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The Elf Woman Stone : Álfkonusteinn

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

[BLOG REWIND: This story was originally posted to the blog in 2017 in promotion of the INLNA convention that year. You can read the original blog post here.]

Once upon a time, a rich and noble sheriff and his wife lived happily at the important farm called Bustarfell. During the darkest days of winter, the sheriff's wife had a strange dream. She dreamed that a man came to her and asked her to get up and go with him. She did so, and went with him a little way up the hill from the farmhouse to a huge boulder which she recognized on the Bustarfell property. The man went three times clockwise around the stone and the stone turned into a small house. He then took her inside where everything was neat and beautiful.

Bustarfell turf house museum in Iceland on foggy day

On the floor was a woman in labor and laying on the floor in great pain. The man asked her to help his wife. The sheriff's wife went up to the woman and said, "May the Lord Jesus help you."

Shortly, the woman gave birth and everyone was filled with joy. The sheriff's wife helped to bath the newborn baby. The elf woman gave her some salve that was to be applied to the babies eyes. The sheriff's wife was worried if it was okay and put a little bit of it in her right eye to make sure it was okay for the baby.

Shortly, the sheriff's wife was ready to leave and the elf woman gave her a beautiful shawl made of the finest silk and embroidered with gold thread. The man went outside with the woman, walked three times counter-clockwise around the house and it turned back into a stone, and he brought the woman back to Bustarfell. No one in Iceland had ever seen such a beautiful shawl or anything like the gold thread used for the embroidery.

After this, the sheriff's wife could see out of her right eye the houses, farms, and elf people that lived around Bustarfell. She noticed that they were more skillful in their work and could tell what the weather would be in the area. She started to copy their ways in haymaking and her farm became more and more prosperous.

Years went by and then the sheriff's wife went to the village of Vopnafjörður to buy supplies. In the store, she saw the elf woman helping herself to some of the rarest and finest goods in the store. The sheriff's wife said to the elf woman in a friendly voice, "So, here we meet again."

The elf woman turned around and without a word of reply, spit into her eye. Afterwards, the sheriff's wife could never see the elf people or their buildings again.


This is a folk-tale in the collection by Jón Árnason. The shawl in this story was used for a long time as an altar cloth in the church at Hof and is now preserved in the National Museum of Iceland. Bustarfell is an amazing turf farm in northeast Iceland and now is a very active heritage museum.


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