As a towering column of red rock it stands proud against the force of the sea – Long Anna. This stack of red sandstone is 47 metres or 154 feet tall, weighs 25 thousand tons and is famous the world over as the island’s landmark feature. It was officially awarded the status of natural monument in 1969.
Like the cliffs, the column of rock serves as a breeding site for thousands of sea birds every year. The northern gannet, the fulmar and the guillemot nest here and attract large numbers of bird-watchers to the island.
Incidentally, the stack in its present form isn’t especially old. Long Anna is what’s left of a rock formation that originally consisted of four pillars linked by arches. Known rather boringly as Hamilton Point in English, it was locally nicknamed Hengst – Stallion – for its four “legs”. In the end, the sea eroded the pillars to the point where they gradually collapsed. Only Long Anna and its neighbour, Short Anna, now remain.
Perhaps you’re wondering how the name Long Anna came about…
Nobody really knows any more but Long Anna certainly was popular as a nickname in historical times, rather like the way some German artillery pieces became known as Dicke Bertha – Big Bertha.
But there is more information to be had from old sailors’ yarns. In the old days, around 1900, there’s said to have been a pub up here. And the person behind the bar was a tall, slender barmaid called Anna.
So when a seaman went out in the evening and said goodbye to his family, saying: "I’m just going to take a walk over to long Anna”, it might mean two things. Either he was going to the North Point to look out for any ships that might be signalling, or in trouble -- or he was nipping out to enjoy a schnapps with his seafaring mates.
Could that possibly be true? Or is it just a tall tale? Heligoland is chock-full of history and of stories. And the Heligoland Museum in the lowlands has plenty to tell.
All depictions: © Nordseemuseum Museum Helgoland