Over the years, stories about Iceland have appeared in international media that have captured everyone’s imagination, particularly about construction work being sabotaged—by elves! Which has got this Brit wondering: Do Icelanders really believe in elves? And do elves often cause trouble, or do they live in harmony with man? We asked author and elf authority Páll Ásgeir Ásgeirsson.
“Several stories exist about clashes between building projects and elves. Work has often already started when messages come from the elves to stop. Nobody listens and then machinery breaks, work’s halted and roads have to be rerouted. Most of these situations date back 40 or 50 years and such clashes with the elf folk rarely happen anymore. But elves are extremely clever and often several steps ahead of us; they monitor our behaviour and have the means to change our decisions without conflict.
“Elves like living near people, in inhabited rural areas alongside Icelanders. Therefore, most of the stories about elves interrupting construction happened when roads were first being built and cities and villages were growing rapidly. Nowadays the elves have moved into urban areas, finding homes in manmade structures. A large elf community lives in the ocean wall in Reykjavík—I hear it’s the most popular place to live. They seek structures they don’t have to share with humans. Many live in Hallgrímskirkja, museums and other public buildings. They don’t like buildings where humans reside. Incidents where “mould” is found and people vacate buildings show how elves keep humans in place, driving us out of places they want for themselves. They’ve also realised that national parks and reserves are carefully protected, so those who don’t want to live in cities instead make their homes in places like Þingvellir.”
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