Please Also Visit our Sister Blog, Frontiers of Anthropology:

And the new group for trying out fictional projects (Includes Cryptofiction Projects):
This Blog
Linked From Here
The Web
This Blog
Linked From Here
The Web

Friday, 10 February 2012

Troll Skulls

This is a case where we have "Persistently Primitive" skulls on record since the 1800s and compared to Neanderthal skulls back before there was such a thing as human paleontology , and mentioned by le likes of Thomas Huxley in his writings. The skulls in question include the ones on the left and are skulls similar to each other from Denmark and England from the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, the Megalithic period

A comparison of the traits of a Neanderthal skull compared to an "Early Modern". The "Early Modern" in this case is similar to one of the skulls from Skhul, and both are possibly halfbreed Neanderthals also. In this case the skull at the top (Which is not identified by name in the source) is from the bronze age about 1000 BC and shows distinctly [East-Asian!]Neanderthaloid traits. The Borreby skull below is more like the Neanderthal- halfbreeds such as the Skhul types from Israel(Palestine). It DOES have an even lower, flatter forehead than the Skhul types, too.
The more widely known of these is one of the skulls from Borreby, Denmark, shown here and in an alternate interpretation by Charles Lyell below. The very low brow and very heavy jaw look Neanderthaloid but the rest of the skull is a novel combination of traits. Carleton Coon calls this skull and others like it CroMagnon/Neanderthal crosses and identifies the type as persisting in parts of Northern Europe including Sweden and Ireland. (Races of Europe)
The shape was also reminiscent enough of the Gardar Skull in Greenland that I thiougt I should review it here to clear away any hint of confusion. And of the series of skulls at the Left, the one at the top is most Neanderthaloid, so it is possibly a "Wudewasa" skull, the Borreby skull being possibly a halfbreed variant of the same "Troll" type.

Man of Gardar

Photo: Egil Skallagrimson[A "Half Troll" Berserker]

What manner of man was the Man of Gardar?
Was he a surviving neanderthaloid type, thousands of years out of his time in the middle ages? Was he a freak Eskimo, living with the dwindling colony of Norsemen on the unfriendly coast of Greenland in the twelfth or thirteenth century?
Or was he a degeneration type arising from the inbreeding of a malnourished group of white men cut off from the rest of the world?

These questions have been roused by the recent discovery in the medieval Christian cemetery at Gardar, southwest Greenland, of a most extraordinary skull, that has many of the characteristics of the low-browed, heavy-jawed Neanderthal race that inhabited mainland Europe scores of millennia ago.

The find was made by Prof. F.C.C. Hansen of the University of Copenhagen, and is discussed in the scientific journal Nature by Sir Arthur Keith, noted anthropologist.
Sir Arthur is inclined to look upon the strange skull as a result of a disorder of growth, somewhat like the fairly common and distressing type of giantism known as acromegaly. This disease is due to a glandular failure, and frequently results, says Sir Arthur, in the assumption, "in a bizarre form, of all the characteristics of the skulls of ancient fossil man" particularly Neanderthal and Rhodesian characters. [Emphasis added-DD]

"Homo gardarensis must have been the subject of a particular disorder of growth, the kind of disorder which causes giantism in man, but whereas in most giants growth soon becomes irregular, in Homo gardarensis it remained regular." ..July 19, 1930 Biofortean Review

Perkins M. (1931) Acromegaly in the far north. Nature 128 (No 3229) p. 491-2.

Acromegaly in the Far North

Heidelberg Jaw
Discovered by gravel pit workers in 1907 near Heidelberg in Germany the Jaw of Heidelberg Man as shown is approximately 40% to 50% larger by volume than the that of "Modern" man. The Gandar Jaw being discussed on this page is even larger than the Heidelberg Jaw.

In his letter in NATURE of Aug. 8 on the pituitaristic character of Egil Skallagrimson, Prof. Seligman has brought forward a remarkable subject which made a forcible impression on myself some years ago.

His opinion of the Gardariki skull confirms the existence of pituitary disorder among the Viking Scandinavians, but he does not allude to the very peculiar features which distinguish Egil's case from common clinical conditions, nor to the interesting heredity which the sagas record.


