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The Secret Life of Trolls

I've been passionate about world mythology since my Great Aunt Nell gave me 'The Age of Fable' by Bullfinch for my 9th birthday.

Typical Ugly Trolls

Typical Ugly Trolls

The Grisly Truth about the Trolls of the North

The truth about Trolls is ugly. Yes, ugly. For Trolls are ugly, malicious creatures who will never be anything but the enemies of mortals.

These fearsome, baleful and evil minded creatures are from the mythology of the wild northern lands, fiendish giants related to Ogres.

You may read of a Troll here and there who is not quite as spiteful as the rest, you may hear whispers of a Troll who seemed friendly enough to humans, but pay no attention!

Trolls are not friendly, they are nasty vicious beings and the only way to treat a Troll is to run .. as fast as you can! And never look back!

How to Recognise a Troll

Pay close attention ...

Trolls are much bigger than us, somewhat like a huge, ugly, mossy giant, and much stronger, awfully, terribly, horribly strong.

If you are unfortunate enough to bump into a Troll and have one shocked moment to see his face (or faces), you will notice the long, warty nose, the grotesque reddened eyes and the twisted, slavering mouth.

You may also notice that the Troll has more than one head.

If this isn't enough to turn your heart inside out and your bowels to water, remember that Trolls eat people!

Your only hope (if your legs haven't turned to jelly) is to flee forthwith.

If you see this Troll - run!

Run! Run now!

Run! Run now!

Trolls have moved to the Wild Mountains

A Warning to Hikers

Before 1850 Sweden, Denmark and Southern Norway were mainly rural areas and Trolls lived, in a truce of sorts, with the local communities.

For trolls, half of the fun in life was to maliciously blight the crops, steal fat cows and exchange their ugly troll children for bonny golden- haired human babies.

But this part of the world is industrialised nowadays and the Trolls have mostly taken to living in the wild mountains. Beware! This is no guarantee of safety!

For the most part, the Trolls live in the deep forests or in caves in the untamed mountains, and we can feel comfortable knowing that they are far away from us, and not seen by many. This is indeed fortunate as the last thing you want to meet while enjoying a hike in the woods is a Troll.

If you're very, very brave ....

Then again, it's worth remembering that Trolls often guard a dazzling treasure hoard.

If you have a strong stomach, and a sun-lamp, you may find riches beyond dreams of avarice!

A Troll turned to Stone by a Sun Lamp

A Troll turned to Stone by a Sun Lamp

A Troll turned to Stone by a Sun Lamp

Scroll to Continue

Oh No! Taken by Trolls!

Be ever vigilant

In all Scandinavian languages there is a word which literally means 'taken to the mountain', used, in modern parlance, in the sense of 'bewitched', and the theme of being stolen away to the Troll Mountain is very popular in literature and art.

An English equivalent is "taken by the fairies". Not quite the same as "away with the fairies". but closely related. If you've been abducted by trolls and managed to get away from the freakish creatures, you will be absent-minded, distrait and unheeding of those who want to help you.

At one time, if a villager disappeared in the woods, it was obvious that the Trolls were involved. But this isn't past history - it happens today! The modern generation has forgotten the truth.

Recorded Abductions by Trolls

Until the beginning of the 17th century, Swedish churches in the countryside registered people who had mysteriously disappeared as being abducted by Trolls.

Don't let anyone convince you that these good folk were merely lost, or eaten by bears, for the truth is that they really did fall into the clutches of nasty Trolls.

For that matter, church records also show many people who had lost their way in the woods for a day or two and suffering loss of memory had also been abducted by Trolls. And who are we to argue with the Swedish clergy?

The Danger is still there!

These days the abductions are not so common, but the danger has only lessened, not disappeared. Trolls are still kidnapping people!

An inordinate number of fair maidens, up to and including princesses, are captured by Trolls and kept prisoner in a dismal dungeon or a damp cave (which is infinitely worse).

Luckily, Trolls tend to be somewhat stupid, so heroes can outsmart them and save the fair maiden or princess.


