National Geographic : 1971 Jul
no trick at all to conjure up a draug-agro tesque and terrible creature that sails forever in half a boat, and portends death to any hapless fisherman who sees it. Nature in Nor way is not always benign, and it is easy to fathom how peasantfolk of generations past could glimpse fearful man-killing trolls looming among moss-clad boulders or in the misty shadows of the forest. I learned about trolls from an unlikely source: a sandy-haired Norwegian army offi cer with the soul of a poet and the surname of a Scot. Maj. Henry Crawford-Currie was driving me to Bardufoss, Norway's defense headquarters above the Arctic Circle, for a brief visit to Brigaden i Nord-Norge-the Northern Brigade. "Ah, yes-you asked about trolls," he said, and a smile softened his aquiline profile. "Trolls are usually very large, like your giants, and very ugly, except to other trolls. They like to capture princesses and carry them off to their castles inside the mountains." Trolls grow so old and slow, it is said, that when one calls to another it may take a cen tury to get a reply. Some are as tall as a church tower and brutishly strong-but fortunately rather stupid. Major Crawford-Currie told me the tale of a farm boy, Askeladden, whose life was at stake in a porridge-eating contest with a huge troll. "Askeladden cleverly concealed a ruck sack beneath his shirt, and poured the porridge into it while pretending to eat. When the rucksack was full, he slit his 'stomach' open with his knife so that he could eat still more. The slow-witted troll did the same thing and perished, of course." Built to hold the wealth of the Hanseatic League, stark warehouses near Bergen's quay echo the creak of a drayman's cart. Largely destroyed in a 1702 fire, the build ings rose again on their original lines. Today sheltering small shops, they constitute one of the kingdom's architectural treasures. Norway's largest city in the Middle Ages, Bergen fell prey to the Hanseatic League about 1350, when German merchants ousted townfolk from the quay and set up a trade colony. Methodically they monopolized the city's commerce, cramming the warehouses with cod, furs, wood, and metals for export to other Hanseatic cities. In the mid-1500's competition broke the monopoly-where upon the Bergensers amiably absorbed the Germans. KODACHROME © N.G.S .