Tórshavn Cathedral is the second oldest existing church of the Faroe Islands. Painted white, and roofed with slate, it was erected in 1788. Since 1990 it has been the seat of the bishop of the Faroes and is therefore known as a cathedral.
The early history of the church is quite complicated. To all appearances there was no church in the strict sense in Tórshavn in the Middle Ages, only perhaps a 'prayer house'. It has been suggested that services were held in the Munkastovan in Tinganes. It was only in 1609, that a proper church was built on Tinganes. In 1780 Rasmus Jørgen Winther became minister in Tórshavn and in 1782 seized the initiative to build a new church. However it was only in 1788 that Johannes Poulsen, to the building master in Torshavn. The church of Christian IV was demolished in 1798 following the consecration of the new church, and the timber was sold at an auction. Part of the furniture was transferred to the new church.
Though it completely changed the appearance of the church, the rebuilding in 1865 seems in fact to have only marginally affected the structural parts of the 1788 church. The church has on the whole preserved its structure from 1865. In 1935, however, the choir was extended by four metres and a new sacristy was built. The choir was also extended with an office and other secondary rooms in 1968. The nave itself contains 44 benches, the gallery 14.
The altarpiece from 1647 is fitted on the north wall of the nave, with a painting of the Last Supper and the words of institution. It is a rather simple piece of work from the late Renaissance with a central section flanked by degenerated pilasters, pedestal section and a small top section. The painting of the central section, the Last Supper, belongs to the large group of Danish 17th-century paintings derived from the painting of the Last Supper by Peter Candid – the Court painter to Wilhelm V – for the Franciscan house in Munich and popularised through prints by Sandeler. It was restored in 1961 by Ernst and Holmer Trier together with the local painter Fraser Eysturoy.
The bell is said to have been acquired in 1708. It originates from the ship 'Norske Löve' (Norwegian Lion), which went down in Lambavík on New Year's Eve, 1707.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.