Residents in Iceland fear disturbing an elf habitat, and claim an area is particularly important because it contains an elf church. Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the tip of the Alftanes peninsula, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer.In the land of fire and ice, where fog-shrouded lava fields offer a spooky landscape in which anything might lurk, stories abound of the ‘hidden folk’ – thousands of elves, making their homes in Iceland’s wilderness.
The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact – including the impact on elves – of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers.
And it’s not the first time issues about ‘Huldufolk’, Icelandic for ‘hidden folk’, have affected planning decisions. They occur so often that the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states in part that ‘issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on’.
If you ask an Icelander about elves, they might say they don’t believe, but we always have stories of them
A survey conducted by the University of Iceland in 2007 found that some 62 per cent of the 1,000 respondents thought it was at least possible that elves exist.
Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, a self-proclaimed ‘seer’, believes she can communicate with the creatures through telepathy. ‘It will be a terrible loss and damaging both for the elf world and for us humans,’ said Jonsdottir of the road project.
At Christmas, Icelanders await not just one Santa Claus, but 13 trolls known as the ‘Yule Lads‘ who come to town during the 13 days before Christmas, each with his own task, putting rewards or punishments into the shoes of little children.
They include Stufur, or Stubby, who is extremely short and eats crusts left in pans; Pottaskefill, or Pot-Scraper, who snatches leftovers; and Hurdaskellir or Door-Slammer, who likes to slam doors at night.
‘If you ask an Icelander about elves, they might say they don’t believe,’ said Jonsdottir. ‘But we always have stories of them, if not from ourselves then from someone close like a family member. Of course, not everyone believes in the stories, but the stories and the elves are still there and being told.’
Icelandic Judge Halts Road Project For Fear Of Cultural Impact On Local Elves