The Struve Column (Meridian Monument) in Hammerfest – History of the Meridian Arch

Meridian. Struve, Hammerfest, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar

Even in the most remote places in Northern Norway, we discover places that are of international importance. And so we even find a small spot on the edge of an industrial area that belongs to the Unesco World Heritage.

The Struve Column (Meridian Monument) in Hammerfest – History of the Meridian Arch

Hammerfest is the northernmost city in Europe, at least officially. Most people live here from natural gas and oil production. And tourists are drawn to the city when they dock with the Hurtigruten in Hammerfest on the island of Kvaløya. And yet, what many do not know, Hammerfest has a special feature that has even made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Struve Column, or Meridian Monument. This is located somewhat away from the small town, and it tells a piece of the history of earth surveying. Here we learn something from the Struve Arch or Meridian Arch.

The Struve Arch / Meridian-Arch

But what about the Struve arch or Meridian arch in Hammerfest? Hammerfest is in one of the most remote places in Northern Europe.

The Struve arch is an example of early scientific and international collaboration. And this from a time in which the mail was transported by sailboat or horse-drawn carriage, and so the transmission of messages could often take many weeks or even months. In addition, in an environment in which the weather can strike terribly in the winter months, with deep frosts down to minus 40 degrees, with storms of days beyond wind force 10 and with meter-high snow.

Maps were created through elaborate measurements using stars and manually set measuring points. Now new maps were needed. And you needed clear definitions of national borders. In this case, the French general Napoleon is to blame. After Napoleon’s defeat, the famous Congress in Vienna followed, at which it was decided to set internationally binding borders in Europe.

One of the main donors for this project was the Russian Tsar Alexander I.

A trip to Hammerfest was like a dangerous expedition. It is here in Fulgenes, a small peninsula in the city of Hammerfest, that the northernmost and first measuring point of a scientific earth survey project was set.

After the astronomer and mathematician Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve played a key role in establishing the Russian Geographic Society in 1845, he was able to measure the line between Northern and Eastern Europe. And so he won another astronomer and geodesist, Carl Tenner, with whom he launched this project.

With the help of angle measurements by stringing together triangles, also called triangulation, a network of 2821.833 km in length was created in a north-south direction. A total of 258 main triangles formed 265 survey points.

These range from Hammerfest in Northern Norway to the Black Sea. There are four such measuring points in Norway alone. All measuring points of the Meridian-Bogen / Struve-Bogen in Norway are located in Finnmark, as is Hammerfest. The project was completed in 1855.

The measuring points of the Struve-Bogen / Meridian-Bogen in Finnmark

  • Fuglenes (70° 40′ 12″ N, 23° 39′ 48″ O, Hammerfest)
  • Lille-Raipas (69° 56′ 19″ N, 23° 21′ 37″ O, Unna Ráipásaš; Alta)
  • Lodiken (69° 39′ 52″ N, 23° 36′ 8″ O, Luvdiidcohkka; Kautokeino)
  • Baelljasvarri (69° 1′ 43″ N, 23° 18′ 19″ O, Bealjášvárri; Kautokeino)

After the astronomer and mathematician Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve played a key role in establishing the Russian Geographic Society in 1845, he was able to measure the line between Northern and Eastern Europe. And so he won another astronomer and geodesist, Carl Tenner, with whom he launched this project.

With the help of angle measurements by stringing together triangles, also called triangulation, a network of 2821,833 km in length was created in a north-south direction. A total of 258 main triangles formed 265 survey points.

These range from Hammerfest in Northern Norway to the Black Sea. There are four such measuring points in Norway alone. All measuring points of the Meridian-Bogen / Struve-Bogen in Norway are located in Finnmark, as is Hammerfest. The project was completed in 1855.

The measuring points of the Struve-Bogen / Meridian-Bogen in Finnmark

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