The seaweed homes of Læsø

Læsø's seaweed roofs regained ...
... transforming eelgrass into seaweed roofs

Making new seaweed roofs
Take this unique opportunity to witness an ancient Læsø tradition: The thatching of a meter-thick seaweed roof that will last for hundreds of years. In no other place in the world you'll find seaweed roofs like on the island of Læsø.

The local thatcher started regaining the traditional thatching technique with eelgrass 10 years ago. His results were turned into an exciting project, now open to the public on weekdays during the summer.

A cultural heritage reclaimed
The rebirth of this cultural heritage is a global sensation. You'll find a thatching technique on Læsø like nowhere else in the world, where people still live in seaweed homes.

And this summer, you're invited to Læsø to witness the rebirth of this cultural heritage and old technique, when Henning and his crew transform eelgrass into seaweed roofs.

A distinct island culture
In many ways, Læsø is a unique and exciting place with an atmosphere of its own. Seaweed roofs, salts works and the delicious scampi – they all give Læsø that distinct island identity.

After his visit to Læsø in 1962, the former King of Denmark, Frederick IX, father of the reigning Queen Margarethe II, said: "Take good care of the seaweed roofs – do what it takes to preserve them". Many of the roofs were, already back then, in a bad state and in urgent need of replacement.

Many decades passed, until finally, the traditional seaweed roofs are now being replaced. The islanders were in great need of eelgrass. They needed to regain the right technique. And they had to raise money for the project

Joined hands
Thanks to local passion, foundations, the local museum and municipality, and the Danish state, we can finally secure the island’s seaweed homes of particular conservation interest. It has been a long and strenuous walk to find the right amount of eelgrass, the right thatching technique and the money to build the new seaweed roofs.

This summer of 2016, three houses will be dressed in new, traditional seaweed clothes. You are welcome to visit the working site and explore the work of the local thatcher, Henning Johansen, and his crew turning dried eelgrass into a roof that will last for hundreds of years.

Explore the Farm Museum with both new and ancient seaweed roofing. The courtyard farm museum had part of its seaweed roof replaced in 2015.

An expensive adventure
Once upon a time, all buildings, except for the churches, had seaweed roofs. Today, only 36 homes have seaweed roofs.

The Centre for Building Preservation in Raadvad, Denmark, has estimated that it will cost 90 mill. kroner to give all 36 houses a new seaweed roof, because the work will also involve an extensive restoration of many of the cottages.

The Danish foundations A. P. Møller og Hustru Chastine McKinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal, the Agency for Culture and Palaces, Augustinus Fonden and Realdania have all, in different ways, contributed to the preservation of the Læsø seaweed roofs – and the very unique cultural heritage of the island.

From 2016 and in the years to come, 19 mill. kroner from A. P. Møller-Fonden and 9 mill. from the Agency for Culture and Palaces will help protect the heritage of the very unique seaweed roofs of Læsø.

Another 3 mill. from Augustinus Fonden will fund a new seaweed roof on the Farm Museum.

More information
Don't miss out on this great opportunity to see and touch the ancient and picturesque seaweed roof of the Farm Museum. Here, you can also buy the small book "Tængemænd og vaskerpiger", describing the technique and its history.

The expression "vaskerpiger" or "vaskerkoner" dates back to the 1600s and 1700s, when it was women's work to twist the eelgrass into long bundles, called "vasker" (wash) – they were wound around the lower rafters, preventing the rest of the roof from sliding down.

Find this and much more on our website, describing the seaweed roofs, the ongoing project and the time in Læsø's history, when most of the male islanders worked at sea. And the women were in charge of the thatching.

Follow the ongoing project on our website.

Meet the thatcher
The local thatcher, Henning Johansen, is at the construction site Monday to Friday at 10 a.m., from June 23rd until the end of October.   

Address: Find your ongoing project (in Danish) here

Læsø Museum wishes you an exciting stay and lots of historical adventures