The Ultimate Guide to Trolls of Myth and Legend

from the movie Troll Hunter


We all know the term “Troll” mostly from the major fantasy movie productions like Harry Potter and The Hobbit, not to mention that it is the official unofficial name for a type of internet bully. But what is a Troll exactly, in the traditional sense, where does the myth for a Troll come from and how can we identify one, and if we are going down that road most importantly then, where can one find them and protect yourself against them.

Okay I know I have to work on my creativity skills 🙂

Let’s take a closer look at the Troll as in the mythical creature.  In order for a Troll to be classified as a Troll it needs to have certain characteristics, in ancient myths and legends creatures were quite diverse in terms of sticking to a specific set of trademarks, imaginations ran wild and thus every area, region and maybe even village had their own list of special attributes that contributed to the makeup of anyone of the many creatures they feared, but through telling and re telling stories certain attributes stuck and can as such be used to differentiate say Trolls from Giants.

This Article will cover:

  1. Main characteristics of a Troll
  2. Types of Trolls
  3. Legends pertaining Trolls
  4. Literature and Modern depiction of Trolls
  5. Places that has a connection with Trolls
  6. Protection against Trolls

MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF A TROLL

Trolls, myths mainly from Norwegian and Scandinavian heritage before it spread through the rest Europe, was first mentioned in Norwegian myths and lore before they  became an actual legend in Scandinavia; from there it spread but had a prominent part in Orkney UK. Those three locations is where they are most prominent and mostly mentioned

Main Characteristics of a Troll:

  • Extremely ugly, with long noses
  • Dim-witted and stupid
  • Trolls may have as many as nine heads but mostly they are humanoid troglodytes in form with only one head
  • They sometimes have bears as pets
  • Can smell the blood of Christian men
  • Also have a taste for human flesh and has been known to kidnap young maidens or princesses
  • According to certain legends they have a King
  • A Troll turn to stone when they are touched by sunlight
  • Are sometimes described as human sized but mostly depicted as more like a giant
  • Dwell in mountains, caves and rocks, lakes, forests, castles or under bridges and may live in family units
  • They are scared of lightning
  • Not known to be either friendly or helpful to humans. They have been known to try and trick humans by helping them for something in return which might have a dire or sad outcome for the person that is dealing with them
  • Trolls are greedy for treasure and magical objects
The Princess and the Trolls

TYPES OF TROLLS

TROLLJONER

Troll Maiden according to Brian Froud

A Trollkoner is a female troll which is actually a rarity, most Trolls kidnap maidens or princess who then have to spend the rest of their days as prisoners, spinning by day (not the cycle kind) and then rubbing the Troll’s head at night.

MOUNTAIN TROLLS OR GUILD-FOLK

Mountain Troll

The Mountain Trolls are said to be the wealthiest of the Trolls with riches in gold and silver amongst other treasures. Tales tell of the walls of their homes being lined with these gold and silver riches. According to Hellonian folklore the king of the Trolls is Cornelach and lives on the Ellashian Mountains and in Norwegian folklore his name is Dovregubben and lives on Mt. Drove

SKOVTROLDE OR FORREST TROLLS

Forrest Troll by GalleryGerard.com

These are the Trolls that live in the woods. Forest Trolls living alone in their hut has been rumoured to be the one most dangerous Troll for humans. In general they are the Trolls that seek to injure, kidnap or even kill mankind.

BJERG-TROLDE

Bjerg-Trolde waiting under the bridge

These Trolls live in the hilly areas usually as a family unit but not necessarily. Family units mostly consist of a father and daughters or mother and sons. In some legends they are also a smaller “specie”  of Troll, and can even be smaller than humans

HIISI

Hiisi

Are Troll like beings from Baltic-Finnish folklore, they are depicted as a evil, trickster like personalities, that are either of a small size or huge size. The mainly live near outstanding geographic regions  and cannot enter an area inhabited by civilization, mostly due to the fact that places inhabited by civilization was deemed as blessed as opposed to the unholy outside world. They enjoyed throwing rocks and making holes in rocks where they were believed to churn milk. Hiisi was also one of the sons of the great king Kaleva

FODDEN-SKKMAEND OR HOLDER-FOLK

Potential Troll cave in the Faroe islands?

The name for Trolls in the Faroe islands, where it is believed they carry humans to their underground caves and keep them there.

