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Wednesday 18 July 2012

Scandinavian Trolls

Message sent to me from Andrea Machler:
Hey Dale,
I just stubeled upon a conversation in one of the grpoups I'm in. They brought up the topic of Trolls in Skandinavia after someone found the article about the troll footprint on Bigfoot Evidence. I thought you might be interested in a snippet of this conversation.

Recent Trolltrack, also seen on Bigfoot Evidence

Here's what one of the members wrote:
"I went to school with a known Dj in Sweden , we hung out a lot and his mom showed me a photo her grandfather took over the local lake during the winter , it was a genuine photo that was kept in her family album along with portrait photos etc and you could clearly see one walking over the frozen ice on the lake , taken on a clear day but in black n white. No photoshop back then . Sounds like crazy shit but it did have an effect on me as to keep an open mind . I dont take everything seriously but I do accept that anything is possible. Life itself is a wonderful miracle and there are plenty of weird little things out there we can't even grasp ."

He was the asked: "That's awesome Erik! Did it look like the "standard" North-american bigfoot? Or more like "The Abominable Snowman" you think? Would be interesting to know."

And answered: "You would be surprised to hear it looked like the dude in your post up there , that cartoonist is pretty damn close . I know the lake well like the back of my hand and all the forest surrounding it for miles , to judge the size I would give a rough estimate of two meters tall but tricky enough as it was hunched over when walking , the only thing that makes me think they are not big foots is the other two mates that swore their troll was a large rock/boulder that turned into a troll and stood up and walked off away from where they were . The guys mentioned in both stories are people a trust my life with ."

This is the cartoon he's talking about

Greetings [Andrea]


As to the creature looking like a rock or a tree stump before it moved, that occurs in North American Bigfoot stories. Apparantly the creatures can sit very still indeed in hops of escaping notice and with their backs turned sitting down, they do not immediately look like living humanoid creatures.

Another Troll image is provided on the cover of the book:

and this is pretty much a representation of a "Wild Man" costume as worn in festivals throughout Europe, the whole body garbed in a coverall sort of garment that represents a close over-all coat of hair.Trolls are also traditionally barefoot but not necessarily so.

There are Scandinavian travel sites which helpfully provide traditional images of Troll tracks, basically of the same outline expected for large Neanderthal tracks. The ones at top are scaled for a 7 1/2 foot tall Troll and a more normal human sized "Wood Nymph" with basically the ordinary type of human foot.
Troll tracks are also traditionally printed around town in chalk during festivals and one of the representations in chalk is shown below the ordinary track outlines (This has only three toes but preserves the very broad and square outline of the tracks)
 I have seen enough of these that I think it can be said these are not unusual or atypical representations-the idea is that Troll Tracks really are supposed to look that big and squared off  (One site used a typical Bigfoot footprint cast from Texas to illustrate the Troll Tracks)
The same sort of tracks are also associated with the usual European "Wildman" representations and so there is likely continuity through that tradition also.Ultimately the traditonal tracks seem to come by way of tracks represented by being pecked into stone surfaces as ancient rock art. (Compare Troll footprint design charm bead as pictured below in a copied form according to the originating site)

Some pertinent Wildman images for Reference:

Left, Traditional Wildman,often associated with Scandinavian countries including on churches. My photosearch turned up a similar modern statue situated in Lappland (Northern Sweden part) At right, representation of Wildman probably based on performance costume, showing onepiece coverall pattern leaving hands and feet uncovered. Some depictions of Trolls seem to show this sort of conventionalisation and it is understood generally throughout Europe as implying the actual thing through its theatrical re-enactment. Below are a couple of illustrations for Skogsras, the term itself means both the male and the female but more usually it is taken to mean the shortened form for the female-only (Skogsfru) and they are to be understood as something like the Classical Satyrs. They could be wearing animal furs with the tails still attached as many people were known to do historically in other places (Including the Egyptians) Frequently they are also shown with twigs, sticks and leaves entangled in their hair and especially the long hair that hangs down their back.


