Historic cemetery in Stavanger

As we were strolling through pleasant neighborhoods between tourist attractions in Stavanger, Norway, in May ’07, my wife and I wandered into the Eiganes Gravlund (cemetery).

Despite covering approximately six square blocks, the cemetery has the feel of a small town’s church graveyard. At the time of our visit, flowers were blooming throughout and several townspeople were busy tending the gravesites and flowers. There were a wide variety of trees and even some topiary.

This graveyard, like all of the others we saw in Norway, was incredibly neat and well maintained. There was a number of unique tombstones, including several each with a small stone bird perched on top and looking down onto the vertical face of the stone as if reading the inscription.

Located in the cemetery are Commonwealth war graves from World War II. The various graves and memorials to WWII troops provided insights to events that receive little mention compared to other WWII actions.

One particularly interesting and moving monument concerned a team of British Royal Engineers (“Operation Freshman”) tasked with destroying the Norwegian heavy-water-production facility near Vemork in November 1942. (The heavy-water plant was a critical component of the Nazi effort to develop an atomic bomb.) Several of the British soldiers were killed or injured when their gliders crashed. All of the crash survivors were captured by the German Gestapo, then tortured and executed. As a nuclear engineer, I find this a particularly fascinating chapter of WWII history.

The Eiganes Gravlund is located about a 10-minute walk southwest of the popular Gamle (old) Stavanger area and is just northwest of two other Stavanger tourist attractions, Breidablikk and Ledaal. It sits on high ground surrounded by quiet and picturesque neighborhoods.

The cemetery is not mentioned on the city’s website or in any of the guidebooks or tourist information that I’ve found, but it is shown on the useful city map that’s available for free from the local tourist office. That map can also be downloaded from the city’s website, www.regionstavanger.com.


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