Trolls in Modern Stories

Watered down for the kiddies

In Swedish children's literature nowadays, Trolls are not portrayed as naturally evil, merely as primitive and misunderstood.

It's said that the misdeeds of Trolls are due to a combination of basic and common human traits, such as envy, pride, greed, ignorance and stupidity.

Don't be fooled! Trolls are naturally evil.

It's not fashionable these days to frighten children with stories of Trolls, we are soft and pampered in this modern age, but the Trolls are still in the mountains .. waiting.

The Boy Who Cried Troll

Don't be like Bjorn, the boy who cried Troll.

Once there was a little boy named Bjorn. He lived with his little old grandmother in a small cottage outside of the village and, everyday, Bjorn would walk to the field to guard the sheep from the trolls.

He hated going to that field everyday, because it was so boring and lonesome, and one day Bjorn thought, I wonder what people would do if I cried "TROLL".

So Bjorn ran towards the village screaming,"Troll, troll! There is a troll in the field and he's eating up the sheep!"

Everyone ran to the field, only to find that there were no trolls, while Bjorn laughed and laughed.

Bjorn's grandmother scolded him and told him never to lie to people again. "You should be thankful that people came up here to help you." Grandmother scolded, "Someday, you will understand what a good thing it is to have friends who trust you!"

But Bjorn didn't learn. The next day, Bjorn yelled," TROLL,TROLL" and the people came and started looking for the troll. Needless to say, they were pretty cross with Bjorn and his lies.

On the third day, while watching the sheep, a troll came and grabbed Bjorn! Bjorn yelled "TROLL,TROLL" but no one came to help, they were sick of the foolish prank, and the troll gobbled up the young boy.

The moral of this story is Don't Lie for if you do, a troll will come and gobble you up


But what about Troll Dolls?

I can hear you ask ....

Troll Dolls are, of course, extremely ugly (collectors claim the ugliness to be part of the charm of the doll) with huge ears, a potbelly, no forehead and long strands of sheep's wool for hair.

Danes believed the dolls were so ugly that you had to laugh at them and if you were laughing, nothing bad could happen to you.

Soon the dolls became a source of good luck to people around the world and, in the late 1960s, Troll Dolls were the second largest selling dolls in the United States.

There is simply no accounting for taste!

A Most Necessary Troll for your Computer

Example of a non-threatening Troll

Is a Dose of Bad Luck haunting your computer?

You must always be wary of computer misfortune. In these modern times, mishaps and malfunctions of the home PC are blamed on Gremlins, but this is far from the truth.

Gremlins are indeed mischievous, impish tricksters who once vexed the farmers of Scotland and then moved on to meddling with aircraft. It's believed that they still like to manipulate machinery but computers have never interested them.

Inexplicable trouble with your PC can be traced to Pixies, those impertinent, obstructive busybodies who delight in tampering and tinkering.

This is why you need a dedicated Computer Troll! No self-respecting Pixie can bear to be in the presence of a troll. Luckily, you can have your own troll to safeguard your precious computer.


Troll Dolls can help ward off REAL Trolls

Better to be Safe than Sorry

It's a strange thing. While the REAL Trolls want to eat you, these miniature versions of the Norwegian fiends bring luck to certain areas of your home. I believe that they frighten off pernicious pixies who so enjoy plundering your kitchen and pillaging your laundry.

Sometimes mysterious things go awry in my kitchen, the gravy will turn into peculiar lumps, the pastry inexplicably refuse to rise and the milk will curdle. Pixies will spitefully spoil the last of the laundry powder and steal my socks. I need a Lucky Troll Doll to combat these dire events!

These little Troll Dolls (Dam Dolls) have never lost popularity in Europe. You need a Troll Doll to keep your home in good running order.

A famous Troll

One famous, or more correctly 'infamous', troll is Grendel, the grinder of bones. The name says it all.

The story of Grendel is pure horror although the hero wins out in the end. Yes, some trolls can be slain, but you need to be a hero to manage such a deed.

If only we had more heroes!

The Story of Beowulf and Grendel

In the Faroe Islands, in Orkney and Shetland, trolls may be called trows. But don't be fooled, they are still trolls!

