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OFFBEAT

Town holds breath over 100-year-old package

After a 100-year wait, a town in central Norway will learn on Friday what’s inside the mystery package left behind by a former mayor.

Town holds breath over 100-year-old package
This file image from 1997 shows Sel development chief May-Britt Svastuen holding the mystery package (Photo: Magnus Smidesang Rønningen/NTB)

Speculation is rife about the contents of the three-kilo parcel, sealed and bound in 1912 by the then mayor of Sel, Johan Nygaard, who wrote on the package that it “can be opened in 2012”, newspaper VG reports.

Having kept it to himself for the first few years, Nygaard handed the package to council authorities for safe-keeping in the 1920s.

“We haven’t the faintest idea what’s inside,” said Kjell Voldheim, who works at the Gudbrandsdal Museum where the package is held.

“It’s going to be incredibly exciting. We have fantasized a lot about what it might contain. The council has expressed a desire for it to contain a sheaf of oil shares that could help the municipality,” he told VG.  

Voldheim is one of two people who will open the package on Friday, when the century-old secret will finally be revealed.

The parcel is 40 centimetres long, 28 centimetres wide, and nine centimetres deep – its seal has never been broken.

With successive local administrations choosing to comply with Nygaard’s request, the package survived two world wars before it twice narrowly avoided being discarded during clear-out operations, once in the 1950s and again in the 1980s.  

The package will be opened in Otta, the municipality’s administrative capital, at a time when the town is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Kringen.

In 1612, farmers in the picturesque Gudbrandsdal valley successfully fought off a band of Scottish mercenary soldiers as war raged between Sweden and a joint Danish-Norwegian army.

The fact that Nygaard sealed the package as the region marked the 300th anniversary of that battle could provide a clue as to what’s inside.

“It could be historical documents,” said Kjell Voldheim.

“Or maybe it’s the Blue Star diamond from the Titanic, which sank in 1912,” he joked.

The current mayor of Sel, Dag-Erik Pryhn, admitted he was thrilled at the prospect of finding out about his predecessor’s secret.

“Even the way he delivered it suggests that he himself, at that time, thought it was valuable,” Pryhn told VG.    

Read more about the mystery package on VG.no (in English)

And watch the video (with English subtitles)

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OFFBEAT

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration will need to clear up more than 1,000 trucks worth of stones and rubble it left near the stunning UNESCO world heritage listed Nærøyfjord.

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord
Nærøyfjorden near to where the Norwegian Public Roads Administration left behind more than 11,000 cubic metres of rocks. Photo by Arian Zwegers on Flickr.

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumping are typically associated with rogue tradespeople and cowboy builders, but it’s the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that is being asked to clear some 11,250 cubic metres of rocks it left near a UNESCO listed beauty spot.

The breathtaking Nærøyfjord in Aurland municipality, south-western Norway, is a landscape conservation area meaning its protected and, therefore, the rubble shouldn’t have been left there.

“This is a blister. We will clean up after ourselves,” Stig Berg Thomassen, project manager for the road authority, told NRK.

The rocks were left behind following a project to upgrade the nearby Gudvanga tunnel.

Thomassen said the mess was left in the conservation area because it wasn’t clearly marked as off-limits.

Nærøyfjorden has been listed as a landscape conservation area since 2002, and the site was added to the UNESCO world heritage list a few years later in 2005.

READ ALSO: You can now get married at this famous Norwegian beauty spot

The municipality in Aurland has given the road authority until December 17th to clear the mess. The mayor for the municipality said the road authority would begin to clear up the remnants of its building project as soon as possible.

The stones won’t be going far, though and will only be moved around 50 to 100 metres along the road to where the conservation area ends.

Project manager Thomassen has admitted that the situation could have been avoided with better planning.

“Yes, we should have probably have done that (prepared better). The situation is as it is, so we just have to clean up. It won’t take long to move the rocks. The Stones will only be transported 50 to 100 meters,” he confessed.

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