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The Lonely House on Ellidaey Island, Where Nobody is Sure of its Residents

BY Tanveer Khan January 31, 2019
The lonely house at Ellidaey Island

The lonely house at Ellidaey Island. (Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons)

The sparsely-populated European country of Iceland seems to come straight out of fictional stories. It is one of those rare places on earth, which has a lot to offer in terms of its breathtakingly-beautiful vistas. Quite unlike its name, Iceland is mostly covered in lush, green fields. It has blue lagoons, natural geysers, hot springs, huge glaciers, a long list of volcanoes and acres of acres of lava fields. But what sets this island nation apart from the rest of the world is its Ellidaey Island in the Vestmannaejyar archipelago. Anglicized as Westman Island, the Ellidaey Island in the chain, laying in the south of Iceland, is one of the largest groups of islands, which is home to a mysterious mansion that most of us do not know about.

Ellidaey Island and the lonely house

Rising straight out of the ocean, Ellidaey Island is spread across 110 acres. The unoccupied island is situated in the northeast of the nearest inhabited island of Heimaey. It juts out of the ocean towards its far east and is sloped at its western edge. At this slope lies a mansion that has been shrouded in mystery ever since it came into the public eye. As per local stories that float in the area, the isolated house on Ellidaey Island once belonged to a family, followed by five more families that lived there in the vicinity for over a period of three hundred years. These families hunted for seafowl, mostly puffins, raised cattle in the neighbourhood and fished in the open ocean. But it is said that the impractical life far away from civilization in the middle of the ocean was too difficult to sustain and these families left behind nothing but desertion by the 1930s. Ellidaey Island was soon abandoned and lay there ever since.

Ellidaey Island

Ellidaey Island. (Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons)

As decades passed, people who had heard accounts of puffin hunting at Ellidaey wanted to return. And since Ellidaey Island was the best place to hunt for puffins, a lodge was built on the island for the purpose. Stories were abounding that this cabin served as a temporary residence to hunters that visited the island during hunting seasons. Some locals also believed that the lonely house was actually a secret hiding place of a mysterious billionaire, who would frequent the mansion to be away from the limelight. But none of the stories could be confirmed until news came out in the year 2000 that the government of Iceland was planning to gift the mansion on Ellidaey Island to iconic Icelandic singer Bjork, who put the country on the world map with her four-decade-long service.

Bjork’s mansion on Ellidaey Island

Currently not available online, a piece published in The Independent reported that the Icelandic government had actually given away the island and the house to Bjork for her contribution towards the country. The article also quoted that the then Prime Minister of Iceland, David Oddsson (also the longest-serving) saying that he considered gifting the island to Bjork for bringing laurels to their country. But people’s strong reaction led him to rethink his decision and he denied any such generosity later. It turned out that since Iceland has two Ellidaey Islands, Bjork had expressed her desire to build a home on the other Ellidaey Island, which too, couldn’t materialize due to all the confusion.

Lodge of the Ellidaey Hunting Association

After the Bjork fallacy, the lonely house on Ellidaey Island quickly caught the Internet’s fancy and pretty pictures on the quaint island started doing the rounds on a lot of websites. While many people came to believe that the house was photoshopped in the images, many others believed that it belonged to the Ellidaey Hunting Association. In the early 1950s, members of the hunting association built a cabin on the island, where they could stay as hunting season began and also during puffins’ egg-laying season in spring. Easily accessible by boat from the mainland, a zip line, meant strictly for the hunters of the group, takes them to the cabin on the slope. The house, without electricity and running water, is used by the members of the hunting group as a place to stay and rest during hunting season.

Surrounded by a fence to keep a few cattle inside when the cabin is not in use, the lonely house on Ellidaey Island still manages to capture everyone’s fancy. While not much is completely known about the purpose of building the house so remotely on the island, the house still sits on the Ellidaey Island in isolation fuelling a lot of stories in abundance.

Enjoyed this article? Also, check out “The Famous Pollepel Island of Hudson River: Home to a Castle of a Bygone Era“.

Fact Analysis:
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