Trolls of the Orkneys

In the Faroe Islands, in Orkney and Shetland, trolls may be called trows. But don't be fooled, they are still trolls!

The superb website, Orkneyjar, dedicated to the preserving, exploring and documenting the ancient history, folklore and traditions of Orkney.

Orkneyjar is created and maintained by Orcadian, Sigurd Towrie.

An Ancestor Cult?

Modern Theories on Trolls

It has been said that Trolls represent the last vestige of an ancestor-cult, common throughout Skandinavia until Christianity came to the region.

Family forebears were worshiped in sacred groves, by altars, biers and gravemounds. One of the customs associated with this practice was to sit on top of a gravemound at night, possibly in order to make contact with the deceased, But, when the priests arrived with the new Christian religion, all reference to these earlier long-held beliefs was demonised.

In the 13th century it was decreed illegal to attempt to wake the "mound-dwellers" in the sacred groves. (Warning : Don't even think of trying ......)

Disregard these modern theories. Or the Trolls will get you!

In the Hall of the Mountain King

Peer Gynt and the King of the Trolls

Under the Mountains in the Hall of the Troll King

After some bizarre actions and their consequences, Peer, the anti-hero, wanders the wild mountains of Norway. He meets three amorous dairy-maids who are waiting to be courted by trolls, gets drunk with them and spends the next day alone with a severe hangover.

He comes across a woman clad in green who turns out to be the daughter of the Troll Mountain King. Together they ride into the mountain hall, and the Troll King gives Peer the choice of becoming a troll if Peer is to marry his daughter. Peer agrees to a number of issues, but withdraws in the end.

The music In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt is a well known melody although many may not know the actual name of the piece. Did you?

The Full, Fantastic Tale of Peer Gynt

  • Peer Gynt - The Story
    From wikipedia, an article about the play, Peer Gynt, by Henrik Ibsen. What a story!

Slow Down, Trolls Crossing


Don't be fooled!

These days the Troll is seen as a humorous phenomenon, a childish symbol of fears, or the subject of doctoral dissertations. But don't be fooled.! They are as malevolent and wicked as they ever were.

Once a troll, always a troll

Share your opinion on Trolls. Are we safe?

Are Trolls still hiding in the Wild Norwegian Mountains?

The Secret Life of Leprechauns
There is much nonsense spoken of leprechauns, some mistaken, some misguided and some deliberately misleading. Many are the tales of intoxication, wild revel...

The Secret Life of Fairies
My great grandmother warned me about fairies. Some are kind, and beautiful, she said, while others are hostile to mortals. Fairies are not little Tinkerbell...

© 2008 Susanna Duffy

Troll Talk - (Be careful what you say, trolls can sometimes read)

Anthony Alonso Steinbrenner on October 17, 2019:

Hello there my name is anthony any how at the time i came in counter with some type of human or troll like creature at the time i lived in los angeles area . I was in south pasadena and noticed as i was passing threw in a car of course there was a school up the street but when i turned my head i seen this very short hunched over long hair almost native american but when i made eye contact it or that thing was nothing normal it gave look like he did not belong in that neighborhood . I will never forget the true ugly feeling that thing gave me hes face was troll like and even the way he walked . It was as if i new what it was or up to some how . I was in teens at the time and the year was 1998 . Also there are alot of bridges and trees in pasadena california. Thank u i reallly do belive in many mysteriouse cultures and shamanism is something i try to learn threw my culture of azteca and native american . God bless . And i will stay away from moutains

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on September 15, 2014:

Never did like those weird little troll dolls.

Monika Weise from Indianapolis, IN USA on September 15, 2014:

My youngest daughter firmly believed that her father had slain a troll by exposing it to sunlight and turning it into stone. She was quite angry when, in the second grade, the teacher broke the news to her that there were no such things as trolls. Poor kid :)

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 21, 2014:

I've never felt the same about bridges after reading The Three Billy Goats Gruff as a kid.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on January 21, 2014:

I have been by this before but I am forgetful in my old age so it is like visiting it for the first time. It is still just as enjoyable the second time around : )

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on January 21, 2014:

Back to say I love this page! It's important to understand these things. Thank you for educating us!

mariacarbonara on August 05, 2013:

Fascinating lens. Although I never liked the look of the troll dolls

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on June 16, 2013:

My sister and I loved those little troll dolls back in the 60s. My daughters had a few in the 2000s too. Their popularity never dies out.

