Læsø tanghus

Seaweed roofs on Læsø

Photo: VNJ

Læsø has a rich history and culture, which can be seen by unique houses with seaweed roofs.

On Læsø you will find the unique and characteristic seaweed roofs which hold a fantastic history like the Læsø Saltworks. The reason for the existence of the seaweed roofs is that the island did not offer many trees or straw for the "normal" roofs. But as they could find a lot of seaweed and driftwood on the beach they used it for their houses.

When seaweed roofs first became a thing it took a lot of manpower to raise the roofs. Women and men alike were part of this task. Especially women worked on these seaweed roofes because they twisted the pliers by hand. Today you need three full grown men to do a seaweed roof.

Tangtagshus Læsø
Tangtagshus Læsø gavl

In the beginning of the 20th century most of the houses on Læsø had a seaweed roof. But unfortunately attacked a disease the Island's eelgrass in the 1930s which made it difficult to maintain the roofs. This marked the decline of this type of roofing on the island so that there are now only 19 houses with a seaweed roof. Eleven of these 19 houses are under protection. 

Since Læsø is no longer self-sufficient on the eelgrass, they are importing eelgrass from Bogø and Lolland-Falster. Because of their experiences in the production of seaweed mattresses their seaweed has a high quality.

The day of the seaweed homes
In 2017 the first, 'Day of the Seaweed Homes' (Tanghusenes Dag) was hold to celebrate these unique roofs which characterizes the island's unique style of construction. The day features a guided trip to the different seaweed houses. The Day of the Seaweed Homes took also place in 2018 and 2019.

Remaining Seaweed Roofs

The remaining seaweed roofs are an example of the history and culture of Læsø. Two of the most famous seaweed roofs are Museumsgården and Hedvigs Hus. These roofs are over 300 years old. The Museumsgården is located at its original place together with the only remaining post mill. It is said that from the 1630s until 1949 there have been apartments in Museumsgården and they used about 540 loads of seaweed to establish the roof of Museumsgården. Some parts of the seaweed roof are now over 300 years old.

But Museumsgården is not the only section of Læsø Museum that is covered with seaweed. Back in 1994 Hedvigs Hus was bought by Læsø Museum who saved the house from being demolished. The roof was the most important part in the saving process and a seaweed roof will not be replaced like a roof made of straw but will instead be supplemented with new seaweed. After many years Hedvigs Hus now got it great look back. 

Andrines house

One of the oldest seaweed houses is Andrines House. The roof was made in 1790 and has been under protection since 1989. In 2009 Kulturarvesyrelsen overtook the house and restored the roof by using 32 ton of seaweed so that the roof can last for hundreds of years. After the restauration they sold it again for several million kroner in 2012.

 

Seaweed roofs - the wonder of North Jutland

In 2007 the seaweed roofs were voted as one of North Jutlands seven wonders. You will not find roofs made like this anywhere else in the world so Læsø is definitely worth a visit.