| || In the late ninth century, the Norwegian Viking Ingolfur Arnarson gave the name Vestmannaeyjar to an archipelago of thirteen islands southwest of Iceland. The word means «the isles of the men of the west» and harks back to the early history of Iceland. It was on Heimaey that Ingolfur, the first «colonizer» of Iceland, landed. It was here, too, that the Viking chief captured and massacred the Irish slaves who had accompanied his brother, and then killed him in an ambush, one of the outstanding episodes of that colonization. But the islands of Vestmannaeyjar also testify to an ancient characteristic of Iceland: its volcanic activity. In 1963, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Heimaey, submarine volcanism gave birth to the island of Surtsey. Ten years later, a powerful volcanic eruption altered the face of Heimaey, adding three square kilometers (one square mile) to the island’s surface and endowing it with a new volcano, Eldfell, 223 meters (730 feet) high and still glowing today.
Visit the YAB Gallery for books and signed prints