The Ófeigskirkja Stone (The Hidden People Church) at Gálgahraun in Iceland. The stone held up construction of a new road until it was relocated
Image credit Svala Ragnars
In Iceland, newts, bats or other endangered flora and fauna are not the only things that might halt or delay construction projects. Elves are equally to be respected! Oliver Wainwright, the Guardian’s architecture and design critic, reports –
Road-builders are used to seeing their plans scuppered by the protected habitats of bats and newts, or sites of special scientific interest and outstanding natural beauty. But in Iceland, there is another hindrance: the world of the huldufólk, as they call them, the hidden people.
The rock, known as Ófeigskirkja, has been at the centre of an eight-year battle to stop a road being built through this 8,000-year-old landscape, a spectacularly barren and evocative terrain a little to the north of Reykjavík, which some believe is a site of supernatural forces. In a country of such desolate stony expanses, haunted by howling winds, bubbling geysers and fiery eruptions, it’s not hard to see why more than half of the population entertains the possibility that a parallel community of elves, dwarves and ghosts might exist – a statistic repeated in tourist brochures since a landmark 1975 survey.