Kyststien, or “Coastal Trail,” is the longest of its kind in Norway. It leads out of Stavern, up a steep hill, through some woods, and finally onto a magnificent hill overlooking the coastline. Standing there, you might wonder what lies on the other side of that faraway horizon. In this particular case, you can actually find out, and in great detail.
At the very edge of the cliff is a giant stone compass with a movable needle. The flat end of the compass needle has a large square hole in the middle, through which the user can see the inscriptions on the slab. By shifting the needle so the inscription “Amsterdam” is in the square, for example, the compass will point you toward that city as the seagull flies. Corresponding information about longitude and distance is also engraved on the slab.
In addition to far-off cities, the compass points to the four lighthouses that can be seen from the hill, and a fifth that you might only spot at night, as a flare of light on the horizon.
The compass is made from larvikite, a rare stone only found in two places in the world, this region of Norway (the Larvik fjord) being one of them. Locals take a particular pride in the larvikite stone because the stone is named after the area; most local monuments, statues, and even some buildings are made from it. Add the local community’s strong cultural, industrial, and sentimental links to the ocean, and you can see how this coastal monument in many ways encompasses the very essence of the area.