Trolls, Ogres and Neanderthal
Trolls and Ogres were Primitive Humans
It is a credible scholarly theory that many of the medieval fairy tales retold for countless generations date back to our primitive ancestors, at the very least the Bronze age. The magical era that lies between the Stone Age and the Iron Age. The Bronze Age was the early stages of Human technological advancement when humans first began to work with metals. The Bronze Age was replaced by the Iron age as human technology advanced and our ancestors learned to forge even sturdier and stronger metals circa 1200 BC.
Human Neanderthal Coexistance
Durring the transitional period from the stone age up till the late bronze age, Homo Sapiens are known to have coexisted with homo neanderthalis aka neanderthal man.
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The current common consensus among science was that Neanderthals went extinct roughly 40,000 years ago after having coexisted with modern man for thousands of years. Recent discoveries of Neanderthal remains indicate that Neanderthal survived in isolated pockets as recently as 22,000 BC, that's only 24 - 25,0000 years ago as opposed to 40,000. Perhaps future discoveries will push that date even further forward. In fact pockets of homo neanderthalis homo sapien hybrid may have existed well into undocumented, but relatively recent history.
Having coexisted with modern human ancestors for so long a period it would seem appropriate that there should be some mention of them in our folk lore and mythology. And there is, but we simply failed to recognize it for what it is.
Hybird pockets of homo neanderthalis / homo sapien may have existed well into undocumented relatively recent history. Non African Modern Humans are known to posess 1.5 - 4 % neanderthal DNA. Many of the characters from ancient tales may have been Neanderthal or Neanderthal Hybrids.
Trolls in Ancient Legend and Lore
Trolls and ogres were said to be descended from the 'yootnar' [jotnar] a race of Giants that dwelt in Jotunheimr [Old Norse = Giant Home]. Their lineage from 'Giants' bears striking similarity to the Biblical tales of Nephilim who were said to be the Giant offspring of the 'sons of God' and the 'daughters of men' prior to the great flood.
A remnant of this mythical land of giants survives on modern Norwegian maps as the Jotunheimen Mountains in southern Norway.
In Scandinavian legends trolls inhabited regions at a distance from human habitation and lived either solitary existences or in small family groups. They could be found under bridges, on isolated hills sides, mountains or caves and were usually nocturnal. There are legends surrounding strange large stones, which are thought to have once been trolls that were turned to stone due to sunlight.
They are sometimes friend and at other times foe to Humans. They are frequently adversaries and antagonists. So antagonistic was the relationship between human and troll in Scandinavia that the Norwegian National Law of 1274 had prohibitions against consorting with trolls. Trolls were the boogey man and posed an inherent danger to the human population.
Trolls existed as hunter gatherers by 'trolling' the country side / hunting. The term 'Troll' has found its way into the modern lexicon as in fisherman who 'troll' and internet hacks who troll the web. In French a troller is a term used in hunting. So basically a 'Troll' is a creature that trolls, a hunter gatherer, a primitive man. Like Esau, the prodigal son of Genesis, Trolls are usually hairy, grotesque and dim witted. They are Human Like but not quite Human.
Beowulf is an Old English epic of Scandanavian origins. It's date of composition is not certain and hotly contended by scholars, the general consensus seems to be however that it was composed by an unknown Anglo-Saxon author prior to 1000 AD.
It is based in Scandanavia and probably based on older legends that are lost to the ravages of time.
"... the dating of the events in the poem has been confirmed by archaeological excavations of the barrows indicated by Snorri Sturluson and by Swedish tradition as the graves of Ohthere (dated to c. 530) and his son Eadgils (dated to c. 575) in Uppland, Sweden. ...
...In Denmark, recent archaeological excavations at Lejre, where Scandinavian tradition located the seat of the Scyldings, i.e., Heorot, have revealed that a hall was built in the mid-6th century, exactly the time period of Beowulf. Three halls, each about 50 metres long, were found during the excavation.' .
The villian in a major portion of the epic is 'Grendel' whom is eventually slain by the hero Beowulf, descriptions of Grendel are quite 'neanderthalish'.
