Mess with an elf stone at your peril!
In Iceland, there is a strong - if somewhat sheepish and not-exactly-talked-about - national belief in elves. Elves are linked to Iceland's Celtic heritage, and in the Celtic tradition, elves are creatures which are not to be trifled with.
Elves live in stones, and prefer some stones to others. Large, craggy, "interesting" stones are much more likely to appeal to an elf. But any stone may become an elf's home. Because elves are able to control their size, even a small stone can harbor an elf.
Elves are a force of nature in Iceland, connected to the powers of wind and sun and storms. Mess with an elf and you can find yourself being perpetually dogged by a string of bad luck, or worse. Elves are particularly protective of their homes. Any disturbance to an elf rock will be, in local lore, met with disaster.
Elf stones are often identified when they refuse to be budged. If a stone cannot be moved by a bulldozer, if jackhammers break when trying to crack it, then most likely that stone is protected by an elf. In these cases it is almost always simply left in place, with the rest of the construction amended to accommodate it.
A wise construction company will frequently bring on a folklorist early in the process, to ensure that no local elves or fairies will be disrupted by the project. Even if the company doesn't (officially) believe in elves, it is always wise to work with local custom rather than against it. In the Iceland town of Kopavogur, one particular elf stone had so much local legend behind it that a new road construction project had to be routed around the stone.
This may all sound silly to some readers. But consider that many Western buildings lack a 13th floor. Or that in America, real estate agents are required by law to disclose whether a house is haunted, or if a death has occurred in the house. And even if a Western construction company doesn't believe in feng shui, you learn to take it into consideration when working on projects for China-based businesses.
In this interesting New York Times article, one bit in particular caught my eye. A woman explained that "some elves borrowed her kitchen scissors, only to return them a week later to a place she had repeatedly searched." If that happened elsewhere in the world, she probably would have blamed poltergeists, or the ghost of her dead grandmother, or feng shui, or aliens.
Perhaps, by talking about fairies or elves or ghosts or aliens, we are all simply attempting to construct a framework to explain the same strange phenomena that happens everywhere. (And if so, what is it, really?)