Virtual Photo Exhibition: In the Footsteps of Daniel Solander

Once a month, Iceland-based photographer Signe Fogelqvist shares a contemporary perspective on Solander´s 1772 expedition in southern Iceland as seen through her camera lens.

Part 1

250 years ago, the ship Sir Lawrence disembarked in Hafnarfjörður, and Daniel Solander stepped ashore in Iceland. For anyone not familiar with this man; he was a Swedish Botanist born in 1733, who studied natural history in Uppsala under the great Carl von Linné. Solander took part in many incredible voyages during his lifetime, including joining James Cook on his first voyage to the Pacific Ocean aboard the Endeavour. On August 29th, 1772, however, the destination was Iceland with Solander's focus being on the botanical specimens of the island.

(The photo is from Húsavik, which is a location Solander never visited during his quest to Iceland, but the pictured ship is a close resemblance to what Sir Lawrence may have looked like. The video on the other hand is of Hafnarfjörður, which is the same view Solander and his fellow passengers will have witnessed while sailing into the harbor.)

In collaboration with The Embassy of Sweden's Solander 250 project here in Iceland, I will provide my take on Solander's botanical visit to Iceland by sharing a photo each month in reference to his expedition.

Signe's Instagram

Part 2

Following in the steps of Daniel Solander, one of the first sights when disembarking in Hafnarfjörður, will have been Keilir. This perfectly pyramid-shaped mound is a volcanic mountain, which was formed during the last ice age as a result of a subglacial eruption. This peak reaches a height close to 400 meters and was apparently used as a way of navigation for seamen, long before the colorful Icelandic lighthouses were a thing. Who knows, perhaps this little mountain was an important tool for Solander and his men when navigating their way to the town of Hafnarfjörður?

Signe's Instagram

Part 3

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By the time Solander and the rest of the group arrived in Iceland, it had in fact previously been visited by other naturalists. Though, as described by Joseph Banks (who was also a part of the expedition); Iceland was ‘visited but seldom or never at all by any good naturalist’ and was a country ‘new to the Botanist and Zoologist’.

On their checklist 'Flora Islandica', they included many Alpine and Arctic species familiar to Solander from his native Piteå. One of the species shared between Iceland and Solander’s motherland is 'Cetraria islandica', a lichen species especially characteristic of the west and north of Iceland. To this day, moss is a very prominent feature of the Icelandic flora and fauna, which the country’s residents take great pride and care off. One of the first things you’ll learn when traveling to Iceland is: Do not step on the moss!

Signe's Instagram

Last updated 27 Jul 2022, 12.32 PM