Brutus and the Albion Giants
As per legend Britain was founded by war refugees from Troy. Brutus of Troy was their leader and he named the Island Nation after himself. 'Brit-ain' and his companions 'Brit-o-ns'.
As per Geoffrey of Monmouth [ History of the Kings of Britain], after Troys fall survivors of the sack of the city, fled to Italy and settled there. One of the Aeneas' descendants was Brutus of Troy. After accidentally killing his father while hunting he was banished. He left Italy for Greece, where he found other Trojan descendants survivors held in slavery. He led his countrymen in a successful revolt, and then took them on an epic voyage in search of a new homeland.
They came across an abandoned island named Leogecia with a temple dedicated to Greek Gods, Diana, Jupiter, and Mercury was found. He beseeched the Goddess for guidance. Diana appeared to him in a dream and told him of a rich and fertile island populated by very few giants. She told him he would be the first of a long Royal line that would rule the island and spread throughout the world. When Brutus arrived on the island it was called Albion, and he found it was as Diana had told him. The giants were few in number, and the tallest and most powerful was named Gogmagog [Note similarity to Gog and Magog of the Bible Ezekiel 38:2-3, Ezekiel 38:14-16, Revelation 20:8, Genesis 10:2 and others .. footnote 1].
Brutus and his Trojans found their promised land and after exploring it found it to their liking and desired to make it their own. The Islands current occupants would beg to differ and they were much larger in stature and stronger than the Trojans. However, there were only twenty-four of them and the Giants could not match the Trojan numbers or bronze age weaponry. The giants it appears were still in the stone age. The Trojans went to war against the giants and won claiming Albion as their own.
The sole survivor of the giants was Gogmagog whom Brutus spared. He was spared for the sole purpose of fighting the mightiest of Brutus' captains, Corineus. Corineus defeated him. Albion, as per legend was now free of giants, Brutus divied out the land as he saw fit. In legend, Brutus became the founder and first king of Britain and Corineus became the founder and first ruler of Cornwall.
Jack the Giant Killer
The original story of Jack the Giant Killer [Not the mutated childrens version Jack and the Bean Stalk] as later giant legends and even archeological records exist. The story of Jack the Giant Killer may predate the arrival of Brutus to a time when homo-sapiens and neanderthal or possibly cro-magnon co-existed in Britain. Their coexistance was apparently not always a peacful one.
Jack the Giant Killer was depicted in the tales as a clever lad who easily outwitted the giants the same as Jacob outwitted his neanderthal like brother Esau. A particularly famous story is Jacks defeat of Cormoran on St Michael’s Mount, an island off the coast of Cornwall. By blowing a horn loudly, he lured the giant out, but it fell into a trap, a deep pit that Jack had made. With nothing but the giant’s head showing, Jack taunted the giant before he butchered Cormoranas as he struggled to free himself. With the advent of the Victorian age the stories mutated and coagulated into the current day children's classic Jack and the Beanstalk .
The Buggane is a legend from the Isle of Man, which has a strong Norse heritage as well as Celtic. Buggane were Troll like creatures covered in black hair, with claws, tusks and a large red mouth similar to some depictions of Grendel in Beowulf. They were said to tunnel underground, had comparable human intelligence and interacted with humans on occassion. They were said to reside in forests, under waterfalls and solitary locations in the same manner as Trolls.
Wild Man of Orford
The tale of wild man of Orford took on many of the attributes of a fairy tale and folk lore, in its original format he was simply a large hairy creature, had a human face but was unable to communicate verbally. The wild man of Orford differs in that he was captured by fishermens net. For this reason he is sometimes dubbed a Merman. Unlike Mermen of folk lore he was not simply half human half fish , but was fully human.
The wild men that roamed the mideival wilderness, the forests and secluded regions were called trolls by the Nordic people. In Britain and parts of western Europe they were referred to as woodwose or common derivatives from the same root word. They were primitive hunter gatherers that existed on the fringe of a civilization that was rapidly advancing into an agrarian culture.
