European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
What Bizkaia and Iceland share in common: European Dimension events to celebrate EHD 2016 dedicated to Migration

The Arrantzaleen Museoa (Fishermen museum) of the Council of Bizkaia, Euskaltzaindia, the Academy of Basque Language and the Basque-Icelandic association have scheduled some activities within the framework of the European Heritage Days 2016 to highlight a common past.

Magnús Rafnsson of the Basque-Icelandic Association will speak about "Basques in Iceland: reading between the lines" in Hólmavík on Saturday, 17th September, about the interaction between the Basques and locals of Strandasýsla county, northwest of Iceland, during the seventeenth century. Rafnsson will shed light, on the basis of documented cases, about trade relations between locals and visitors, but also other matters more related to the heart, the reaction of young women, living in an isolated community, to the arrival of 85 men one summer, or how 60 sailors were received on local farms after a shipwreck.

In Bizkaia, the Arrantzaleen Museoa proposes a conference on October 18th called "Basques in Iceland: The fishing of whales and cod " by Xabier Armendariz, who will reveal unknown details of the presence of Basque fishermen in this northern land, their relationship with the Icelandic population, especially along the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from the commercial and human point of view. He will also speak about disagreements, even violent, like the killing of the Basques in 1615. Both conferences will illustrate a shared common history, cultural influences and the traces which are still alive in linguistics or the traditional Icelandic costume.

Traces of the Basque language in Iceland

On 18th October, the Academy of the Basque Language, Euskaltzaindia organizes a conference "Euskararen Aztarnak Islandian" (The remains of basque language in Iceland) by Gidor Bilbao on the Basque-Icelandic pidgin, a simplified language that both communities developed during the XVII and XVIII centuries to serve as a vehicle of communication between locals and visitors, a glossary consisting of 745 Basque and Icelandic terms, including also some French and English. The conference will showcase and discuss the texts in pidgin Basque, trying to distinguish the Basque terms from those derived from the other languages.

These European Dimension events will be part of the sixteenth edition of EHD in October under the theme of "Etxetik Kanpo. Migration and cultural heritage."

More information available at:

The Icelandic Basque Association website:

The Icelandic Basque Association Facebook page: