Norwegian Language Blog

Land of trolls Posted by on Jun 29, 2013 in Traditions

Trollet som grunner på hvor gammelt det er

A Norwegian troll (drawing by Theodor Kittelsen)

”Where can we see the trolls?” The two turister (tourists) from Asia looked surprised when I explained them that trolls were rather hard to find in the Norwegian natur [naTOOR]. I was working in a museum souvenir shop where the shelves were full of miniature reindeer, elks and … trolls. No wonder that they thought the artisans must have had some real-life troll models too! 🙂

If you look around you, there are troll everywhere in Norway. På fjellet (in the mountains), mange rare skapninger (many strange creatures) are waiting for you to see them. Trær med krokete røtter (trees with gnarled roots) seem to be silently watching your steps – as long as you are under tregrensa (below the tree line) and there are still trees on the mountain slopes. As you get closer to toppen (the summit) and you find yourselves climbing across naked klipper (rocks), you suddenly feel a strange presence. A solid shadow is standing in front of you i tåka (in the mist). Phew, it’s only a varde – a cairn that grows higher each time a hiker passes and adds another stein [stine] (stone). Or is it?

As you can probably guess, troll are an important part of Norwegian legender and eventyr [evenTEER] (fairy-tales). In the 19th century, story collectors Asbjørnsen og Moe (and their illustrator Theodor Kittelsen) helped making trolls famous, even in the cities far away from their natural mountain dwellings. From Asbjørnsen and Moe’s texts we learn that most trolls have haler (tails) and that they sprekker i sollys (crack in sunlight).

Have you seen the film Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter)? If you love trolls and Norwegian, it’s the perfect treat! Originally screened in 2010, it’s like a mix of The Blair Witch Project and Jurassic Park – with trolls instead of dinosaurs! Comedian Otto Jespersen stars at the ”troll hunter”, and the trolls are very much inspired by the classic drawings by Theodor Kittelsen… Okay, it might not be the world’s most serious film, but if you’re in the right (light!) mood, find some popcorn and embrace yourself for a shocking revelation: Trolls do exist.

Have you ever seen a troll?

An unofficial trailer for the film Trolljegerne.
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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Homebody at Heart:

    I had a troll doll as a child…I have watched Trollhunter (Trolljegeren), twice now on TV this week. I might buy the DVD. I think it would be a good study aid as it is in Norwegian with English subtitles plus it shows a lot of nice Norwegian landscapes.

  2. Rouillie Wilkerson:

    I’ve seen the movie, and favorited it on my facebook page. 🙂 Which reminds me of an expression we have here in the US to describe very unsavory individuals. We call them “trifling trolls.” After seeing the movie, it had even more meaning, lol. Thanks for keeping up this wonderful blog.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Rouillie Wilkerson Thanks for your comment, Roullie, it’s much appreciated! And I’m glad you got to see the movie. Yes, there are many trolls out there… 🙂

  3. Vanessa:

    I have known and play troll dolls when i was a kid,but not to the extend that it was really existing and good to learned it was part of Norwegian legends… Im so glad studying Norsk Culture it leads me to what is more beyond viking ages and precious tales of nature. ♥ thanks for a very informative blog here 😉

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Vanessa @Vanessa – Thanks for the comment! 🙂 I’m glad you like the blog.