Ytre Møkkalasset Lighthouse – weird name and history
Ytre Møkkalasset Lighthouse (also called Tvedestand Lighthouse) stands on a lonely skerry between Kilsund and Kalvøysund in Arendal. Arendal is in Aust-Adger County on the Skagerrak coast.
It was built in 1888, automated in 1946, and abandoned in 1986. The lighthouse served as a guide light and was established at the request of Tverdalsøens Sømandsforening.
It stands 56.4 feet (17.2 meters) tall, but only 56.1 feet (17.1 meters) above the high tide mark – meaning that the high tide covers the bottom.
The lighthouse is still owned by the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA), but not used in any context. Møkkalasset perfectly illustrates the problems associated with such valuable technical heritage. Here is a large building, extremely costly to maintain and preserve, especially because of the exposure to weather. Since 1986 the lighthouse has been neglected, with only minor maintenance. The lighthouse was, however, listed in 1997 by the Cultural Heritage Act.
This was the first cast iron tower in Aust-Agder. The lighthouse is a rare example of a low cast iron tower with marginal living conditions. It has a 15-meter-high cast iron tower located on a 3-meter-high stone plinth. It was furnished with a small kitchen and two small rooms in the stone base, with a oil and water tank. On its small rock, there was no room for any family housing, so the keeper’s house was set up in Brårvikkilen on Flostaøya.
In 1945 the tower was damaged by the attacks of allied aircraft. Both the tower and lantern were repaired in 1946 , but the lighthouse was automated and eventually deserted and an acetylene torch beacon was installed. The lighthouse was extinguished and closed in 1986.
Native Norwegian don’t have to be told that Møkkalasset is not exactly a flattering name. Literal translation: load of shit. The name comes from the islet the lighthouse is built on.
The most well-known explanation for the name is a legend that goes like this: A farmer was going from Borøya to Tromøya with a sleigh filled with manure. This was winter, and he decided to take the sleigh over the ice. But the ice cracked and they went down next to the islet – hence the name Møkkalasset (load of shit). The farmer drowned by the islet Bonden (farmer) and the man that was with him drowned by the seamark that carries his name, Per Larssen. The horses drowned by Rosbåen (Ros is an old norwegian name for horse).
Arendal is and has for a very long time been an important port for shipping. As a result, there are several other important lighthouses in Arendal Municipality.
What is a Skerry?
A skerry is a small rocky island, usually defined to be too small for habitation. It may simply be a rocky reef. The term skerry is derived from the Old Norse sker, which means a rock in the sea. Some skerries might not be visible during high tide, and are of great danger to ships – similar to icebergs.
Skerries are most commonly formed at the outlet of fjords where submerged glacially-formed valleys at right angles to the coast join with other cross valleys in a complex array. In some places near the seaward margins of fjorded areas, the ice-scoured channels are so numerous and varied in direction that the rocky coast is divided into thousands of island blocks, some large and mountainous while others merely rocky points or rock reefs, menacing navigation.