Skjoldungen Fjord, Greenland

Imagine a narrow fjord bordered by rugged peaks, vertical rock walls and serpentine rivers of ice plunging into the sea. This is Skjoldungen Fjord, named by Wilhelm August Graah after the honorific title Skjoldungen which, according to Norse mythology, was given to successors of legendary King Skjold to the Danish throne.


Numerous tidewater glaciers calve during the summer, releasing large chunks of ice that plunge into the fjord. Above, huge crevasses and free-standing pillars of ice, known as seracs, are silhouetted against a blue Greenlandic sky. Barren of large trees, Skjoldungen Fjord is carpeted in colorful dwarf birch and willow forests that may grow several feet high, as well as a variety of low-growing Arctic wildflowers.


This fjord was likely inhabited by Paleo-Eskimo (Inuit) nomadic people as early as 4,000 years ago. Archaeological remains of later historical periods, such as Thule culture graves, have also been found, indicating that Inuit people have lived in the area continuously. Scattered within this stunning scenery are remains of more recent abandoned Inuit dwellings along the fjord’s western shores.