Sunday, January 16, 2022

Elves and the Icelandic Landscape

You'll probably be surprised to know that Iceland has elves, yes real elves, at least as measured by how important they are for Icelandic life.  And significant parts of the landscape are considered sacred as the elves live there.  Highways and roads have been rerouted, and homes built, all in order to avoid the elves' sacred spaces.

For our last two days we took a full-size bus south of Reykjavik toward the south coast.  We got to see a bit of the very limited farmland on Iceland, some waterfalls, and the Skogar Museum, an open air folk museum - as well as some of those sacred spaces for the local elf communities.

These are typical views of the very limited farmland, on the rare patches of good soil below the central upland landscape.  At least it's flat!  And in fact Iceland's climate is surprisingly moderate, even though it is on the same latitude as Baffin Island.  It is heavily influenced by oceanic currents like the gulf stream, and has mild winters and cool summers.  On the low coastline winter temperatures hover near freezing, while in summer it rarely gets above 15°C.

From what we could see it is mostly used for grazing and hay production, and Icelandic horses are popular.  This is a unique breed of horses bred in Iceland over the past 1000 years.  No other breeds can be imported, though some of these are certainly exported.  They are a very hardy breed, often just pony size, but always referred to as horses.

The landscape isn't always such nice farmland, sometimes it is rough and rocky volcanic rock, remnants of various volcanic eruptions over the centuries.  Not suitable for much human use, but it is said that some of the elves live in the rocky lava fields.

And occasionally the rock just rises from the flat farmland, providing prime elf habitat - at least that is what we were told.

We were told that these are among the rocks where elves live, but we didn't see any ourselves, as no-one ever does.

Landowners often put out little house fronts for the elves so they can more easily come and go from their homes in the rocks..

I think the typical elf actually has a slight resemblance to the furry gnome, don't you?

Elves in Iceland known as the 'Huldufolk' or the little folk, the hidden people, and are central to Norse mythology.  More than half of the Icelandic population does believe in elves, even though they are invisible to human eyes.






22 comments:

  1. Now Mrs F G, you need to make a felt hat, to match the outfit seen in Ic eland. It would surely keep your head warm. Barren land, you would wonder how any farmer could earn enough to live.

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  2. The rugged landscape is beautiful, though not very friendly looking. The little facades for the elves are downright cute! There may be just a little resemblance. :)

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  3. Love the cute little elf houses!!

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  4. It is nice to believe in magical beings.

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  5. The landscape does look imposing, but I love the idea of elves out there in the rocks. And I love the little homes built for them by locals. Yes, a red felt hat like that would look right at home on your head! :-)

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  6. It wasn't too long ago I read there was indeed merit to the true existence of Elves a very, very long time ago. There was a definite reason for the myths and legends but it is truly a complicated story.

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  7. Yes, you do look like an elf, or a gnome -- although somewhat larger. Apparently in folklore there was a difference between the two.

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  8. I like those house fronts especially for the Elves. Who knows, they may really exist!!

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  9. Yes indeed, of course there are little people who keep out of sight of big people. Any child knows that's true until they grow up, mostly. Great little houses...it certainly is rugged country. I'd love to see the Icelandic horses more, may do a search for them...

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  10. Those elf houses are cute! What a great legend.

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  11. Our friends here had a Icelandic horse. Such a beautiful creature. It reminds me of the Newfoundland ponies.

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  12. Oh!! I love the story of elves and love, love their adorable homes!

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  13. ooooh i just LOVE the elf story, i am a believer already!! the house fronts are adorable and i do believe you were an elf in a past life!!

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  14. Fun! This must have been a wonderful trip!!

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  15. The little elf houses are adorable!

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  16. The landscape is so beautiful, no wonder elfs live there. 😊

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  17. I really enjoyed your Icelandic photos and story. And I can see the resemblance, no wonder you enjoyed your trip. You must have felt right at home :-)

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  18. I love the elves.
    What made you visit there, or did I miss that?! Such interesting culture, and geography.

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