The Trows of Orkney, Orkneys
Orkney has a sometimes eerie landscape, that feeling of unease assisted by the many burial mounds to be found there. Knowing a little about the creatures said to live within the mounds won’t help those wandering nearby in the twilight either.
The Norsemen took control of the islands from the 8th century onwards, and brought with them their legends of trolls, one of the explanations of the Orcadian trow (alternatively drow): horribly ugly little things, smaller than men and far smaller indeed than trolls – which makes some think there is another explanation for the legend: perhaps hidden Picts surviving long after their fellows were killed or escaped the wrath of the invaders; or maybe things of myth from long before the ancient Norwegians arrived.
Trows are said to reside in opulent homes beneath the mounds, their walls decorated with precious metals. They venture out only at night, and even then they can only be seen by those with a gift, or people touching such seers. Hating locked doors, and loving fires, they invade houses after the occupants have retired for the night, and fearing nothing they make a nasty racket unworried by the idea of capture. Their great love, however, is not a warm fireside nor gold, but music, especially fiddle music – leading them to fool, capture and enslave the best musicians if they possibly can, keeping them beneath ground to play for their repulsive new masters
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