hidden europe 25

Keeping faith with the past: Iceland

by Nicky Gardner

"> Picture above: Goðafoss - the "waterfall of the Gods" in northern Iceland (photo © CsId / dreamstime.com).


Yes, you can go to Iceland in search of glaciers and geysers, but you can also travel north, just as William Morris did, in search of heroes and gods. These are landscapes full of eddic myth and powerful sagas. Iceland is a country that has kept faith with the past.

Our images of various European landscapes are powerfully shaped by early travel writers. It is perfectly possible to travel to Iceland and not see glaciers, geysers or volcanoes. Indeed, the great majority of business travellers jetting into Reykjavík see a glacier-free Iceland. Yet the very name of the country evokes such potent images that we all think we know Iceland, even though we may never have been there.

By the late eighteenth century, Iceland had become a regular destination for writers from Scandinavia, Britain and Germany. Among the travellers of that era was Ebenezer Henderson, a Scottish preacher who travelled by pony through Iceland in 1814 and 1815. Henderson travelled not primarily to see the landscape but rather to promote the distribution of bibles.

Related blog post

From Paris to the Peloponnese

Today we are releasing another trio of articles in full text format. All three are on Greek themes and all three were written by travel writer and publisher Duncan JD Smith. There is a tight geographical focus here as all three articles are set in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece.

Related articleFull text online

Moladh Uibhist: In Praise of Uist

Driving the spinal road which runs the length of South Uist can be a melancholic or an uplifting experience. Few Hebridean islands evoke such mixed responses. In this article, we explore South Uist and find an island of delicate beauty.