Echo Phoenix on July 15, 2012:

I loved the troll dolls but perhaps I should have been a wee bit more cautious with my heart! lol

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on June 29, 2012:

I had many Troll dolls when I was young...maybe that explains my strange behavior!

VigilantChef LM on February 14, 2012:

When I was a boy my Dad had a book of Trolls, this brought back a lot of fun memories. Thank-you :)

Rose Jones on February 04, 2012:

Susanna Duffy - you are an interesting person. If I ever make it to down under I will definitely invite you out for a cup of tea. I knew none of this about trolls, except that they were ugly.

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 26, 2012:

@Redneck Lady Luck: Don't be fooled. They were taken by trolls!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on January 26, 2012:

My daughter collected the little good luck trolls when she was young so this lens always brings back many memories for me. Around the Vancouver area there are tales of people being taken by the Sasquatch. Who knows what hides deep in remote areas.

LouisaDembul on January 16, 2012:

I just love the illustration of John Bauer. Remember reading lots of stories about trolls when small, with his pictures in the book. Used to scare me terribly, but was so exciting at the same time.

kimmanleyort on January 15, 2012:

I am glad to know that trolls are somewhat stupid and can be outwitted. However, I still wouldn't want to cross paths after reading your lens. Beautifully written.

Inkhand on January 15, 2012:


John Dyhouse from UK on January 13, 2012:

What a fun lens really enjoyed it, new to this series of lenses but will be reading more soon. Please accept an angels blessing to keep the Trolls away.

Barbara Walton from France on January 08, 2012:

I love your pictures and, although not previously terribly interested in trolls, I'm much more interested now. What about the troll scene in Harry Potter? No videos on YouTube?

MayaBella LM on January 07, 2012:

Very cool And some really neat illustrations!

MayaBella LM on January 07, 2012:

Very cool And some really neat illustrations!

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 07, 2012:

@newbizmau: You can still run! Unless, of course, your legs have turned to jelly

Maurice Glaude from Mobile on January 07, 2012:

Oh dear if I ever see a Troll and my bowels turn to water,!

BuddyBink on January 07, 2012:

Wonderful. Keeping a wary eye out for those trolls who may have been able to cross the pond.

RLWalker LM on January 07, 2012:

I hope there are no aspiring trolls reading this lol! Rich creative lens, wanted more at the end.

Tattoo_News on January 06, 2012:

This is awesome!! Love the pics and now are seriously going to track trolls in the mountains!

nestboxes on January 06, 2012:

What an unusual lens. Fantastic idea and really interesting spin on trolls

hntrssthmpsn on January 06, 2012:

Thank you for your contribution to my family's troll safety awareness!

sheezie77 on January 06, 2012:

it was very enjoyable and entertaining read!!

tq01089 on January 05, 2012:

great looking and interesting lens

GarrettMickley on January 05, 2012:

This was a truly interesting and entertaining read. Not to mention, the artwork you found was stunning.

toldyaso lm on January 05, 2012:

Will I get a day off from work if a troll abducts me? If so, I'm in!

Clairissa from OREFIELD, PA on January 04, 2012:

Awwwwww that explains what happened to my 17 year old daughter. :)

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 04, 2012:

@Tom Maybrier: It's as I say - trolls are still abducting people

Tom Maybrier on January 04, 2012:

My cousin was abducted by trolls.

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 03, 2012:

@LabKittyDesign: A mockumentary that painted trolls in a flattering light. Don't believe it.

