Troll, legends and myths (2024)


Troll is a term used to describe various supernatural beings in Nordic folklore and storytelling traditions, and has roots in Norse mythology. Both appearance and characteristics can vary, but the creatures are often both dangerous and stupid. They tend to live in wilderness and areas inaccessible to man, such as mountain caves, dense forests and the ocean.

The troll legends are many and very old. Those we are familiar with today feature in fairytales and folklore – in particular in Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian folk tales from 1844 where the trolls often are the main characters.

Trolls were often described as strong, evil and dangerous giants. They were ugly, with large noses and eyes "the size of plates", and often had several heads or just one eye. Gods and humans were their enemies, and they were angered by the “smell of Christian blood”. Most lived in the mountains or in a distant, cold country, but trolls living in the ocean or forest also existed.

Hunderfossen Family Park, with trolls and legends as its theme, is the country's very own fairytale adventure park. The Hunderfossen troll towers 14 metres above ground, and is one of the most photographed in the world.

Troll, legends and myths (1)Peer Gynt’s troll

Trolls featured in Nordic literature, art and music during the Romantic period in the 1800s as well as later on. The most famous are maybe those in Theodor Kittelsen's fairytale illustrations and in Henrik Ibsen's dramatic poem Peer Gynt from 1867.

Inspired by Peer Gynt, Kittelsen drew his trolls with a cow's tail. In the poem, the main character meets trolls and mythical beings in Dovregubben's hall inside the mountain. The various creatures differ in appearance, such as having pigs' heads etc., but all the trolls have tails and this is something Peer will also get if he does "not leave the mountain, but shun the daylight". Traditionally, the tail was associated with the Hulder who belonged to a different "species", and Ibsen's play is believed to be the first time the trolls have tails.

Furthermore, Ibsen's troll king, Dovregubben, is not as stupid as trolls usually are. He asks Peer to figure out what the difference is between troll and man. The trolls have the saying "Be true to yourself, and to Hell with the world", and Peer Gynt adopt this as his motto.

Experience thePeer Gynt playat Gålå the first week in August.

Troll, legends and myths (2)

Nøkken (the Neck)

In old legends, the neck is a water spirit depicted as a frightening, evil creature which is related to both demons and the people of the underworld. He lives by the water's edge, and lures humans and animals into the water – especially after sunset, and is particularly dangerous to babies who have not been christened and pregnant women. However, he can also be a sad creature living in loneliness and complaining about not being able to receive salvation and go to heaven.

In the old tales, the neck is associated with luring people into the water to drown them, or as a ghost of the sea foreboding drownings, suicide, deaths and bad weather with his ugly screams or mournful groans. Many of the legends claim that the neck requires a victim every year before he is satisfied. In some stories he grabs hold of the ones about to drown and does not let go, and in others people drown and end up in beautiful green halls on the seabed.

These scary stories about the neck served two purposes. They kept children and the young away from dangerous lakes, wild animals and people they did not know, and were also a way to explain and deal with tragic drowning accidents, the unknown and the forces of nature.

The neck is often invisible, but can be shaped like a piece of wood, a raft or something else floating around. He may also go on land and take the shape of a horse or a person the get hold of his victims. Often he appears as an attractive young man, maybe a fiddler, with long hair, who seduces young women and lures them to their death. In many stories, the neck features in the shape of a stunning pale grey horse. He uses enchanting song and music to spellbind his victims. He is sometimes a fiddler, and sometimes he plays the harp.

Huldra (the Hulder)

In Norwegian folklore, the Hulder is a supernatural seductive female creature. The plural form, huldrer, is also used for the people of the underworld. In recent history, she is a young girl with thick golden hair and a cow's tail. This is an image created by Norwegian artists illustrating supernatural creatures in the 1800s. In descriptions dating further back, she varies in appearance.

Troll, legends and myths (2024)


Troll, legends and myths? ›

troll, in early Scandinavian folklore, giant, monstrous being, sometimes possessing magic powers. Hostile to men, trolls lived in castles and haunted the surrounding districts after dark. If exposed to sunlight they burst or turned to stone.

