat stones, and they are commonly found by the coast in northern Troms and Finnmark in Norway. From 2-4 metres long, 1-2 metres across and 0,3-1 metre deep, they were used for the extraction of oil from whale and seal blubber. The 15th largest island in Norway, Arnøy, have around 400 of them.
As an island surrounded by fjords full of fish, Arnøy has always had a strong focus towards the maritime, with fishing and catching mammals such as seals and whales.
In 2008 and 2009, archaeologist Gørill Nilsen from the University of Tromsø succeeded in reconstructing this traditional method. The most successful attempt produced 20 litres of oil from 30 kilos of seal blubber. Whale blubber had a lower yield.