Human Skull Unearthed in Minister’s Residence Skip to content
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Residence of Minister
Photo: Golli.

Human Skull Unearthed in Minister’s Residence

Human skull fragments were found in the attic of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Tjarnargata during ongoing renovations, Mbl.is reports. Authorities have transferred the bones to the National Museum for analysis, and preliminary investigations suggest no criminal activity is involved.

Analysis conducted by the National Museum

Human skull fragments were discovered last week beneath the attic floor tiles of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Tjarnargata, where renovation work is in progress. Analysis and age determination of the bones are being conducted at the National Museum.

“During the process of removing the attic’s floor tiles and insulation, workers uncovered two fragments of a human skull, reacting with discernible surprise,” Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated in an interview with mbl.is yesterday.

“The origin of the skull remains unknown, including its age and how it came to be hidden beneath the floor tiles,” Katrín stated. “Preliminary assessments suggest the bones may have already been old at the time of placement, but conclusive evidence is lacking.”

According to the Prime Minister, law enforcement was notified and the bones were subsequently transferred to the National Museum, where experts are conducting further examinations to determine their age.

Attic seldom accessed

Foot traffic in the residence’s attic is infrequent, Katrín noted, adding that it was not unprecedented for bones to be found in buildings, citing an earlier discovery at a house on Vitastígur. “Nonetheless, such a discovery is quite uncommon,” she added.

As both the Prime Minister and a crime writer, Katrín acknowledged the intriguing nature of the find. “While it presents intriguing story material, my primary role is to ensure its proper investigation, including its historical context,” she noted. She also mentioned that the building has a lengthy history, both in its current location and previously in the Westfjords.

“At present, there’s no indication of anything criminal having occurred,” Katrín stated. “The working hypothesis, pending expert analysis, is that the bones were already aged when placed beneath the floor.”

Recent renovations

Renovation work, including enhanced fire protection measures, recently commenced at the Minister’s Residence. Significant modifications were previously carried out in 1980, and additional upgrades were made toward the end of the 20th century. The recent investment in maintenance work comes as the residence has seen increased use in recent years, particularly for governmental meetings and similar functions.

The minister’s residence in Reykjavík has a storied history, originating as a one-story log house built in 1892 by Norwegian Hans Ellefssen for his whaling station in Önundarfjörður. Sold to Iceland’s first minister, Hannes Hafstein, for a nominal fee, the house was disassembled and moved to Reykjavík in the early 20th century. It served as the official residence for Icelandic prime ministers until the 1940s, with its last occupant being Hermann Jónasson. Over the years, the residence has hosted various dignitaries including David Ben Gurion and Duke Philip of Edinburgh, and has been used for receptions and meetings.

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