Out of all the many mythical creatures mentioned in tales and legends worldwide, there is one far more popular than any other creature: trolls. They are found in the Harry Potter books, in the Lord of The Rings trilogy and in the NeverEnding Story, to mention a few. In this article, we will delve into the myths surrounding this fascinating creature in order to better understand and learn about them.
Just like many mythical beings, trolls are anthropomorphic, which means they somewhat resemble humans by having certain shared traits. Nevertheless, they are easy to differentiate from humans because they are somewhat disgusting and much hairier, having leafy beards and thick fur.
Trolls usually settle in mountains or forests and are believed to be evil and dangerous creatures, although sometimes they will peacefully frequent a man who manages to deceive them.
Trolls are also experts in the manufacturing of stone and metal objects and live in caves or below ground as they fear the sunlight. This is because sunlight turns them into stone, something they understandably want to avoid.
There are many misconceptions about how big trolls are, as they are sometimes described as huge beasts (taller than 5 metres), and sometimes as small as dwarves. Regarding how they look, there are mixed descriptions: some are said to have snouts which resemble that of boars, others are said to have horns, and some are even said to be bicephalous (having two heads).
In other tales, they do not have snouts but instead have prominent noses, and use them to stir the stews they cook.
The common denominator in all these tales is the poor intelligence they have, it doesn't matter how big they are, we always seem to be able to trick them easily. This is only possible as they have the ability to communicate with humans.
However, this isn't their only ability, these beings can also regenerate cells to heal quickly, on top of becoming invisible and travelling weightlessly with the wind.
As we mentioned earlier, trolls usually live in forests or mountains, and many of their stories have roots in Nordic countries. In the centre of Norway, there is a place called Trolltunga (troll tongue), this cliff is said to be the result of two troll armies which were turned to stone when the sun caught them by surprise. There is also a road in Norway called Trollstigen (the troll's road), one of the most perilous roads ever to exist.
In Sweden, there is a place called Trollhättan, which means troll's bonnet or troll's mountain peak, and Trollkyrka, which means troll's church and is a series of caves found in Tiveden National Park.
How much do you know about trolls? Read on to find out more about these fascinating creatures!
The Vikings believed that trolls were evil night spirits, giant beasts which embody the strength of the elements in their energy. According to legend, they commit all types of immoral acts, some merely unpleasant, some malicious and some very dangerous. These acts ranged from simply insulting humans to kidnapping and enslaving humans and sometimes even cooking humans.
When Christianity arrived in Sweden and Norway, two countries where legends about trolls were very popular, they were considered to be diabolical creatures and soon after, a cross which would protect you from them became very popular.
Nowadays, the troll's cross is still a very popular pendant in Scandinavian countries and can be found in collars and all types of amulets; they are a strong protective symbol against trolls and other creatures that lurk in the forest. The pendant is intended to protect the wearer, animals and homes against evil in general. This cross is easily recognized by its intertwining ends.
Even nowadays, trolls are still talked about in Scandinavian countries. They are no longer considered a giant, problematic beasts, but are spoken of when explaining the peculiar scenery. For example, if they were to find a giant rock in the middle of the forest, they would probably say it is there because a troll threw it.
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, trolls are anthropomorphic, but one of their main distinguishing features is that they only have four fingers on each hand and four toes on each foot.
They also have a tail, which they usually hide, and another distinguishing feature would be their eyes, as many trolls have been described as having one eye in the centre of the forehead, much like cyclopes.
It's best not to anger trolls, as they are said to have an immeasurable fury. They are enemies of everyone and everything, and can use their claws or teeth to attack.
In the year 2010, a Nordic film which paid homage to trolls in Scandinavian culture was aired. Known internationally as Trollhunter, it tells the story of three student filmmakers who follow a bear hunter.
What they weren't expecting is that this "bear hunter" actually hunts trolls, and is paid by the government to do so, as these creatures destroy bridges, electrical wiring and other infrastructures.
Although we have mentioned trolls' darkest and most violent side, they can also be lucky charms. At the end of the 1950s, the Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam created dolls depicting trolls but with colourful, fuzzy hair that constantly stuck up as their main characteristic. These trolls would become a worldwide phenomenon.
In the 60s, it became one of the highest selling toys in the USA, and since then has constantly fluctuated in and out of fashion. Nowadays they are called Dam dolls (after the creator), good luck trolls, and gonk trolls in the UK. In 2016, Hollywood released a film called Trolls in which these dolls were alive and had to rescue their friends from an enemy that wanted to eat them.