It is assumed that people settled on Flekkerøy in the early days. One indication is a flint axe that was found which probably dates from the older Stone Age, i.e. 1500 - 2000 B.C. However, whether or not there was permanent establishment is questionable. The axe probably traces back to hunting or war fits. The island was, however, most likely inhabited during the medieval saga period, i.e. approx. 900.B.C.
In ancient times Flekkerøy was renowned for its good and centrally placed harbour. Letters dating back to Christian IV have been found which have been addressed to "Kristiansand, by Flekkerøy". Indeed, Flekkerøy was well known hundreds of years before Christian IV established the town of Kristiansand.
Aschehoug's encyclopaedia of 1956 reads as follows: "Flekkerøy is an island group situated in the mouth of the fjord east of Kristiansand, rural district of Oddernes, county of Vest Agder, with approx. 1.400 inhabitants (1950). Outer Flekkerøy is the largest island, covering 6.6 square kilometres. The island is characterised by polished rocks up to 56 metres high. Outer Flekkerøy used to be both a customs station and an important trading centre until the town of Kristiansand was established in 1641. Flekkerøy was first fortified in 1555, then in 1628, and in 1654 the fortifications of Fredriksholm were set up here. In 1872 Fredriksholm closed down never to be opened again. During World War II the Germans fortified Flekkerøy again. On outer Flekkerøy there is a slipway, a workshop for fishing boats and a boarding house".
Originally, Flekkerøy was referred to as merely Flekker ("flekker" means "spots", "øy" means "island"). The meaning of the name Flekkerøy is "the island with cultivated land spots".
Both the name of the island and archaeological finds indicate that people have lived on Flekkerøy from time immemorial. There is no doubt that people have lived there permanently since the Viking Age. It has been suggested that the large number of small cultivated land spots between the rocks have given name to the island. However, the local history tells another story: Flekkerøy has probably adopted its name because of the broad stripes in the mountains on the western side of the island. These stripes result from various light and dark species of rock, which are clearly visible from the sea, appearing as black and white spots. Seamen used them as landmarks.
Marine life has played a major role in the development of Flekkerøy. One of the best harbours in the southern part of Norway was located here, centrally situated and eventually also protected by royal cannons. There were fortifications on "Gamleøya" ("Old Island") in Vestergapet long before Kristiansand was ever considered established. Later, the fortress of Fredriksholm was set up, which remains are still visible. The English blew up the fortress in 1807. The fortifications now serve as an outdoor area.
Absalon Pedersen Beier and Peder Claussønn Friis, two of our former historians, both praised the harbour of Flekkerøy. The harbour can also be identified on old Dutch charts. The island is referred to as Vlecker,Vleckere and Vledere.
History from 1807
Around 1807, approx. 250 people lived on the island. On 11 September 1807 three English ships anchored the harbour. The sailors went ashore at Møvig and on Flekkerøy, and made such havoc that people had no choice but to flee.
On Flekkerøy people tried to hide their belongings, and a place called "Kjelleraskensura" became a kind of hiding place. Word has it that in this chaos a man called Anders Anstensen had his son, Torkild, carried to "Kjellerasensura" while he himself ran home to fetch his wife and older child. Bewildered to find that his wife and other child had entered another boat, he forgot the poor baby in "Kjelleraskensura" and rowed away from the island. In the evening when he reunited with his wife, he suddenly realised that poor Torkild was back on the island. In the shadows of the night two men rowed back to get the boy. Despite being closely followed by the English, they managed to return without getting caught.
The refugees stayed on various farms in Søgne, Oddernes, Tveit and Randesund. In fear of attacks, only a few people stayed in Kristiansand. After all, the English had bombed and burned Copenhagen, and could very well do the same to Kristiansand.
People at Møvig fled to the woods. There was a man called Beint Olsen who made the decision to stay at home. The English, who had not tasted fresh meat in a very long time, stole a cow from Beint (which they surprisingly came back to pay for). The story goes that Sissel Toresdatter was alone when the English payed her a visit. It didn't take her long to realise that they were after her cow too. By placing herself in the cowhouse door with a sickle in her hand, she managed to keep her only cow.
On Flekkerøy there were only two people left; a girl from Lindebø and a man called Herman Kjære. He was watching his house when 20 to 30 English seamen showed up on his property. Herman Kjære soon realised that they were too many to cope with, even for him. He grabbed the wall watch and ran out the back door. He had already made sure that the house did not contain anything valuable. The fact is that the English broke into and ruined many houses. They even dressed up in women's clothes while shooting away on the poor sheep. Cows and sheep were shepherdless for eight days and nights without getting milked. Old people usually compare this week with " the days of the Black Death". One day not long after these incidents Hermann Kjære travelled to Kristiansand to buy some food. But all he got was two tiny loaves of bread. On his way back in the evening he ran into a boat carrying twelve British seamen. When they tried to stop him Hermann laid about him with the oars, hitting one man for each stroke. He himself was impossible for the others to hit. When he had knocked down eight men, the last four men fled for life. Herman scrambled back to Fiskåstranda using the mast and the *, as the oars were all broken.
After a week people started to return to Flekkerøya. Although the children and the young people were thrilled to be back, many elderly people had mixed emotions. Anyway, during this period people came closer to each other, they became good neighbours who helped each other out when necessary. They started to share tools, sails and all sorts of equipment. Also rich people returned to see their houses more or less robbed of everything. Of all the rural districts along the coast, Flekkerøy was most severely attacked, and during the first winter at war people lacked almost everything and suffered heavily.
It was not just the famous Terje Vigen who in fact rowed to Denmark to buy grain. Søren Engelsen came from Flekkerøya and crossed the Skagerak several times. He brought his 12 year old son named Hans, and made the crossings in "the little boat". They rowed in daytime and sailed at night to avoid being spotted by British cruisers. They brought mail from Kristiansand, which they kept under a floorboard in a casket of some kind, provided by the mail office. The casket was made of lead, and could be thrown overboard and sink should the British catch them. After a few days they arrived safely from Fredrikshavn with two or three barrels of rye in addition to the mail to Kristiansand. They had seen the enemy from a distance, yet without being discovered.
This way people endured these seven strenuous years, which eventually came to an end when Norway became a free country in 1814.