Woodwose, wodewose is a Middle English word that is defined as a savage naked man clothed in foliage and sometimes pelts. Many of the woodwose tales predate middle english and hail from deeper in antiquity than the written language, to a time period when homo neanderthalis, cromagnon and homo sapien coexisted. In all likelihood many of the tales of the 'woodwose' were tales of homo sapiens who either chose to, or were born into a secluded wild existance ... unkempt, hairy, for the most part naked. They existed as animals and over time even came to resemble them, they were feral people, a cross between what people of the civilized world recognized as Human and wild animals, they were wild humans, wild men aka woodwose.
The striking possibility that many of these woodwose creatures may have actually been more closely related to other branches of humanity is very strong.
A contemporary tale of the capture of a Woodwose comes from Norway circa 1250 in a work entitled the King's Mirror (Konungs skuggsja ) the following is written
'It once happened in that country that a living creature was caught in the forest as to which no one could say definitely whether it was a man or some other animal, for no one could get a word from it or be sure that it understood human speech... It had the human shape, however, in every detail, both as to hands and face and feet; but the entire body was covered with hair as the beasts are, and down the back it had a long coarse mane like that of a horse, which fell to both sides and trailed along the ground when the creature stooped in walking.'
Esau The Prodigal Son
Judeo Christian lore, the Book of Genesis we have the story of Esau the prodigal son of Isaac and fraternal twin brother of Jacob. Esau was coated in a thick red fur. "Genesis 25:25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment ..." . The Biblical account describes Esau as having the traits of a primitive hunter gatherer, and not as intelligent as his Brother Jacob. Could Esau have been the result of a recessive gene, a throwback to our primal ancestry ?
Neanderthals were found in Northern European regions, although they are known to have migrated to [or from] the Middle East and North Africa, where the story of Esau is based. Norse and Germanic tradition frequently tells of human like creatures known as trolls and Ogres.
A few other tales of Trolls include ...
Det bla bandet - The Blue Belt Norwegian Tale of an encounter with Trolls.
A Smith Rescues a Captured Woman from a Troll Denmark Denmark
The Troll Outwitted Denmark
Physical Attributes Trolls and Ogres
Notably, the old descriptions of Trolls very closely paralells modern archeologies depictions of Neanderthal. Neanderthals were significantly shorter and stockier than modern humans, with much broader rib cages and pelvises.
They had shorter limb proportions, a reduced chin, and a large nose both in length and width, and positioned higher on the face, than in homo sapiens. All of these attributes are also assigned to trolls and ogres in various tales.
Archeological Evidence and Interbreeding
Neanderthal remains have been found throughout much of Eurasia , but not in Scandanavia, the land where the legends are the strongest. It is also very possible that the tradition and legends pre-date the migrations of the Nordic people to Scandanavia. The Nordic people are genetically diverse their ancestors came from the south and the east. East is deeper into Eurasia and Siberia lands where the Neanderthal and Denisovan were known to have roamed, or trolled as the case may be.
The Only Known potential Neanderthal Artifacts found in Scandanavia were found in Finland at a place called Varggrottan [Wolf Cave] in Swedish or Susiluola in Finnish. Based on discoveries made in the cave, many archaeologists believe the cave was inhabited about 75,000 years ago, prior to the arrival of Homo Sapiens in Europe. Thousands of other caves remain unexplored.
Genomics however does lend some clues. Assuming it was possible for Modern Humans and Neanderthal or Trolls to interbreed as science seems to be leaning towards then the genetic traits of Scandanavian people points to a Neanderthal connection. Genes related to pathogen resistance which are strongly asociated with Neanderthal man is at a much higher concentration in nordic people than most other Europeans.
Some researchers have also speculated that Neanderthal could not have survived as far north as Scandanavia as it was too cold but recent research published in the Quaternary International  argues otherwise.
' We do, however, find evidence that a geographic barrier may have impeded northerly migrations during the Eemian. The evidence reviewed here suggests that both research bias and taphonomy .. could account for the archaeological invisibility of Neanderthals in Southern Scandinavia, highlighting the need for further strategic survey and/or excavation efforts in the region.'
2. Titi Tudorancea Bulletin
3. Quaternary International Science Direct - Volume 431, Part B, 28 February 2017, Pages 88-103