An appalled but enthusiastic group of activists is determined that their local landmark, a stone formation called “Trollpikken” that resembled an erect penis, will rise again. Police are searching, meanwhile, for whoever literally cut it off over the weekend, with the culprits facing six years in prison for environmental vandalism if caught.
Reaction has been swift after a group of joggers found the tourist attraction in Eigersund, south of Stavanger, badly damaged on Saturday morning. Kjetil Bentsen, who’s been leading efforts to make Trollpikken a more popular tourist attraction in the hills of Norway’s southwest coast, told local newspaper Dalane Tidende that “someone” drilled holes into its base “and cut off the whole formation.”
Remnants including metal bolts were found left at the site, while Bentsen said there were several signs that clearly show how someone wanted to destroy Trollpikken. Its name has been roughly translated by its supporters to “The Troll Cock.”
“This is terribly sad, and I’m appalled that someone could do something like this,” Bentsen said.
Both the chief of the regional tourism promotion organization Destination Stavanger and local police have been working to attract more attention to Trollpikken, in competition with other unusual rock formations in the area including Trolltunga and Kjeragbolten. Police and local officials have been concerned about the crowds of poorly prepared tourists who attempt the hike to Trolltunga especially, and hoped to divert some of them to the lesser-known Trollpikken that involves a much easier hike. Trollpikken could also provide an alternative to Preikestolen, yet another tourist magnet not far from Stavanger that can be extremely overcrowded during the summer months.
Police were launching an investigation, confirmed Magnar Sandstøl, acting chief of the Eigersund police station. Tor Helge Stavik of the Sør-Vest Police District that covers the entire southwest region of Norway told TV2 that “this type of violation of the law carries potential punishment of up to six years in prison.
A local building contractor told TV2 it was no problem to re-erect the landmark. “Folks have been saying it’s destroyed forever but that’s not true,” said Sverre Garpestad of the firm Bertelsen & Garpestad. He claimed it would be “a simple job” to fasten the stone back into place by drilling bolts and injecting a special form of mortar into “tunnels” that would secure it. “The work can be done in an hour if we use a helicopter,” Garpestad said.
The Trollpikken enthusiasts quickly launched a fundraising effort and had already raised more NOK 74,583 from 424 donors by early Sunday morning. A local sporting goods store had pledged NOK 10,000 and was urging others to follow suit. A local geologist was calling for price estimates for the repair job and doesn’t think Trollpikken will lose its value as a tourist attraction. If anything, all the fuss over the vandalism has given rise to enormous publicity.
That prompted some pundits, who were having fun with the story in the Norwegian media, to comment that Trollpikken was probably in safe hands. “Absolutely,” claimed Garpestad. “We have the Viagra that’s needed.”