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Culture 2000

European Union


Trolls, mounds and tunnels

by Lennart Carlie


How do we make ancient monuments comprehendible to people/the public? Often it is possible to explain what a specific monument represents, but what actually took place during the time the monument was built or erected, is more difficult. The past is in some ways too diffuse. Maybe this is one reason why some monuments are connected to legends: to make things more clear, generations of locals have spun a more understandable story around the specific monument.

In southern Halland there are several ancient monuments whose legends are as interesting as the monuments themselves. One of these legend concerns a very strange event, connected with the Halland-ridge. Since the beginning of the 1990s the Swedish railroad-company is building a tunnel through the ridge. The work has not proceeded smoothly and today there is still a long way to go. But a legend, documented in 1939, tells us about an other tunnel which already exists:

A tunnel through the Halland-ridge

Outside the small village Veinge you can see the ruin of a small chapel with a history that goes several hundred years back. The chapel consisted of a 12 x 8 metre building, which was encircled by wall. About 100 metres away from the chapel there is a magnificent burial-mound, dated to the middle Bronze Age (about 1000 BC). During the last two centuries the mound has been the focus of many treasure hunters. In the middle of the mound there are some deep holes where farmers and farmer hands have tried to locate the interior grave in order to collect all the gold, which is thought to be in the mound. (No treasure was ever found).

Way back, the mound had a nice, vaulted shape and was visible from a long distance. Whether size and visibility had any signification we do not know, but this particular mound served as home for a troll family. The legend of this particular troll family starts here in Veinge but ends further south in the county of Halland.

According to the story, a conflict raged between the troll family in the mound on one hand and the chapel and priest on the other. The origin for the conflict was connected to the bell by which the priests summoned the local villagers to service. The sound of the bell disturbed the trolls and they shunned no efforts to silence it. Over the short distance between the mound and the chapel, the troll father succeeded easily in his purpose. After several acts of sabotage the trolls managed to disturb the services to such an extent, that the priest and locals decided to build a new church closer to the village.

Over a couple of years the local people pulled down the chapel and built up a completely new church some kilometres away. The bell once again served to gather the villagers for service, this time without any disturbance by the troll family. The distance was much too far and the landscape far too open, making it impossible for the trolls to sneak up to the church and interfere.

From now on everything was peaceful for the people in Veinge but not for the troll family. They could still hear the sound of the bells, but the distance between the new church and the mound prevented all countermeasures and sabotage from the trolls. The disturbance and stress finally became too much for the trolls and at a family meeting they decided to move somewhere else, outside the reach of bells' sound. The choice fell on the parish of Östra Karup, just below the Halland-ridge. From a reliable source they were told that an unoccupied mound actually existed in the parish. A short time later, they moved and settled down in the new mound.

At last, they were no longer disturbed by the everlasting sound from the church bells. But it did not take a very long time before a slight melancholy was noticeable in some of the family members. At first they could not find any reason for this particular change of mood, but slowly it became obvious that the main source was lack of communication and interaction with other trolls. When they moved they had also cut all ties and contacts with relatives and friends and in the new neighbourhood they were all alone. The closest relatives were found on the other side of the Halland-ridge, but to visit them, they were forced to walk more than ten kilometres in the open. The trolls did not like the idea of being so exposed a bit, so they gathered once again to find a more convenient solution. After some discussions the final conclusion was to dig a tunnel through the ridge. By such an underground passage, it would be possible to visit their relatives on the other side without being exposed by daylight.

According to the legend the project ended successfully and the troll family lived happily ever after.


1. Did the interior of the tunnel look like this, or

2. like this, or...

3. like this? The answer is - that we do not know.

design: Kai M. Wurm
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