by: Irene Davis
This month I am writing about Trolls. I think the best way to start is by describing what trolls look like. Trolls were believed to be giants, and the biggest of all of them was Douregubben (their king in the mountain Dovre). Trolls were shaggy with rough hair, and have tree and moss-like growths on their heads and noses. Their noses were long and were used to stir when they cooked broth or porridge. Some trolls had two or three heads. Others had one eye in the middle of their foreheads. They had four fingers and four toes, and had a tail that resembled a cow’s tail. Trolls lived to be hundreds of years old, but died and turned to stone when the sun caught them. They looked very frightening, but were often good natured and very naive.
In Norway, in dark forests, moonlit lakes, deep fjords, and snow capped mountains you would find trolls. The trolls were night creatures. It is well advised to keep a good standing with the trolls. Anyone could possibly be taken by the trolls, including cattle. Women who recently gave birth and have not gone back to church were most at risk though. Occasionally, the trolls would even steal the new-born babies, and would leave their own offspring in return. Trolls, sometimes, abducted people to live as their slaves. These poor souls were known as bertagna (those taken to/by the mountain).
Many of the fairytales featuring trolls were written in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The Norwegian work for folktale is "eventyr." As a rule of thumb, what is called a troll in Norway is a giant in Sweden and Denmark. However, what is called trolls in southern Sweden and Denmark would be called "huldrefolk" in Norway, and "vitterfolk" in Northern Sweden.
Trolls mainly kept themselves invisible. They could travel on the wind, and sneak into human homes. Sometimes you could only hear them speak, shout, and make noise, or you could hear the sound of their cattle. If you were out in the forest and smelled food cooking, then you would know that you were near a troll dwelling. The trolls were great shapelifters- taking the shape of an object like fallen logs or animals. Larger trolls often appeared as a solitary being, and the smaller trolls were thought to be social beings who lived together, much like humans- only in the forest. They kept animals, cooked and baked, were excellent at making crafts, and held great feasts. They hoarded gold and treasures in their living quarters.
Trolls could cause great harm when they were vindictive or playful. Trolls were great theives as well, and liked to steal food from the farmers food storage. Since they could be invisible, they would enter human homes during feasts and eat from the plates so there would not be enough food, or spoil the making of beer and bread.
So basiclly, trolls are legendary creatures who liked to steal from and kidnap humans. It would be very wise to stay on the good side of a troll, and leave "treats" out for them so they won’t spoil your food!