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NAVE

NAVE is based in Iceland and creates a base for scientists and scholars of natural history, sociology, archaeology, history and culture in the Vestfjords area. They seek to increase the number of experts working in the Vestfjords area. They also collaborate with institutes in the Vestfjords area and manage a database of these. Their leader works on a marketing project for the Vestfjords area in these fields.

The purpose of this marketing project is to encourage scientists, scholars and other academics to do research projects in the Vestfjords. The tourist industry is also targeted because there will be a chance to connect natural history, environment, archaeology, history, culture and tourism together (a strong EVEHD objective). NAVE will be hosting all data and information about research in these fields and scientists, scholars and academics can look for information and seek facilities there for further research. The Vestfjords will get new jobs opportunities and there will be an increase of people with training & education.

NAVE works in EVEHD, leading on social networking and community-interactive research. They will run the volunteer-engaging action involving ‘Archaeological Excavation’ and heritage reconstruction – possibly of a traditional turf house/ blacksmith forge as was common in Iceland from settlement to 19th century, with design links to a pit house from the Viking age and linked technology is ground sourced heat pumps. NAVE are a key & core partner of GHT (P1) and have been active in ‘Unlocking Hidden Heritage’, ‘European Archaeology Skills Exchange’ & ‘Celebrating Seasons’. Their skills are in project management, including financial control, working with communities and involving communities in interactive research. They develop a LDV TOI in community interactive archaeological surveying, with UK & Cypriot partners. NAVE are also skilled in dissemination, leading on that in the DOI project ‘Green Village’.

NAVE have also been partners in GHT’s current ‘Youth-in-Action’ Multilateral Exchange ‘ From Paint to Pixels’ which looks at recording change of social & cultural landscapes & is strongly community-linked. NAVE are connected to a series of Universities & are well placed to engage communities & involve these Universities, i.e., Iceland Academie, in the process. From their work it is chiefly their archaeology that links them to GHT & especially the common thread of the ‘Viking Age’. The archaeology of this period is also found in the hinterland of GHT and they collaborate together on projects concerning the Vikings – their language, skills, stories, folklore & contribution to contemporary society. NAVE have a common link to the Romanian, Slovakian & German partners through the joint development of curriculum in sustainable building.

 

The Restoration of a holy well is enlisted as Action No.15 Action under the EVEHD Work Programme.

The holy well / sacred water site restoration was a common thread through each of the 6 multilateral, all partner cultural actions. It was also an ongoing process throughout the two years that EVEHD ran. In fact, the purpose was to ‘kick start’ a process that would just keep rolling with local volunteers. I believe we have succeeded in that regard in Germany, UK and Slovakia; in Romania, Iceland and Turkey I am more pessimistic but this needs qualifying a bit.  In Romania the Orthodox Christian church still has enormous power and influence and most if not all holy wells are under the control of monasteries and looked after by monks and nuns – we had some difficulty finding one to work with. In Iceland Gudmundur the Good, the then Bishop of the country, blessed many wells (the ‘Blessed Wells of Iceland’) and we realised that people do not take them too seriously these days (Father John Musther, the English Orthodox priest who led in the wells, would say it’s because they’re Protestants!); we think it would be very difficult to generate a group of volunteers to do this ongoing well maintenance. Again qualification is needed – we looked at 6 holy wells in the process of choosing one to work on – all were on private land and most were cared for by the owner.

 

Here is a potted description of what we achieved with our volunteers:

In the end we worked at Bjarnefjordur near Holmavik for some hours, tidying and cleaning the well, but it was in generally good condition with a
round, solid stone lip, good, safe footpath to it and old but good signage. We really just de-weeded it and smartened it up. The holy spring at Skruður botanical garden is
a bit historically disputed but provided us with two days of very rewarding work and heritage discovery, we weeded the garden, re-planted some species,
cleaned out the water channel and to great applause let water through it for the first time in some years. At a remote farm close to the town of Þingery, we cleaned a properly registered holy well just down the hill from a beautiful little church – the landowner gave us a guided tour. We could not do more than clean out the algae and water weed with rakes because the major job was to remove a huge stone that had rolled down the hill into the well pool, and this was beyond our team of 12 volunteers. We did discover a new Norse longhouse platform close to the well. We are determined to go back to survey this properly and organise a big winch to pull out the stone. We (3 of the EVEHD team) will come back in July 2016 to
do some planning. Throughout the work at the 3 wells we learned the story of the Bishop, who was chastised by the Bishops in Norway and Denmark for blessing
too many wells…. One of which had water so holy, it could be carried in a knitted cap (it is said). We also found out that (in Guðjón Stefán Kristinsson’s own words) most Icelanders believe that elves, dwarves and ghosts are as real as ordinary people’ – and we saw firsthand the interest in witches, magic, old Norse religion. It was explained that it was trying to
stamp all this out that made the Bishop so zealous at blessing wells.