chapter  16
16 Pages

Everyday Heritage – The Ordinary of the Extraordinary ‘Down Tradition’ in the Vega Archipelago World Heritage Area, Norway

Heritage has set the stage for much that goes on in the island community of Vega on the Helgeland Coast in northern Norway after its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The main reason for the inscription of this site on the UNESCO List was the almost defunct, but still a ‘living tradition’ of producing eider down that was maintained on the small outermost islands of the archipelago (WHC 2004; Ogden 2002). It was seen by the World Heritage Committee as a reflection of the fisher-farmer’s sustainable way of life in the region as it had been over the previous 1,500 years. However, it is a tradition from what is now a largely abandoned area that most people, including the locals at Vega, had little knowledge about prior to the World Heritage Nomination in the 1990s. Nonetheless, it has attracted broad interest because of its World Heritage significance, which has brought about a new way of thinking about heritage in the local community. Moreover, the UNESCO listing has provided opportunities for tourist initiatives as well as resulting in a new regime of land-use management and cultural heritage preservation policies.