Holtaheia in Strand Kommune is a small peak of metamorphic rock 1,621 feet (494m) high. It overlooks Hillefjord, Åmøyfjord, and islands to the north-east of Stavanger. In years past it was too insignificant to be named on a map but today, because of its memorial cross commemorating the air crash at its summit, it is named, and it is a place that many people go to see.
The name ‘Holtaheia’ once brought a feeling of fear and sadness to the families who had lost their loved ones. For those who went on the Pilgrimage in 1962 this feeling ameliorated when the beauty of the mountain and its panoramic views were experienced. Some family members and friends visited Holtaheia years afterwards and their feelings changed too. Holtaheia wasn’t a ‘culprit’ but an innocent victim too. Her ancient rock outcrop just happened to be in the way at the time.
Today Holtaheia receives many visitors. Some, like Tor Eie and his family, visit on the anniversary of the crash – and take photos to remind themselves of their climb to see the cross and to pay their respects to those who died there. Others go to be alone with the beauty and tranquillity of the mountain on still, fair days, and to contemplate. Chris Jones, nephew of Quentin Green, has often played ‘Amazing Grace’ by the cross, most recently with his wife Marie Birketvedt-Jones.
Bernard White and Angela Watson, the brother and sister of Martin White who died, have often visited the mountain and have this to say to anyone contemplating coming to Norway but unsure about visiting Holtaheia.
‘Going there is not a frightening experience. I’ve found going there pleasant and relaxing and very therapeutic just to sit quietly, and look, and think.’ Bernard White.
‘I find Holtaheia a healing place. I feel very close to Martin, - to all of them there.’ Angela Watson.
Map of Strand Kommune - showing Holtaheia, from 1961. To enlarge, click the map.