Construction of the new walking and cycling path along Vesturlandsvegur, part of the Ring Road leading through Reykjavík to West Iceland, will be made to avoid a large boulder believed to be home to elves. Known as Grásteinn, the cleft boulder is located in the suburb Grafarholt.
Traffic manager at the City of Reykjavík Ólafur Bjarnason pointed out that it had proven costly when the boulder was moved to its current location during the construction of Vesturlandsvegur in 1970-1971—many accidents are said to have resulted from the move.
Given that Grásteinn is now under preservation, when the Icelandic Road Administration applied for permission to widen Vesturlandsvegur in 1998, the permission was granted on the condition that the boulder be left untouched.
“This was the agreement made with the elves,” Ólafur told Fréttablaðið.
The City of Reykjavík and the Icelandic Road Administration signed an agreement in August on the making of new cycle and walking paths in the metropolitan area.
When I read this story I thought it was a replay of an earlier similar story. Turns out it’s ANOTHER case of an elf-inhabited boulder.
Rumor has it that the Icelandic Road Administration will ask trolls and elves for permission and perform some kind of ceremony whenever they build roads that go through areas the local folklore claims belongs to such creatures.
Check out this story from NY Times, 2005: Building in Iceland? Better Clear It With the Elves First
“If there was a large stone in the garden, and somebody said to an Icelander, ‘That’s an elf stone,’ would they blow it up? They wouldn’t,” said Terry Gunnell, head of the folkloristic department at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.
“It’s not like they think there are little people living in there who come and dance outside,” he added. “It’s more a sense that there are other powers, other forces around them.”