What is the mythology behind trolls? ›

They have roots in Norse mythology and are featured heavily in the fairy tales of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. The word 'troll' likely originated from the Norwegian words for witches and witchcraft, which were trollfolk and trolldom, respectively.

What do trolls symbolize? ›

In literature and folklore, trolls are often depicted as ugly, aggressive creatures who live in caves or mountains and are known for their love of mischief and trickery. They are typically seen as symbols of chaos and disruption, and are often associated with the wild and untamed aspects of nature.

What kills trolls in mythology? ›

Trolls are repelled by lightning, which kills them instantly. Likely the reason is their run-ins with Thor, who is said to have hunted trolls across the land. Some legends certify that trolls turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.

What is a female troll called? ›

Some troll stories, however, have trolls who are kind and wise, and doing a good deed for a troll may well earn you a fortune. A female troll is called a skessa.

What powers do trolls have? ›

There are tales of trolls shapeshifting or changing into rocks; truth is, their powers vary widely among the different species. The more prevalent human-like trolls enjoy enhanced hearing, sight and smell, as well as a keen sense of approaching danger.

What is the evil thing in trolls? ›

The Chef is the former chef of the Bergen Palace and the main antagonist in the DreamWorks film, Trolls. Chef never was the same after the Trolls escaped Bergen Town. She had it all: a sterling reputation, throngs of admirers, and a coveted spot in the Royal Kitchen. In a way, she was happy.

Are trolls good luck or bad luck? ›

Trolls may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of cute and lovable creatures for kids, but in Scandinavia, trolls are considered to be lucky. The reason they are lucky is because Scandinavians once believed that nothing bad can happen to you when you are laughing.

What do trolls do to humans? ›

The trolls have little ability for self-reliance, and thus often steal materials from humans. They are also cannibalistic, usually eating their own when one is either wounded or dying. Trolls also eat humans and livestock, usually during raids.

What is the message of trolls? ›

Trolls is cute, it's colorful, it has tons of catchy songs, and the messages are positive and easy to understand (happiness is inside everyone, if you know where/how to find it, and you shouldn't have to change who you are to get someone to like you).

What do trolls hate? ›

Trolls were often described as strong, evil and dangerous giants. They were ugly, with large noses and eyes "the size of plates", and often had several heads or just one eye. Gods and humans were their enemies, and they were angered by the “smell of Christian blood”.

What does a troll mean spiritually? ›

The word troll may have been used by pagan Norse settlers in Orkney and Shetland as a collective term for supernatural beings who should be respected and avoided rather than worshipped.

What do trolls fear? ›

According to the film Trollhunter from 2010:

Because there was only one thing that could scare a real troll: The sunlight. If they didn't hide in time, the first rays of the sunlight would turn them into stone.

What are trolls weaknesses? ›

Trolls were strong and vicious, but generally dim-witted. Some were described as being able to speak, while others appear to be as irrational as animals. The major weakness of at least some trolls was that they turned to stone in sunlight. Their hide was as thick as stone and nigh-impervious to physical attacks.

How do trolls give birth? ›

Troll Eggs are also kept in the hair of the Troll, and thus Troll babies are born from the safety of their parents' hair. This is seen in both the Pop Trolls and Country Trolls. Not all the Trolls are able to use their hair in the same way, and thus not all Tribes can make their hair work the same way as another Tribe.

How tall are trolls? ›

Typical physical characteristics. The average troll stands nine feet high and weighs roughly 500 pounds, though females tend to be a bit larger than males. The hide of trolls is rubbery, and usually either moss green, putrid grey, or mottled gray and green.

What is trolls based on? ›

Trolls is a 2016 American animated jukebox musical comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox, based on the Good Luck Trolls dolls created by Thomas Dam.

What is the history of trolls dolls? ›

They originated all the way over in Denmark in the 1950s. The Danish company was started by a man named Thomas Dam after his wife encouraged him to try selling the wooden dolls he had been carving for his children. He called them Good Luck Trolls and they quickly became popular.

What is the point of trolls? ›

The behavior is typically for the troll's amusem*nt, or to achieve a specific result such as disrupting a rival's online activities or purposefully causing confusion or harm to other people. Trolling behaviors involve tactical aggression to incite emotional responses, which can adversely affect the target's well-being.

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