Erika Owen
August 31, 2016

Elf culture is a legitimate thing in Iceland. Not only does much of the country's folklore revolve around pint-sized elves, but many people around the world believe in their existence.

So much so, that locals became very upset recently when a sacred elf rock was buried during some construction in Siglufjörður, Iceland.

According to folklore, the “elfin lady stone” is a sacred spot for elves—why, no one seems to know.

The rock was actually buried in soil after a landslide in 2015, but things got dramatic after a series of accidents at the landslide site. After the area was cleared, floods overtook the road.

“I've never seen a road that bad,” said Sveinn Zóphóníasson, for the Iceland Monitor. But bad weather isn't enough to raise any eyebrows in Iceland. However, after realizing the waters reached down to a nearby town and were affecting roads in the area, Zóphóníasson attempted to move a bulldozer on the site, but ended up fleeing the scene after spotting another rush of muddy water heading his way.

During the second clean-up, machinery failed and a local journalist had to be removed from a giant mud pool after climbing up nearby rocks to record footage. He found himself waist-deep in mud before being pulled to safety.

Cursed or just bad luck? Who knows. But, in response to the accidents—and in accordance with local laws from 2012 that name the stone as a national artifact—the Iceland Road Administration began work on unearthing the rock. They also gave it a good cleaning with some help from a power hose, just for good measure.

Erika Owen is the Senior Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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