Norway is known for its breathtaking fjords, savage Vikings and Norse mythology. While millions have witnessed the grandeur of Norway’s inlets, and we only need to visit York to learn about the very real history of the Viking hordes, Norse mythology has, for the last few hundred years, been considered little more than just the elaborate fiction of a dead religion. In recent years, however, evidence has been slowly accumulating to suggest that parts of the Norse narrative could very well have taken place.
The jotnar were giant creatures of immense strength and power. Ymir was the first, and his offspring populated the ‘mythical’ land known as Niflheim – described as a land of mist and ice, easily attributed to any of Norway’s expansive glaciers. These earthly beings fought the Norse gods, with huge massacres taking place. The mythology goes on to say that during a time of peace the jotnar and the gods married and interbred, before falling out again. The early creatures could not take exposure to sunlight, and would turn to stone at the slightest ray, but with the blood of the gods their tolerance grew, and could soon only be vanquished by a bolt of lightning – something the gods held dominion over. Legend has it that the jotnar, or trolls as they have come to be known, became extinct as the gods became more frequent and accurate with their lightning, but evidence has come to light that some think proves that trolls still occupy the deepest forests and widest tundra of Norway.
Norway has a secret, and has gone to extreme lengths to conceal it. Norway gained its independence from Sweden on 1905, and lost it again to the Germans in WWII barely 35 years later. When the Nazi occupation ended and the threat of Soviet communism reared its ugly head, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation rallied the free world to unite against the reds. Norway shares a border with what was then the USSR and now Russia, so one would think that it would welcome NATO and a show of force great enough to keep the iron curtain from rising. The contrary was true. During the Cold War Norway did accept NATO as a guardian, but laid down very strict rules. The rules we are most interested in here are 1: No foreign troops on Norwegian soil during peace time, 2: No allied manoeuvres in the county of Finnmark, and 3: No allied air or navy manoeuvres east of 24 degrees east.
Let’s break these rules down and discover why troll conspiracy theorists believe they were put in place: 1: Foreign troops in Norway would have access to the vast open uninhabited swathes of land, high mountains and dense forests that traditionally separate the trolls’ land of ‘Midgard’ from the human world. While it is relatively easy to keep curious individuals away with stories of animal attacks and hostile terrain, a military force would have no problem venturing into troll territory, and subsequently encountering Norway’s dark secret. The second and third rules in place restrict all manoeuvres in Finnmark specifically, but also all of Norway east of the line of latitude at 24 degrees east, which takes in all of Finnmark, some coastal regions and the border with the (then) USSR. You may ask what is so special about Finnmark? The map below was obtained from a Norwegian government source who wishes to remain anonymous. The source has marked an area on the map as home to a particularly giant species of troll. Is this why Norwegian Cold War foreign policy was so adamant that the area be left untouched?
During the Cold War, the USSR performed nuclear tests in the area near Murmansk close to the border with Norway. The country was quick to condemn the tests, as any would be, but a government minister who was present in those tense times claims that more than one whisper circulated around the top echelons of the government suggesting that the biggest risk of the nuclear neighbour would be the tests angering the ancient landlords of Finnmark. It is also no coincidence that many landslides and avalanches were recorded following the explosions. They were publicly attributed to vibrations from the bombs, but conspiracy theorists argue that the new rocks were the remains of trolls, turned to stone by the nuclear flashes from across the border.
The USSR was notorious for its sealed borders, and the frontier with Norway was evidence of this. One characteristic that set it apart, however, was a wide stretch of level sand between the two countries (the brown strip by the road in the image below). Military experts will tell you that these were to detect crossings by defectors out of the Soviet Union – but troll experts think they know differently: Humans crossing could easily brush away their tracks – these were for tracking trolls coming into the USSR.
Since the end of the Cold War activity in the Finnmark area has lessened, and subsequently, says our anonymous troll expert, the trolls that have lain dormant underground and on top of mountains are moving around with more frequency. What evidence suggests this you ask? We are told when we can’t see the troll, to look at what surrounds it. And now, more than any time in the last 20 years, the Norwegian and Russian militaries surround Finnmark. A recent article in the Barents Observer reports that Norway is modernising and strengthening its border forces in the region, and Russia has recently displayed an increased presence along its side of the border, evidence by the recent satellite imagery below, that clearly shows tactical nuclear submarines moored at Zapadnaya Litsa, and the next that shows MIG bunkers near by. These mobile nuclear missile platforms are in position to guard against trolls crossing the border into Russia.
Norway’s own military has stepped up its presence in troll inhabited regions, moving its entire command centre to a large Cold War complex, deep underground in Bodo, inside the artic circle and midway between the two largest troll lands. The BBC reported on the move and even featured a video of the inside of the base. Such access, our conspiracy theorist suggest, is merely a smokescreen to deflect attention from the real use of the underground base: launching missions into the surrounding caves to eradicate the local troll population.
Another telling sign is the privatisation of a number of former Norwegian military installations. Many of these are radar stations like the one pictured below, just north of Jevnaker. Official sources tell us that the dishes use the Have Stare technology utilised by the US missile defence shield, but local employees reportedly wonder why the installations are more frequently set up to sweep across domestic terrain. Could they be looking for trolls? And who is the new private manager of these sites?
Someone who thought he knew was Erik Knatterud, who tragically died last year in a car accident. Erik was a self-proclaimed troll expert, and spent his time collecting stories and eye-witness accounts. Erik kept quiet about any kind of conspiracy, but believed in the trolls, and would provide a sympathetic ear to shocked witnesses. One of the many stories he collected concerned a brand new BMW, smashed to pieces in the icy wilderness of northern Norway. The car was destroyed, but there was no sign of a crash, no roadkill, nor any skid marks to indicate any loss of control. The driver, unscathed but in shock, was discovered nearby exclaiming: ‘He had to stomp on it, he just had to stomp on it’.
Other incidents that conspiracy theorists believe were troll related include the 1982 crash landing of a small commuter plane. Witnesses at the time said that they saw British fighter jets in the area shortly after the aircraft suffered damage to its tail and plummeted into the sea. Whether the jets were British or not, the theory that the passengers on the plane had seen something they shouldn’t have and needed to be silenced is as popular as the idea that a giant troll swatted them from the air.
When you factor in the human cost of keeping the trolls under wraps it makes for a grim picture. Our source points to an increase in ‘polar bear’ attacks on humans, and the subsequent tragic killing of innocent polar bears, just to cover up the activities of wayward trolls. How many of the attacks are real, troll or otherwise, and how many are misinformation aimed at keeping the public away is unclear, but we know that extreme attempts have been made in the past to keep the public in the dark. One such attempt, published in Weekly World News in 2000, even suggested that troll sightings were actually emperor penguins, introduced to Norway in 1936 by a naturalist.
You, like us, may at this stage still be sceptical – but our troll expert has told us where we can see trolls for ourselves – at least the remains of trolls. When subjected to intense light the trolls turn to stone and either shatter in an explosion of pebbles or remain rock for the rest of time. Look at any valley or coast in Norway, our source says, and you can see the remains of the trolls in rock formations and landslides and shingle beaches. Just pray you don’t meet one in the flesh.
Discover the fact behind the myth with The Troll Hunter – Coming to UK cinemas 9th September.