Bones Found Under Reykjavík Street Belong to an Animal Skip to content

Bones Found Under Reykjavík Street Belong to an Animal

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

A close-up of an Icelandic horse
Photo: Golli. Horses are a big part of life in north Iceland’s Fljótin region.

Asphalt replacement repairs conducted on a downtown Reykjavík street unearthed a startling discovery, but everyone breathed a sigh of relief after further investigation.

Necessary repairs

The asphalt laid at Egilsgata, between Snorrabraut and Barónstígur, was in dire need of replacement. It had been paved last in the 1930s, and so workers began the task of replacing it last Monday. This involved first digging up the old asphalt.

Relevant to what followed is that cars first arrived in Iceland in 1904 and were slow to catch on until the Second World War.


Speaking to RÚV, contractor Guðmundur Traustason of the utilities company Veitur told reporters, “We were digging here by the cold water pipes, and found a pelvis or socket joint or something like that. We didn’t give it much thought.”

When more bones were discovered as digging continued, the police were contacted.

Not a crime scene

Forensic analysis quickly examined the remains, and came to the conclusion that the bones belonged to either a cow or a horse. A cow or a horse might be an unusual sight in downtown Reykjavík today, but in the early 20th century and before, it was not uncommon. Reykjavík’s urbanisation was relatively sudden and rapid, and mostly a 20th century affair.

There is as yet no consensus on when the cow or horse in question was buried, or for what reason. It will likely remain a mystery.

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