Arctic Circle Landmark Irks Locals Skip to content

Arctic Circle Landmark Irks Locals

Grímsey’s wandering landmark, an eight-tonne [17,600-pound] concrete sphere that marks the point at which the Arctic Circle crosses the small island off the coast of North Iceland, has, since its installation in the fall of 2017, irked locals and tourists alike, reports.

Known as “Hringur og kúla,” in Icelandic or “Orbis et Globus” (‘Circle and Sphere’) in Latin, the monumental artwork was installed on the island in 2017 and was specifically designed to move, as the Arctic Circle is not a fixed point, but, as explains “…is defined by the tilt of the Earth toward or away from the sun, which is known to fluctuate up to 2.4 degrees every 40,000 years or so. Currently, the Arctic Circle is actually moving north from Iceland at a rate of about 48 feet per year.”

And so, every year, the giant sphere has to be moved to follow the circle. According to creator Kristinn E. Hrafnsson, this movement, which is “a direct reference to nature’s progress and perpetual motion,” is precisely what makes the work so affecting. Some locals, however, feel that it creates unmanageable expectations for tourists who only have a limited time on Grímsey. Some are suggesting that it be moved closer to town.

“What the sphere has primarily done is to draw all the tourists out of town,” remarked Guðrún Inga Hannesdóttir, who is a member of the Grímsey town council. “It’s a three-hour round-trip walk [to its location on Grímsey’s northern coast] from the port, which is really dubious when people come on flights and only have an hour and a half. Before, the [Arctic Circle] was right by the airport and everyone was really happy to cross it.”

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