Saturday, 5 July 2014

I have been to … Tórshavn Large Fort, Faroe Islands

During our recent cruise to Tórshavn we had the opportunity to visit the small fort that was built in the 1630s after a raid by Turkish pirates on Tórshavn. The location selected was the promontory known as Stangarnes, and the fort was one of several built to protect the town from future attacks.

The fort was known as Stóri Skansi (Large Fort), and it was armed with four bronze cannons. The original fort was rebuilt in the 1780s and was garrisoned by 35 to 40 soldiers. It remained a military post until 1865, at which point it was dismantled and the garrison became the local police force.

The Stóri Skansi from the landside.
The Stóri Skansi from the sea.
The Stóri Skansi from above.
We approached the fort up a long slope …

… and then turned left to walk around the lower level of the fort.

We entered the lower level of the fortress via an open gateway …

… where we saw a small stone-built building with a turf roof.

We then made our way around the walls …

… and along the side of the fort facing the sea.

Atop the upper level of the fort is a small lighthouse.

We then made our way up to the upper level of the fort via another gateway.

Four bronze cannons dating from the 1750s were on display on the seaward rampart of the upper level of the fort.

From the upper level we could see two much newer artillery pieces on the lowest level of the fort.

We then made our way down to these guns in order to examine them in greater detail.

Closer examination of one of these two guns showed that it was a 5.5-inch 50 calibre Breech-loading gun that was built by the Coventry Ordnance Works (COW) in 1916.

It is likely – therefore – that they were built to be the secondary armament of HMS Hood or the main armament of the cruisers HMS Chester or HMS Birkenhead, and were installed during the Allied occupation of the Faroe Islands during the Second World War.


  1. Most interesting post.Do you have anymore info re the Turkish pirates?
    p.s I forgot to say I have been thoroughly enjoying all the recent cruise posts.

  2. Tradgardmastare (Alan),

    I am very pleased to hear that you are enjoying my recent cruise posts. I hope to write several more before the end of 2013.

    I could not find anything out about the so-called 'Turks' (I got the information from a local guidebook) but I suspect that they were probably Barbary Pirates on the hunt for potential slaves and valuables. They certainly raided the French and English coasts during that period, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they went further north in their quest for booty.

    Could this enquiry be a precursor to a possible Tradgardland vs. Barbary Pirates clash? I do hope so!

    All the best,


  3. Sweden was at war with Tripoli around 1800 and joined in with the US in the blockade so this sounds quite reasonable.

  4. Nigel Drury,

    I never knew that!

    I knew that the Barbary Pirate raids affected most European maritime nations ... but never quite how serious the problem was.

    All the best,