When Elves Halted An Iceland Road Construction Project

By Karen Harris
Picture taken on April 22, 2016 shows an elves palace in Reykjavik. (Halldor Kolbeins/AFP via Getty Images)

Although they may not admit it to your face, many Icelanders believe in elves. While this may seem like nothing more than a charming quirk to outsiders, incurring the wrath of these "hidden folks," as they are called, can be catastrophic. Just ask the workers who were hired to construct a new road through a lava field in 2013.

Elves In Iceland

According to surveys, roughly two-thirds of Icelanders believe in elves, and it's not hard to see why. Scholars have long contended that belief in the supernatural simply provides the human psyche with an easy explanation for the unexplained, and with its strange beauty and defiant landscape, the country certainly has some explaining to do. If elves were going to live anywhere, it would definitely be Iceland.

That became a problem when construction of a new road from the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabear to the nearby Alftanes peninsula began in 2013. The highway would have crossed a lava field (which isn't as alarming as it sounds—the place is lousy with 'em) and passed some large, seemingly insignificant boulders. In other words, typical elf stuff, which is why workers got spooked when weird things started happening. Tools came up missing and reappeared in bizarre locations, and then an excavator refused to start.