Refsvikhula Cave, Kollhellaren

Useful Information

Location: Revsvika, Island of Moskenesøy, Lofoten. 30 min walk fron Refsvika.
Open: no restrictions
Fee: free
Classification: Speleologysea cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: none, not necessary.
Dimension: L=115 m, H=50 m, W=12 m.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Fargebrosjyre om Refsvikhula
Footsteps in the north. A Guide to the History of North Norway and Namdalen.
Address: Fiskeværsferie, Lofoten, Turistkontoret i Flakstad and Moskenes, N-8392 Sørvågen, Lofoten, Tel: +47-76091599, Fax: +47-76092425, Email: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Refsvikhula lies near Revsvika near the southern end of the Lofoten island Moskenesøy. The road ends in Tind, several kilometers to the north and on the other, the eastern side of the island. Refsvik is an fishing village, abandoned in the 1950s. It can be accessed by two ways: on land, following a footpath from Tind. On sea, using one of the several boat rides around the island. From Reine or Moskenes through the famous Maelstrom Moskstraumen or from Flakstad along the west coast. The boat rides include the tour through the cave.

The cave above Revsvika, called Kollhellaren by the residents, was known for a long time, but they never noticed the figures on the cave walls. The children used to play here, and if the weather was stormy during the summer, the cows seeked shelter here. Consequently, the women often sat in Kollhellaren Cave milking their cows.

In the mid 1980s a group of archaeology students were in Refsvika, working on an assignment for the Economic Maps Department. They discovered the most impressing feature of this cave, the enigmatic cave paintings of matchstick men, more than 3000 years old.

The drawings are painted with a red powder, probably from the iron oxide that can be found in the cave. At three different places in the cave 21 red matchstick men, about 30-40 cm tall, can be found.

Similar finds at several different places may be a sign of strong religious bonds in the area. In the cave known as Helvete (hell) on the islet of Trenyken in Røst, similar painted figures have been found. Eight drawings of human forms were found in a large cave at Sanden in Værøy.

The cave entrance looks to the north, so in mid-summer the Midnight Sun fills the cave with light. The matchstick men are located where the cave branches off in three directions, in the darkest parts.