Elves blamed for mishaps after road clearing work

Some residents of the Nordic Island nation believe they share the land with Hudulfólk – or “hidden people” – and protect the creatures’ habitats and hiding places for fear of incurring their wrath.

Irate elves were suspected of being behind a series of mysterious events near Siglufjordur, where an “elfin lady stone” in a place regarded as sacred in local folklore was covered with earth, local press reported.

Sveinn Zophoniasson, who works for the Bass road construction company, told the Morgunbladid paper the strange happenings began in August 2015 following efforts to clear a mudslide from a highway.

After the stone was buried, the road was flooded, a colleague of Zophoniasson’s who came to clear the route was injured, industrial machinery began to malfunction and a journalist who came to cover the escalating chaos fell into a mud pool and had to be pulled to safety, according to

The news site reported the Iceland Road Administration stepped in to unearth the rock — an artefact under a 2012 law to protect Iceland’s elfin heritage — and subsequently cleaned it with a pressure washer.

History of disruption

{{image2-a:r-w:200}}The incident has shed light on a history of Icelandic construction projects that have been altered due to the supposed influence of the Hudulfólk and their supporters.

In 2013, the UK’s Independent reported elf advocates and environmentalists had urged the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project because it could have disturbed the creatures' habitat and affected an “elf church”.

A group known as the Friends of Lava took a case all the way to the Supreme Court of Iceland to halt the project, citing cultural and environmental impact – including the plight of the elves.

Terry Gunnell, a folklore professor at the University of Iceland, told the paper: “Everyone is aware that the land is alive, and one can say that the stories of hidden people and the need to work carefully with them reflects an understanding that the land demands respect.”

In 1971, a highway project in Reykjavik reportedly suffered multiple technical difficulties because it was claimed a large boulder that served as their home would have been moved to make way for the new road.

Multiple road projects that were supposed to go through a famous elf home known as Álfhóll (Elf Hill) in Kópavogur were reportedly abandoned due to technical and money problems.

In the late 1980s, a rock drill was used in attempts to demolish part of Álfhóll but it broke to pieces. Another drill was brought in but also fell apart and workers refused to go near the hill with any tools. It is now protected as a site of cultural heritage.

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