Episodes 30: The Trows’ Christmas

“Trows are excessively fond of dancing….”

A short episode about the loveable little Trows of Orkney and their delightfully happy Christmas adventures. Where nothing bad happens at all.

Content warning: bad things happening.

Story in summary (Warning – contains spoilers!)

The story in brief, without the detail or discussion – not a transcript.

If you’ve already listened and just want a refresh, only want the bare bones of the story, or really don’t care about spoilers then please do click below to read on…

The Trows’ Christmas
This is an image of trolls not trow, but trow images are few and far between and I think this conveys an appropriately winter feel. By Swedish illustrator John Bauer


So I really only touched on the very basics of Trows here – the amount of folklore concerning them is quite vast, varied and somewhat contradictory. They fulfil a very similair role to fhe fairies in other folklores – so there are huge numbers of different things ascribed to them, no common agreement on exactly what they are and some pretty outlandish reports that seem to just come from one particularly inventive person’s imagination running away with them.

It’s not impossible I’ll end up discussing them again, but here are some of my selected trow highlights:

  • They ride bulrushes through the air – presumably like broomsticks
  • The Trows write the best tunes and one sure-fire route to being a successful composer of banging tunes was to overhear a Trow tune, copy it and then bring it to the human world as your own
  • The trows live around Brochs – Iron age stone buildings unique to the North of Scotland and the Islands
  • There’s a story about the Trows that describes a girl visiting them in the “saucy merriment of youth”. That’s the fact. I just love that phrase.
  • According to some sources Trows always walk backwards. This is not widely believed. Possibly because it’s pretty stupid.
  • Trows and Giants had serious beef which sometimes broke out into all out scrapes
  • The Trows have now left Mainland (the largest island in Orkney) now but some say they still live on at the Dwarfie Stone on Hoy.
Trows are still said to inhabit the Dwarfie Stone and environs

But if you really want to know as much as possible you can’t do better than this essay at The faery folklorist, which is a site I generally recommend: The Trows of Orkney and Shetland

The Ring of Brodgar

This does not feature in the story but it’s in Orkney, one of the biggest stone circle’s in Britain or Ireland and generally a magical place. So I’m mentioning it here.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from Tales of Britain and Ireland!

Always remember to raise you hat to the Yule log. It’s just respectful

Selected Sources

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Welcome to Tales of Britain & Ireland: A podcast telling folktales, myths and legends from across Britain and Ireland. Hosted by Graeme Cooke.

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