Lonely Planet Writer

Iceland revokes ancient licence to kill Basques

Westfjords, Iceland.
Westfjords, Iceland. Image by Bernard McManus / CC BY 2.0

Visitors to Iceland from the Basque Country need no longer avoid the Westfjords.  Until last week, residents of the dramatic, remote region in northwestern Iceland could legally kill Basque visitors on the spot. The medieval edict dates from 1615, when Basque whalers ran aground in Strandir, in the north of the Westfjords. The sheriff of the region, keen to eject the new arrivals, sanctioned their murder – resulting in the deaths of 32 Basque sailors. The law was revoked by Jónas Guðmundsson, the current sheriff, in a ceremony at the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery. The Basque Country straddles the border of southwestern France and northern Spain. Read more: grapevine.is