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 03, 2012:

@AznMichael: Always take trolls seriously or they will eat you

AznMichael on January 03, 2012:

ummm is this lens serious? i thought it was just sarcastically about internet trolls

LabKittyDesign on January 03, 2012:

No mention of Trollhunter? Seems like a movie you'd like. :-)

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on January 03, 2012:

I am told hikers have been abducted and eaten in these mountains where I live. Only their backpacks were found afterwards in a rustic old camp. Makes you wonder. Perhaps a troll migration has begun. Go west, young troll, go west.

anonymous on January 03, 2012:

Trolls - hopefully I can get through today without meeting one. Fun lens.

Julia Morais on January 03, 2012:

Never met anyone abducted by a troll. Great read. :)

Julia Morais on January 03, 2012:

Never met anyone abducted by a troll. Great read. :)

lasertek lm on January 02, 2012:

Thanks for sharing.

baby-strollers on January 02, 2012:

Disgusting and informative - very creative lens.

Ken Parker from Tacoma, Wa on January 02, 2012:

I know a troll it's my mother in law. Great lens.

totalhealth on January 02, 2012:

i din't know that trolls have an interesting story, what i know about trolls are the adorable troll dolls and i refuse to believe that they are ugly.

Jennifer P Tanabe from Red Hook, NY on January 02, 2012:

As far as I know I haven't met a troll, at least not yet. I did have one of those troll dolls back in the day though! Blessed

Holley Web on January 02, 2012:

I think my teen is sometimes possessed by the troll nature and he has enormous feet....hmmmm., something to consider ;) This gave me huge smiles today. Happy New Year!

anonymous on January 02, 2012:

I believe in trolls, but I never want to meet one!

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 01, 2012:

@HealthfulMD: Oh dear, I hope not. Moomintroll are known to be particularly pernicious!

Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on January 01, 2012:

Terrific Trolls. I believe that the Finnish Moomins are also Trolls (Moomintroll). New Year's Blessings for the Trolls (I hope it won't set them off).

Edutopia on January 01, 2012:

This one time I got mad at my younger brother and the troll king took him away and I had to truck through his stupid annoying labyrinth to get my brother back before my parents came home. It was a close one too, I would have been in deep if my brother was missing.

pheonix76 from WNY on January 01, 2012:

This is a fun lens, thanks for sharing with us! I will be on the lookout for trolls from now on. :) My dad used to read my sister and I a story about a troll which lived under a bridge in the mountains. It was called "Three Billy Goats Gruff." Cheers and happy new year!

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 01, 2012:

@jimmyworldstar: I believe that Trolls are now a protected species (at least in Sweden) and if by some chance (great ill fortune) one is sighted, you just have to run (as fast as you can) and not shoot.

jimmyworldstar on January 01, 2012:

I highly doubt they exist and if they did, they wouldn't come to America! If I'm not mistaken most people in Sweden are armed so I doubt they'll be an issue if you decide to shoot them.

SquidooPower on December 23, 2011:

Cute lens. We need more like this.

lilymom24 on December 07, 2011:

I love the way you put this lens together. It was very informative and fun. =)

Mona from Iowa on November 16, 2011:

This was delightful and I loved the illustration art.

WriterJanis2 on November 15, 2011:

Very informative! I never knew much about trolls, so your lens really helped.

WriterJanis2 on November 15, 2011:

Very informative! I never knew much about trolls, so your lens really helped.

Iudit Gherghiteanu from Ozun on November 07, 2011:

i am so thrilled now, but i would try to check them out in the in the Norvegian Mountains. fantastic story.

anonymous on October 22, 2011:

Super lens, and I aced the quiz, that's a first. I used to collect the Troll dolls in my teens, they were quite popular in Britain back then :) Blessed, but not by a Troll.

C A Chancellor from US/TN on October 16, 2011:

Fun lens! I don't know if you've read any of Terry Pratchett's novels, but there are plenty of trolls inhabiting the Discworld. I like his Troll system of counting: one, two, many, lots. :-D

adamfrench on October 15, 2011:

Impressive lens, thumbs up

GypsyLyric LM on October 07, 2011:

I can thankfully say that I have never been abducted by trolls. And, now I feel prepared to be vigilant in keeping an eye out for the buggers. Thanks for helping me protect myself.

katemiya on October 04, 2011:

I am so afraid of the Fremont Troll that I never took a picture of him!

fugeecat lm on October 04, 2011:

well there was that one weekend i can't remember the details about so i guess its possible.

