We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about Trolls.
Trolls are creatures in northern European, particularly Scandinavian folklore. They are usually depicted as large, strong, grotesquely ugly beings that are also somewhat slow and dim-witted, but in some older stories, they can appear more human and are often said to be old and wise.
Christianity came to Scandinavia relatively late, and trolls are said to have not taken the transition well. They never became Christianized, and as a result they usually live under hills far away from human habitations. They have some form of social structure, including kings and queens, but no one really knows much about it. In general, they mistrust humans and are dangerous to humans who encounter them, though sometimes they are involved in kidnapping and raising human children.
Because trolls are not very smart, many stories deal with humans getting away from them by outwitting them. Lightning will also frighten trolls away, as will the sound of church bells. There are even stories of trolls damaging or destroying churches under construction by throwing large stones at them. Trolls are nocturnal, and it is said that sunlight will turn them to stone. It is popular in Scandinavian countries to say that unusual rock formations are really petrified trolls.