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Among the Chips of Ice

A Calving Glacier and the Pomors

General Information

About Ymerbukta

Ymerbukta is a bay in the central part of Isfjorden. A six-kilometer-long Esmarkbreen glacier descends here. The bay is often covered with ice, and the views of the calving glacier remain in the memory for a long time. It is also the starting point of skitour expeditions.

The place is also interesting for historical reasons – the Pomors left here their traces.

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More Information

Following the Pomors' Tracks

The Pomors were a Slavic people, mentioned for the first time in the 12th century. Initially, they inhabited the areas of Novgorod and north-west Russia. Because of the climate, they were used to living in difficult conditions. They were connected with the sea, fishing and hunting. They often herded reindeer in tundra areas. In the 18th century, they intensively traded in corn and fish with northern Norway, and these close relations resulted in the creation of a special Russian-Norwegian language - Russenorsk, which was in use until the twenties of the twentieth century.

It is not known exactly when the Pomors arrived in Svalbard, but the traces of their presence in the nineteenth century can be observed to this day. Their homes are easily distinguishable from the homes of Norwegian whalers. The Norwegians primarily built single, small huts, while since the 18th century the Pomors formed spacious houses that could accommodate up to 20 people. The household often included the building itself, a warehouse, a smithy and a sauna. They also had a characteristic way of arranging the wall boards and tongue and groove joints. Unlike whalers, who installed metal furnaces, the Pomors built brick stoves, the remains of which are still visible.

On the western side of Isfjorden there are the remains of four settlements of the Pomors. In Ymerbukta there is one of them. It is located on a moraine, at an altitude of about 4.2 m above sea level, where the remains of three buildings were discovered and about 2,000 everyday objects were found. Two musical instruments are noteworthy - a wooden horn and a box of a Russian three-stringed instrument called "gudok".

In a neighboring Trygghamna bay there are remains of the largest Pomor settlement in Svalbard.

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