Egil closely resembled his father, Skallagrim, and paternal grandfather, Kveld Ulf, in "growth, appearance, and bent of mind " (Egla S. xx., xxxi.); while the name of the latter suggests that he recalled his maternal grandfather, Ulf the Fearless, who was ancestor through a son, Hallbjorn, 'Half-Troll' (half-giant), to the equally remarkable family of Ketil Haeng, culminating in Grettir the Strong, whose bones, like Egil's, were dug up in a churchyard and admired for their astonishing size (Gretla S. lxxxiv.).[Emphasis added]

Gigantism seems to have become endemic in the Fyrdafjord district of Sogn (Norway), where Skallagrim was able to find a dozen near his home who were "more like giants in growth and seeming than mortal men . . . all the strongest men and many shape-strong ", men who, like their chief and his father, used to run, 'berserk' in fits of uncontrollable rage followed by exhaustion (Egla S. xxv., xxvii.).

After the emigration to Iceland three of these giant families, can be recognised by the same features reappearing in their descendants: that descended from Skallagrim, that of Giant-stead, and the descendants of Ani, among whom we may note a grandson, Steinar, who was "of all men the biggest and mighty of strength, an ugly man, crooked of growth, long-legged and short of body . . . quarrelsome and headstrong" (Egla S. lxxx.).

Here again, are signs resembling pituitary disorder, coupled with a morose, uncertain temper. Thorir, 'Long-chin', one of the most famous berserks, and Ofeig, 'Clumsy Foot', are other cases where characteristic pituitary features appear in a berserk family.

 Egil and his father were noted for premature greying of their black hair with baldness at twenty-five. The father and grandfather of Grettir, in the line of Ofeig, 'Clumsy Foot', were also prematurely grey.

The precocity, both mental and physical of Egil and his brother may be associated with this premature senility, and possibly indicate a correlated excess Of' either adrenal or pineal function.

Skallagrim had several children who died young, but there is no suggestion that they suffered from a total premature senility, and in such case the father and Egil the surviving son would scarcely live to the ages of 88 and 81 respectively, or perform astonishing feats of strength on the day of death.

Grettir, far from being precocious was distinctly backward, and seems unexpectedly feeble in the development of genitalia (Gretla S. xiv., lxxv.): possibly in his case pituitary disorder passed into a stage of hypofunction, but he was in full vigour when killed at 35.

Although mentally very alert and a clever poet like Egil and Skallagrim, Grettir like his father, was noted for laziness, which also suggests hypofunction. On the other hand, the Egil family were unusually brisk; but Thorbjorg the Fat, a granddaughter of Egil, may have developed pituitary hypofunction.

Egil had also, and Grettir was credited with a son who died at 17, after promising to develop into something altogether extraordinary (Gretla S lxvii.)

The tendency to berserk (hamask), so obviously resembling the running amok of Malays, was closely interwoven with "shape-changing" or being "shape strong" (hamrammr, vide T. R. Eddison, 1930, "Egil's Saga", notes, p. 245 ff.; and Du Chaillu, 1889; "Viking Age", ii. p. 425), The latter may broadly be regarded as peculiar behaviour in the dusk, such as sleepiness and surliness (Kveld ,Ulf), berserk fits (Skallagrim), mad drinking fits (Egil), dusk prowling, supposedly in animal shape (Storolf Haengson), terror of the dark (Grettir).

We may imagine that evening terrors would provoke an adrenal release which might become translated, in those with constitutional adrenal excess, into a fit of berserk rage. Berserk fits, being involuntary, may also be compared with the 'uncinate' epileptiform seizures of pituitary hypertrophy, and, there seems to be a strong hysterical element, because the subject was believed to be impossible to wound, which may mean that he was insensible to pain and did not bleed from non-arterial traumata.

As regards heredity, I have traced 52 male and 19 female descendants of Ulf the Fearless in 12 generations. Seventeen of the males are recorded as peculiar in one or more of the above ways, 6 others probably were so, but details are not available in the sagas at my hand, and of these 4 males evidently transmitted the heritage; 4 males transmitted without being noticed as unusual themselves.

Females naturally have attracted less attention, but 3 of the 19 seem to have been unusual and 8 transmitted. Skallagrim and Grettir were each the offspring of berserk families on both sides among 14 members of the associated families, 7 seem to have been peculiar; while the two other berserk families from Fyrdafjord referred to above include 7 peculiar among 9 individuals.


