A Troll’s Tale: The Mythical Beasts of Norway

You may or may not have seen the 2010 cult classic Trollhunter, a Norwegian “mockumentary” directed by André Øvredal, which purports to tell the story of a group of students whose investigations into a mysterious trapper, reveal that he is actually employed by the Nowegian government to hunt down rogue trolls!

The film taps into a vast reservoir of Norse mythology concerning trolls. According to Scandinavian folklore, a troll, or jötunn, is a supernatural being of immense strength – although usually somewhat dimwitted, dwelling in isolated places such as caves, mountains and deep in the forest.

Depending on their region, trolls can be solitary or live in family units; they can be utterly monstrous in appearance or almost human-like – but the legends say that they are seldom friendly or helpful to humans and have an especial hatred of Christians! It is also said that exposure to sunlight turns a troll to stone, and particularly bizarre landmarks in Norway are often said to be formed from a troll that met such a fate.

Tourists visiting Norway are regaled with troll memorabilia at airports, gift shops and museums – it is very clear that these creatures have a very special place in the hearts and minds of Norwegians.

There are many ways to be a part of this during holidays in Norway, and perhaps the most accessible is at the Norwegian Troll Park in Lillehammer, part of the Hunderfossen Family Park.

With a 46-foot troll guarding the entrance to the theme park, and many more of the beasts to be found in and around the park’s 120-foot fairy castle. There are also rides, exhibitions and all the attractions of a major theme park – all with a distinctly Scandinavian twist.

For a more natural taste of troll lore, take the rugged road of Trollstigen, or “Troll’s Ladder.” It has only been resurfaced for motor vehicles in the past few decades, and here you will see why tales persist of huge monsters lurking in the wilderness, as the road climbs from the deep Isterdalen valley south of Åndalsnes town to the Stigrøra plateau, with many hairpin bends and the path crossing the roaring Stigfossen waterfall, which is some 650-feet high. Be aware that the road is closed between November and May, as the weather conditions are too treacherous – and maybe the trolls are abroad!

If you dare, you can leave the road and go hiking in the mountainous area around Trollstigen, known as the Romsdal Alps, in particular the three mountains known as the Bishop, King and Queen and on the eastern edge of the valley the Trolltindene group of summits – one of the best regions for rock face climbing and mountaineering in Northern Europe, although this is strictly for experienced mountaineers only.

Norway is packed with experiences such as this, including tours of the glaciers and remote areas where trolls are still said to lurk. You will be surprised at how many Norwegians seem to truly believe that the trolls are out there – and maybe you will return a true believer yourself?!


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