Construction of the new walking and cycling path along Vesturlandsvegur, part of the Ring Road leading through Reykjavík to West Iceland, will be made to avoid a large boulder believed to be home to elves. Known as Grásteinn, the cleft boulder is located in the suburb Grafarholt.Cycling in Reykjávik. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Traffic manager at the City of Reykjavík Ólafur Bjarnason pointed out that it had proven costly when the boulder was moved to its current location during the construction of Vesturlandsvegur in 1970-1971—many accidents are said to have resulted from the move.
In an article in Morgunblaðið in 1999, the stone, which was estimated to weigh 50 tons, split in two during its relocation in 1970 and ended up standing upside down.
These events sparked stories of Grásteinn being inhabited by elves and in 1983 the boulder was included in the National Museum of Iceland’s registration of ancient remains in the area.
Given that Grásteinn is now under preservation, when the Icelandic Road Administration applied for permission to widen Vesturlandsvegur in 1998, the permission was granted on the condition that the boulder be left untouched.
“This was the agreement made with the elves,” Ólafur told Fréttablaðið.
The City of Reykjavík and the Icelandic Road Administration signed an agreement in August on the making of new cycle and walking paths in the metropolitan area.
The project is estimated to cost ISK 2 billion (USD 17 million, EUR 13 million). The new paths will include the construction from the Hlemmur bus terminal in the city center to Elliðaárósar, the river mouth Elliðaár, where they will be connected with new bridges across the river.