The troll is a very important part of modern Scandinavian folklore which harks back (or maybe even claims direct lineage) from the Jötnar of the high mythology. The terms Troll, Jötunn and Þurs are all mentioned throughout Old Norse Mythology to describe a variety of beings and there is confusion and overlapping in the use of those terms. It has been suggested that they are separate types of related creatures:
Jötunn are the lords of nature
Trolls are nature beings
Þurs are hostile monsters
Said to inhabit remote areas, like mountains, under rural bridges and caves deep in the forest. There are many different ‘races’ of troll depending on where they live and they display great diversity in their size and appearance. They are said to be very old, very powerful yet plodding and unintelligent enabling them to be defeated.
Scandinavians believe Trolls are frightened away by lightning (a holdover from the mythology of Thor killing Jötunn), church bells and iron (particularly an iron trollkurs or ‘troll cross’). It is said they also turn to stone if they are hit by direct sunlight. But if you cannot beat them you would best beware as they are known to kidnap and eat humans as well as destroy a persons property and home.
Today it is said that the lack of Trolls is down to the result of lightning strikes and there are many stone landmarks in Nordic lands that are said to be the result of Trolls that were caught in sunlight!