How you can help complete the Vatnsdæla Tapestry
In a tiny corner of northern Iceland, the locals are telling their history in a 46 metre-long tapestry. And they’d like your help.
Anyone with the vaguest interest in medieval history has heard of the Bayeux Tapestry. It was sewn in the 12th Century and is an embroidered account of the Norman conquest of England.
Well, in the tiny northern Icelandic town of Blönduos, they’re making their own version to tell their story.
And they’re inviting visitors to help them embroider it.
The Vatnsdæla Tapestry, as it’s known, will tell the tale of Vatnsdæla Saga. The saga chronicles the history of the people of Hof between the 11th and 13th Centuries and is full of battles, betrayals, love lost and found, and polar bears.
Basically everything you need for a rollicking tale.
The tapestry was the idea of Jóhanna Erla Pálmadóttir. She commissioned a popular children’s book illustrator, Kristín Ragna Gunnarsdóttir, to design it. And Kristín, in turn, got students from the Icelandic University of Arts to help her.
The first stitch was made on July 16, 2011.
So far 31 metres of the total 46 metres have been completed.
Jóhanna expects it will be an other three to four years before it will be finally finished.
Most of the embroidery is down by local women who gather regularly to stitch and gossip and pass the time on dark winter days.
But in summer, tourists are invited to contribute to this incredible endeavour as well.
For 1,500 Icelandic Kroner an hour (approx. £8.50), Jóhanna will teach you how to embroider and give you your own section to complete.
Jóhanna notes your name, the date and the section you worked on so you get credited in the book that will be published on its completion.
And when the tapestry finally goes on display, Jóhanna hopes to have a touch screen where you name will pop up when people press on the section of the tapestry you worked on.
That’s way more recognition than the poor sods who slaved over the Bayeux Tapestry ever got.
For more information about exploring Iceland’s Saga Trails and the country’s Viking history, visit sagatrail.is
Main image: Jóhanna Erla Pálmadóttir at work on the Vatnsdæla Tapestry (Peter Moore)