The Bird Keepers
The unique tradition of tending eider ducks is one of the reasons the Vega Archipelago was given the World Heritage status. This is an old tradition with roots from the early 9th century, which is still maintained today. The local people build shelters and nests for the wild eiders, which return to the islands each spring. They protect the birds from any unnecessary disturbance throughout the breeding season. In return, the eider ducks leave down for the locals to gather at the end of the season.
A Tribute to the Women
Women had a key role in the tending of eider ducks, and the World Heritage property of the Vega Archipelago is also a celebration of their contribution. While the men made a living as fishermen, the women tended the eider ducks and took care of the eider down which was purified and turned into a unique and expensive export from Norway to Europe.
Cleansing of the Down
There is no duvet filling as light and provide as much heat like the eider down. The down is mainly purified by machinery, however, the bird keepers on Helgeland still do it by hand. The job is very time consuming. One kg down takes about two weeks to cleanse, which includes coarse and fine cleanse, shaking and drying of the down.
Experience the World Heritage
Since most of the World Heritage is at sea and the bird life is vulnerable to human disturbance, a museum is established. The eider duck museum, also called E-house museum, is located at Nes on Vega in an old pier. The museum documents the unique tradition of tending eider ducks. They also offer local handcraft, litterateur and pictures of Vega. Not far from the museum you will find the World Heritage exhibition. This is an exhibition free of charge which conveys the World Heritage through pictures and words.
In the same building Lille Lånan is located, an exhibition who conveys the history of Lånan – the largest down village of the Vega Archipelago. They also sell eider down duvets, books and handcraft products.
Boat Trips From Vega to Lånan
In the summer season Visit Vega arranges boat trips to Lånan twice a week. The boat runs from Nes (Vega) at 14.30 each Tuesday and Friday in the month of July. At Lånan you will be greeted by the bird keepers, which will take you along on a history walk in the kingdom of the eider ducks. The walk ends with serving of food and coffee at the Barn- a picture exhibition and museum. The trip takes about four hours. Book online at Vega tourist information, or by telephone (+47) 75 03 53 88.
NB! Visitors arriving in their own boats are requested to take special considerations in the nesting season (15th of April to the 31st of July) by keeping low speed near land and between the islands. The bird and animal life, including nesting sites, are protected against damage, destruction and unnecessary disturbance.
Dogs are not allowed on the Vega Archipelago in the nesting season. Use of leash is required by law from the 1th of April to the 1th of October.