BoyScoutPopcorn on September 15, 2011:

Have you heard about the troll under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle? It even has its own road that leads to it.

Pip Gerard on September 02, 2011:

I love the way you write and your sense of humour. Coming to one of your lenses is always a delight Susan. Hope you're well. â¥â¥

SandyPeaks on September 01, 2011:

Delightful! Congrats on the purple star!

Jenny Campbell from Melbourne, Australia on August 31, 2011:

This is a really excellent lens and deserves the purple star

Margaret Schaut from Detroit on August 31, 2011:

If you are born 'under the bridge' here in Michigan, you're a troll. I was born in Detroit (where the weak are killed and eaten) and therefore a troll! Wow, perhaps you're right about eating people, though its a food group I had never considered. Wonderful page, thanks!

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on August 31, 2011:

How fun! And interesting. I think they're kinda cute, actually ... and look a bit too much like my man. Hmm....

Paul from Liverpool, England on August 31, 2011:

Excellent lens on trolls. I believe one or two have learned to cut their hair and become governor of Texas.

anonymous on August 31, 2011:

Never though learning about trolls. Now the secret life of trolls is in the open.

Too much fun! Loved it Susanna.

Richard from Surrey, United Kingdom on August 31, 2011:

I think we've all encountered some trolls at one time or another ;) Congrats on the PS!

Karnel from Lower Mainland of BC on August 31, 2011:

Congratulations on the purple star

sidther lm on August 31, 2011:

What a fun lens about Trolls! I love how you did this- Congrats on the well deserved Purple Star!

Brandi from Maryland on August 31, 2011:

Congrats on your Purple Star! :)

traveller27 on August 31, 2011:

Very cool lens - loved reading about the trolls.

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on July 21, 2011:

It is always cool to meet mythological creature. Thanks!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 13, 2011:

Lol...I will definitely have to be careful when I am venturing into the woods from this day onward. I am now warned ;)

jeffreysanford on February 17, 2011:

Wonderful lens! I will use fantastic techniques that you have used in presenting this information as I continue to learn and write. Your writing style is nothing but endearing, extremely informative yet with a wonderful story telling fashion, you made me want a troll! I will be but a meager snack for them... Thanks for a wonderful lens!

anonymous on October 11, 2010:

All I know is that I never want to meet a Troll, you've made me realize that they really are mean and nasty. Lensrolled to my Troll Costume lens.

Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on February 15, 2010:

I love the lens but I'm sure I wouldn't like a troll if I met one. I'm staying away from those Norwegian mountains.

anonymous on January 01, 2010:

Great lens - along with your other Secret Lives Series

Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on December 30, 2009:

Well done! Is that troll crossing sign real? Blessed by an angel.

CleanerLife on October 31, 2009:

Oh, wow! Some of those troll pictures really take me back! I remember seeing them in some book, or books as a child, but haven't thought of them in years! Thanks, I've just been transported back to my grade school years!

Dianne Loomos on October 27, 2009:

Enjoyed reading this very well written lens on Trolls. Blessed!

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on December 03, 2008:

I am so in love with this lens. Lensrolling to my Trollbeads lenses and my Norway lenses.

WhitU4ever on December 01, 2008:

Great photos... and fun stories... I especially liked the music vid!

AslanBooks on November 30, 2008:

Very interesting lens...I have a friend who is a professional artist who creates incredible surrealist paintings. Faces in trees, trolls, name it.

LucyVet on November 30, 2008:

Fun lens! I love learning about mythology. I never did like those dolls though!

James20 on November 28, 2008:

Interesting, my sister years back had some of those troll dolls. I did not know that some had two heads.


ChristiannaGarrett-Martin on November 26, 2008:

Another very interesting lens from you! Nasty Trolls! I have a few of the toys, but they are made to look cute. A True Troll is obviously very nasty indeed!;)

Great Lens.


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