Iceland's 'elf church' rock moved to end road row

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightMBL.IS
image captionThe jagged piece of rock was transferred in two pieces

A long-running dispute in Iceland about a new road blocked by a large rock some consider to be an "elf church" has finally been put to rest - by moving the offending 70-tonne mass.

A large crane was used to relocate the outcrop in two pieces - the larger one weighing 50t - closer to similar "elf-dwellings", the Morgunbladid daily reports. Work on the highway project on the Alftanes peninsula, near Reykjavik, was halted by Iceland's Supreme Court in 2013 after campaigners said it would disturb a protected area of untouched lava and culturally important "elf habitat". According to the Friends of Lava group, this included the 12-foot-long jagged rock considered to be the legendary Ofeigskirkja - a church or chapel used by the Huldufolk ("hidden folk"), derived from the elves of pagan Norse myth.

The deadlock was broken through the mediation of a local woman and self-declared seer, Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, who called for a "pact between elves and men". "The rock will be moved next to other beautiful and similar rock formations, thus creating a unified whole," Iceland's roads commission said in a press release announcing the work, which was carried out on Wednesday. Commenting to Morgunbladid, Ms Jonsdottir said the elves had one and half years to prepare for their church's transfer, and would be happy in their new surroundings.

image copyrightMBL.IS
image captionThe "elf church" in its new home

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