Bremstein is situated about 13 nautical miles (17 km) southwest of Vega, on the edge of the open ocean. It used to be the largest fishing settlement in the Vega archipelago. Following some decades of inactivity on the fish-landing quay and in the shacks, all the buildings that remain at Bremstein have now been restored by Vega Archipelago Park. Please contact the Vega Tourist Information Office (Vega Turistinformasjon) for information on overnight accommodation in refurbished fishermen’s shacks.
History of the settlement
Many generations of fishermen from Vega have fished the waters around Bremstein. They lived in shacks on the islets of Sørholmen and Nordholmen and hung their catch to dry on timber frames before the fish-landing quay and warehouse were built in 1917. There was also a cod liver oil processing plant.
Work began in 1908 to construct a better harbour, and two breakwaters were completed in 1921. Fishermen continued to use Bremstein as a base for more than 40 years after the last inhabitants left in 1923, and the harbour is still used by fishermen taking breaks from fishing saithe, cod and monkfish.
Bremstein was inhabited in the 17th century. The people lived on the islet of Heimlandet. The children had to attend school as far away as Vega, travelling in open boats. When the last families abandoned Bremstein, they pulled down their houses, byres and boathouses, or took them with them. The chapel was moved to Vega in 1956.
Bremstein Lighthouse, on Geitøya an islet in the Steinan group, about 4 km southwest av Bremstein, was built in 1925 along with a house for the keeper and his assistants, and a boathouse. These remain standing and are now protected. The Norwegian Coastal Administration, along with a local group comprised of Nordland County Council, the Vega Archipelago World Heritage Foundation and Vega Borough Council, plans to refurbish the buildings.
Vegetation and bird life
Because Bremstein is exposed to salt spray, the vegetation is very sparse and there are few species. In common with the other islands in the archipelago, the flora includes rare aquatic and bog plants, which are dispersed by birds.
In addition to common eiders, several species of gulls and also black guillemots nest here. The tending of eiders is now being resumed.
Please show consideration for plants and birds when you are walking around. Keep to marked paths and tracks. Remember never to light a fire, stove or grill, except on the beach. Please take your litter with you.
Photo: Rita Johansen