Risin og Kellingin

Risin og Kellingin, Eysturoy, Faroe Islands

© 2011 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

Risin og Kellingin (or Risin and Kellingin) are two sea stacks just off the northern coast of the island of Eysturoy in the Faroe Islands.

The name Risin og Kellingin means The Giant and the Witch (or Hag) and relates to an old legend. The Giant (Risin) is the 71 m stack further from the coast, and the (Kellingin) is the 68 m pointed stack nearer land, standing with her legs apart.

A legend tells how, once upon a time, the giants in Iceland were envious and decided that they wanted the Faroes. So the giant and the witch were sent down to the Faroe Islands to bring them back.

They reached the north-westernmost mountain Eiðiskollur and while the giant stayed in the sea, the witch climbed up the mountain with a heavy rope to tie the islands together so that she could push them onto the giant’s back.

However, when she attached the rope to the mountain and pulled, the northern part of the mountain split. Further attempts were also unsuccessful, and they struggled through the night, but the base of the mountain was firm and they could not move it.

Whenever the sun shines on a giant or a witch, it turns them to stone. So it was that as they continued to struggle, they didn’t notice time passing. As dawn broke, a shaft of sunlight put a stop to their efforts by turning them to stone on the spot. They have stood there ever since, staring longingly across the ocean towards Iceland.

The stacks can be viewed by walking north from the village of Eiði, then turning east towards the coast and following the low cliffs for a short way. Other good views can be had on a clear day from Tjørnuvík on the island of Streymoy.

Faroese geologists predict that Kellingin, which now stands on two legs, will fall into the sea sometime in the next few decades during the winter storms. Already part of the stack broke off in the past.


5 thoughts on “Risin og Kellingin

  1. Philip – at last I think I’m subscribing to your blog as I’ve received an email – at least I very much hope so! I’m a huge fan of your photography, really superb stuff – and thanks for liking so many of mine. Adrian

  2. I visited Iceland back in the 1980’s I still have the books of Icelandic Sagas that I bought, full of tales of witches and hags and somewhere I have an audio tape of our guide telling us the stories. A magical place I would like to return… one day

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