Digitization project to document the number of visitors in Tore Hund's kingdom

The self-avenger
The majestic spear on Bjarkøy is a monument in memory of the renowned northern Norwegian Viking Tore Hund. This summer, the attraction is part of the EU project AURORAL, where data is collected to document how many people actually visit the area. The figures can say something about whether there is a market for establishing a new industry in the form of transport services. PHOTO: Øivind Arvola (Harstad municipality)

- Gives us access to completely new information

The Viking chieftain Tore Hund from Bjarkøy outside Harstad is known as the killer of Olav the Holy. Tore Hund's kingdom contains countless cultural monuments and is a sought-after visitor destination, and now we will finally get an answer to how many people actually follow in the chief's 1,000-year-old footsteps.
Nina Dons Hansen
Nina Dons Hansen. Photo: Tonje Nilsen

One of the anniversaries to be celebrated until 2030 will take place in Tore Hund's kingdom in Harstad in 2023. Cultural relics abound on Bjarkøy, and in 2019 it was confirmed that remains of the Viking chieftain's boathouse had been found on the island. The archaeological excavations were carried out by Tromsø Museum and Troms and Finnmark County Council. The findings show that the boathouse was over eight meters high, and that it housed a ship that was larger than both the Oseberg and Gokstad ships.

- This is proof that there was considerable activity and power centered on Bjarkøy during the Viking Age, Nina Dons-Hansen in Harstad municipality told NRK at the time.

Today, Dons-Hansen leads the municipality's jubilee project, which will start next year. Both the local community and the region are involved and engaged, and the project manager is pleased with the developments taking place in Tore Hund's realm.

- The anniversary is an important reason why we are at the very beginning of many things to make more parts of the area available to the general public, she says.

1,000-year-old Viking history in digital format

One way to increase the accessibility of an area is to make the local history known. In the Island Kingdom in the sea gap outside Harstad, there is history in every rock and in every stone, and parts of the 1,000-year-old story are told through modern and digital technology.

The QR code on Bjarkøy. Photo: Mikael af Ekenstam

The new-fashioned storytelling is part of the EU's digitization project AURORAL, where Narvik municipality's business company Futurum has a pilot project running in the Narvik and Harstad region together with Smart Narvik, which is the name of the Nordland municipality's smart city initiative. The pilot project focuses on the themes of tourism and mobility.

In spring, digital tools were put out to help the project and Harstad municipality document how many people visit central parts of Tore Hund's kingdom. A QR code has been hung near the Selshevneren spear, a monument erected on Bjarkøy in memory of the Viking chieftain. By scanning the code with a smartphone, visitors get access to text and images that describe what they see in the area.

As part of AURORAL, a person counter has also been placed which registers everyone who passes.

- It was natural to be positive about being part of this. It is important to support the good regional cooperation between Harstad and Narvik, and it will be exciting to see what we can get out of the figures collected in the project through the people counter and the number of downloads of the QR code, says Nina Dons-Hansen.

Forms the basis for new services

The purpose of AURORAL is to strengthen the districts by developing a digital platform where relevant services to the citizens can be offered.

Program manager in Smart Narvik, Mikael af Ekenstam, says that they have clear hopes for the results and ripple effects of the EU project.

- One of the aims of counting people and obtaining data on behavioral patterns is to obtain a knowledge base that can make it possible to, among other things, design new transport services. In the rural areas, you do not have the same mobility offers as in central areas, and you also often lag behind in digital development. AURORAL will contribute to strengthening the economy in these areas, he says.

They also want to look at the possibilities of getting funding for measures that lead to better tourism experiences and less wear and tear on nature. And so the digital storytelling adds a completely new aspect to the Island Kingdom.

Nina Dons-Hansen believes that the data collection in AURORAL can be a good starting point for many things.

- For example, it provides a basis for further development of what already exists in the area. Among other things, Troms and Finnmark county council is involved in developing a cultural trail. Once it is established, we can expand with both more QR codes and other visitor-friendly measures, points out the project manager in Harstad municipality.

Facts about AURORAL in Narvik

Narvik municipality is a partner in the international project AURORAL, which is part of the research and development program Horizon 2020.

In AURORAL, in the period 2021-2024, we will work on developing and testing how digital platforms can make it easier to live and work in rural areas in various places in Europe.

AURORAL has a total of 25 European partner organizations from 10 countries that participate in the project in various roles.

The Hålogaland region is one of the pilot areas in the project, and the other six pilot areas are located in Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Austria, Italy and Spain.

In Hålogaland, the following five destinations are more:

  • Stetind
  • Tore Hund's kingdom on Bjarkøy
  • Beisfjord memorial grove
  • Fagerensfjellet
  • Rombaksbotn

In addition to the large project group, a local reference group has been put together in Narvik to give input to the pilot project and ensure that we do things that are relevant in view of the local needs. 

The reference group includes representatives from Visit Narvik, Hålogaland Council, Nordland County Council, Midtre Hålogaland Outdoor Recreation Council, Harstad Municipality as well as various tourism and transport companies. In addition, the residents are represented through Skjomen, Beisfjord and Kjøpsvik rural development groups.


Michael of Ekenstam ,
presenter Smart Narvik

Telephone: +47 906 300 82