NOKKEN

Nøkken – By Theodor Kittelsen

Another dangerous Troll, these Trolls lives in ponds or lakes and can change form, usually into a beautiful horse who lures you onto his back and takes you into the middle of the waters and proceeds to drown you or as a handsome young man who lures you onto a boat and again takes you into the middle of the lake or pond and drowns you or keeps you there.

They are said to be evil, mean spirited beings, they cannot survive for long out of the water but they can come ashore to find potential victims. They are terrified of steel and dislikes church bells.

SEA TROLL

Sea Troll – By Theodor Kittelsen

Mean spirited Trolls with mouths as big as a hay-wagon. Fortunately these trolls live in deepest depths of the oceans and will only surface every now and then, unfortunately if and when they surface and encounter a fisherman they will kill and eat them.


LEGENDS ABOUT TROLLS

That mostly covers the different types of Trolls from the different areas, though there are many stories and legends that covers the various interactions people had with Trolls, some of the main stories are quickly summarised below.

THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF

Essentially it is a children’s tale of three Billy goats named Gruff, who needs to cross the bridge in order to get to greener pastures but under the bridge lives hungry a Troll. As soon as they try crossing the bridge the Troll hears them and wants to kill and eat them, the first two Billy goats outsmarted the troll and the third is big and strong enough to kill the Troll. All three goats cross safely and enjoys the grass on the other side

For the whole story in detail you can click here

Or if you want to watch it, you can click here

ASKELLADDEN

This is a Norwegian legend where a farmer sends his three sons into the forest to cut wood. One by one the older sons gets scared off by the Troll but the youngest boy Askelladen takes food with him. He then proceeds to not only trick the Troll into helping him cut down the tree but also into an eating competition where he convinces the Troll to cut a hole in his stomach causing the Troll to die and Askelladen to take all the Troll’s treasures and pay off his family’s debts.

Want a more in-depth version of this story? Click here

REVENGE OF THE SEA TROLL

In this story a fisherman named Elias is out fishing one day, he casts his line and has many bites but as soon as he pulls his line back in there are no fish or bait on, confused and eventually frustrated he finds an old green mitten and fills it with sand from the bottom of the boat. He then attaches it the mitten to the line and casts it. Almost immediately he feels a tug on the line and starts pulling the line back in but only it is not so easy this time and he hast to tie the line around the oarlock. He eventually manages albeit slowly to pull the line in. Suddenly an ugly sea Troll raises its head out of the water with the green mitten still stuck in its mouth. Elias gets a fright pulls the hook free, spits in the Trolls mouth and hurls it back into the ocean.

Later

Years later Elias out fishing again decided to take a relaxing stroll on the beach of one of the nearby uninhabited islands. Whilst out walking he comes across a dried up piece of animal presumable a dead sea otter. Elias nudges the animal with his foot where to his shock and horror the animals spurts and sputters violently. Elias recognises the animal as the Sea Troll he caught years earlier. The Troll swells and swells and its mouth grow bigger and bigger eventually resembling a coffin. The Sea Troll mocks Elias by calling out to him “Now you can spit in my mouth one last time Elias, if you wish” but Elias not listening already got back into his boat rowing home as if his life depended on it, which it probably had.

I presume after that Elias stopped fishing, one could only hope

BEOWULF

BeoWulf facing Grendell

We all know the story of BeoWulf with Angelina Jolie playing a main Character and the awesome graphics but it was actually an epic poem where Beowolf kills Grendel, a Troll that terrorises the Danes. BeoWulf then also kills his mother and a dragon. It is quite a long an well epic tale but you can read more about it here

THE SMART FARM MAID

This is a story about a Farm girl in Sweden that was busy ploughing the fields with her trusty horse when suddenly a beautiful horse appeared from the lake, she stares at the stunning horse and the horse moves closer inviting her to come to him. Realising that it must be a Nokken she ignores the horse and continues with her work. The Horse however moves closer and closer until it is close enough to bite the girls horse. The girl getting angry starts shouting at the Nokken to go back to the lake or she is going to tie him to the plough. As soon as she said that the Nokken suddenly changes places with the horse and starts ploughing the field at such a speed that the girl barely holds on. Withing seven crows from the rooster the Nokken finished ploughing the field and rushes off to the water taking the plough and the girl with him. The girl realising this takes out a piece of metal in her pocket throws it at the Nokken who then jumps in the water taking the plough with it but leaving the girl behind.