  1. Hi.
    I´m a Swede that have studied folklore for a couple of decades and there are some points to make about trolls.
    The trolls in the pictures are very typical of the type found in childrens books from the nineteenth century uptil today. That has become the "official" version of them today. However that kind of troll are not like the trolls people actually believed in. These trolls are actually pretty human, wear clothes, have language, live in societies, have laws, cook their food etc. They are not hairy monsters, nor apelike. To the contarary they looks like ordinary humans, sometimes even more beutiful than real humans. Especially the female trolls are wellknown for their good looks and fancy clothes. However they were magic creatures that changed shape or became invisible often, or appeared as animals.
    So there is no similarities at all between bigfoot or other cryptids and trolls. To make a case of that based on modern portraits removed far off from real folklore, created by artists who see them as strictly fairytale creatures,are not good science.Try learn from the real folklore instead,since people actually believed that was true stories. Kittelsen or Jon Bauer did not.
    These illustrations have had a huge impact and undoubtly affected people to "know" what a troll should look like, but again that is neither traditional nor ancient.
    So there is no old traditions about Bigfoot-type creatures in Scandinavia,but perhaps trolls:-)
    Äring och fred.
    Håkan L

  2. Hello, Thank you for writing. I am well aware of your criticism and I can assure yyou that you are quite wriong. The depictions quite clearly arise from other "Wild Man" depictions common throughout Europe since the Dark Ages and including Scandinavia. If you are going to tell me there were no depictions of Hairy Wild Men (including giant ones) in Sweden in particular and in Scandinavia in general from at least the 1400s-1500s on, you would be quite mistaken! the traditional form of Skogsras (Wood Trolls) was with a naked body cocered with hair and Grendel in Boewulf is only another kind of Troll.

    On the other hand there is another kind of misconception here at work as well, I am not saying that Trolls would be the same as the Sasquatch portrayed in the Patterson-Gimlin Film, I am something much more akin to the Siberian ChuChuunaas, and the track as illustrated by the CryptoCrew is also like Siberian tracks found more recently. CuChuunaas are described as sometimes using tools and spears, weasring hides and sometimes footwear, and having a primitive language.

    Your error is in categorising these things in broad classifications, saying the broad classifications are typically one thing or the other, and in contrasting them. The problem is that both Trolls and Bigfoot are generic terms which mean more than one thing. Bigfoot includes but is not limited to the Patterson film Sasquatch, and Trolls include but are not limited to the Elves or Faerie-Folk (more properly Moundfolk or Hiddenfolk) nwhich you aree describing.It is because we are working with such inaccurate categories that many arguments are started unnecessarily. "Bigfoot" can include a type of ape very like an orangutan and "Trolls" can also include goblins or Dwarves (in Mythology both the Alvar and Svartalvar). That does not mean we should consider the terms limited to only those definitions, what we need to do is recognise that the categories are useless to base such statements such as these upon such arbitrary and general categories.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    1. Correction, Skogsras with a Naked Body Covered in Hair. Reference in Field Guide to the Little People
      A Curious Journey Into the Hidden Realm of Elves, Faeries, Hobgoblins & Other Not-So-Mythical Creatures by Nancy Arrowsmith and I own a copy. I shall update the entry by including some "Wildman" images

  3. Mind your spelling! It’s skogsrå, not skogsra.

    I too am Swedish, and believe it or not, 1/8th troll myself. And I have to agree with my countryman that all trolls in recent memory have been to some extent civilized, much more so than Bigfoot in any account I have ever read. But this is recent folklore. Who knows what people believed in the 1500s? Not even we do; and sure there have been wildmen depicted.

    1. how do u know u r 1/8 troll, what does that mean,

  4. Oh I believe it, I've printed photos of Troll's skulls before on this blog and remarked that some families have a tradition of interbreeding with trolls. We also have historical records of what people believed in the 1500s, and with comparable beliefs all over europe. You are seklling Bigfoots short: there is more than one sort of Bigfoots and they have different cultural levels. I did specifically mention the example of the Chuchuunaa. And certainly you should understand that an American keyboard does not feature Swedish chharacters for typing!

    1. so do trolls understood in the traditional more dangerous sense , not exist or are just not common, i read kn another blog that there is evidence of them and it is closely guarded


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