A TROLL NAMED DUNKER

A troll could be killed if a Christian person shouted their name. This is the reason why they never told anyone their names, but sometimes people could find out by tricking them. In the Dunker a Mountain in Fosen lived a mountain troll called Dunker.  He fell in love with a young maiden whom he caught and brought into the mountain.  She sat crying while he prepared the wedding ceremony but the night before the wedding Dunker was in a very good mood. He drank merrily and became quite exhilarated. For many days the maiden had tried to make him tell her his name but in vain. But now she saw an opportunity and made the mountain troll put his head in her lap.  She started stroking him. He became so happy that he jumped up, danced and sang: Hey Hey Dunkerydee! Tomorrow for the first time Dunker takes the bride in his arms!
Then the maiden exclaimed happily: “No, poor Mr Dunker!”
Dunker burst and fell so heavily that the mountain collapsed so the young maiden could walk out and home.


LITERATURE AND THE MODERN DEPICTION OF TROLLS

Mountain Troll in Hogwarts!

As I Mentioned earlier, Trolls featured in major films like Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone where Harry, Ron and Hermione outsmart and defeat a Troll in the girls bathroom

(L-r) The trolls: William, Tom and Bert (performed by PETER HAMBLETON, MARK HADLOW and WILLIAM KIRCHER respectively) in the fantasy adventure “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), released by Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM.

In Tolkien’s world Trolls also feature in the Lord of the Rings as well as the Hobbit where Bilbo Baggins outsmarts three Trolls looking to eat them by delaying them until sunrise whereupon they’re turned to stone. Frodo year’s later visit the sight of the Troll statues.

Other Fantasy books that include Trolls are the Artemis Fowl series, Terry Pratchett’s books.

In film and Television there is of course the colourful happy Trolls that came into fashion in the 90’s and now again

In the Movie Frozen the Trolls are depicted as small stone beings that is wise and helpful, another depiction as helpful friendly Trolls is Moomin

Trolls 2017, so much has change

There are many other Trolls in film

  • Troll hunter
  • A troll in central park
  • Little Troll prince
  • Trolls and Gnomes

And many more

Many Fantasy games also has Trolls in as enemies to defeat

  • Elder Scrolls Oblivion,
  •  Divinity 2
  • World of Warcraft

to name a few

Troll in Elder scrolls Oblivion, how I hated those

PLACES THAT HAS CONNECTIONS WITH TROLLS

There are places all over Scandinavia, Norway, Finnland, Germany, the UK and even the Netherlands that is a reminder of Trolls that was part of their heritage and lore, here I will cover just a few other wise I will need a whole travel channel to go through everything

TROLLRYGGEN

The Troll Wall

The Troll wall is part of the Trolltindene mountains in Norway’s Romsdalen Valley. An awesome cliff face, with many activities to partake in to explore the Mountain like Hiking, base jumping, mountain climbing etc.

here you can find more info

TROLLSTIGEN

Trolls Path

Troll’s path Norway

A serpentine road that winds up the mountain, it is a very panoramic if maybe a little scary route. With its spectacular views it is understandably a major tourist attraction.

Again more info here

RAYNISDRANGAR

It does Kind off look like a Troll I guess

A huge rock formation said to be a Troll that turned to stone

TROLD-TINDTERNE

Troll Peaks, it is said to Troll armies was so involved in battle they didn’t not realise the sun was rising and thus turned to stone

For more info about the actual place you can visit here

TROLL ROCKS

How Did this boulder end up here in the middle off nowhere? A Troll of course

Huge boulders that is spread across the landscape where Trolls allegedly threw them at churches, here is an article detailing the best places to see these rocks.

STAVANGER

A Definite bucket list item

Troll forest, a beautiful awe inspiring forest behind the city of Stavanger, legend of once being the home of Trolls and maybe even modern sightings of one. If you need more information to visit this stunning place you can go here and here.


PROTECTION AGAINST TROLLS

Troll Cross, you buy one here at etsy. NO I don’t know the persons and is not endorsing it just found it on google 🙂

Apart from the already mentioned metal or steel to protect against Nokken, the calling of their name three times and other spells you can use there is the Troll Cross (TrollKors) it is an amulet that provides the wearer protection against Malevolent magic especially Troll magic. I am not exactly sure where you can get one or the specifics to make one but they do not look bad, I might wear one just for fashion, other benefits are a plus.


I hope this article was both enlightening and interesting. Please share and I would love to hear your opinions, comments or questions. Want more? Subscribe to stay up to date on all things new.

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