In brief, half, of both sexes, may be believed to have had a peculiar hereditary constitution; and the condition seems not to be sex-linked.

These details are drawn from the well-known sagas of Egil, Grettir, Laxdale, Burnt Njal, and the Norse Kings: lack of space makes publication of the genealogical table inadvisable, while it may yet be improved by reference, to the sagas of Ketil Haeng, and others not yet translated.

It is certain that descendants of Ulf the Fearless settled in Greenland, because, soon after its discovery, fourteen ships reached that land from Borgafjord of Skallagrim's settling and Breidafjord the home of Grettir's mother, through whom he derived from Ulf: it is therefore quite possible that the Gardariki skulls include some of Ulf's descendants.

The description of the unusually tall Grettir as "a handsome man. . . . with a face rather broad and short, red-haired and somewhat freckled." (Gretla S. xiv.), places him at once as that well-known German-resembling Caledonian type which attracted the attention of Tacitus; it also suggests the much more ancient Cro-Magnon with dysharmonic face a conspicuously giant type.

On the other hand, the Egil family, with its, black hair, great height, thick skull, prognathism, precocity, and fits of rage, is curiously parallel to the tall negroid in everything except indolence, which was certainly displayed on the Grettir side, and pigmentation of the skin.[The physical traits are Australoid and not African and the reference is mistaken-DD]

Hamrammr may even be compared with the 'Leopard Society' prowling of West Africa. This parallel is interesting, because rock-tracings at Tanum in South Sweden introduce us to sea raiders and settlers who were familiar with the leopard, the camel, the ostrich, and the turtle, as pointed out by Du Chaillu ("Viking Age" ii. p.124).
Some are represented of immense size, many are prognathous with a suggestion, of the acromegalic chin some have unusually long legs and short bodies like Steinar, several are remarkably fat; often pictured fighting with vigour, they might well represent ancestors of Egil.

Also the Fomorians, supernatural giants, who exactly parallel the Scandinavian Trolls in Irish tradition and played the part of vikings in their earliest history, were explained as "sea-raiders from Africa" by the medieval scholarship in Keating's well-known "History of Ireland". [Emph Added]

As a hypothesis, the tall and fair Scandinavian, or even taller red Caledonian, raiding up and down the Atlantic coasts in very early days, might conceivably contact with the tall negroids of Jaloff, and thus acquire with captured women the seeds of a black-haired stock unbalanced in many ways and marked by excessive height, such, as that producing Egil Skallagrimson.
MICHAEL PERKINS, Little Cloisters, Westminster Abbey, S.W.I.

A Different Opinion on Acromegaly Related to Gardar Skull

As one sees on these two radiographs of acromegalic patients, the deformations relate to the facial part of the head, and nothing justifies that this disease can cause the shape of the occipital part of the skull of Gardar.

Quite to the contrary, the assumption which seems to impose itself here, and that most reject because of the recent character of these remains, and their
localization, is that it appears to be those of Homo erectus bones."

Illustration of an Acromegalic by Keith and compared to the newspaper announcement of the Gardar skul below it. The Gardar skull bears little resemblance to the Acromegalic andless so in the lower jaw than in the rest of the skull. On the other hand it does have some striking resemblances to the skull at the top of this page that opens this article. The Gardar skull is a much "Lower" type than any modern acromegalics and is much more similar to the skulls of fossilmen, except that it is also much larger and is the head of a giant posibly between 6'6" and 7' tall.

The Gardar skull and the one at the top also bear a resemblance to the skull of the half-Almas Khwit, son of Zana the captive Almas woman in Anatolia. It seems that later on there was a fast shuffle under the table and other skulls were changed and represented as the skulls of Zana and Khwit, but the skull in the photograph bears no resemblance to the substituted skull.
Zana with Human Child.

Romantic View of Berserker (Note Bear Head Headdress)
As for the part about the halfbreed Trolls turning into families of berserkers, there were both wereolves and werebears invoked tto explain their ferocious behaviour.  Werewolves have been with humanity pretty much from our humble beginnings right up to the modern day, where they are common enough to become tame and at times even humorous. However, back in the day, people were really, really scared of werewolves.
Viking berserkers were a little different: they wanted to BE werewolves. The name actually comes from Old Norse for “bear shirt”, which means they wore bear pelts into battle. But bears would be ashamed of how these bear shirts acted. Even rabid bears. Berserkers are among the few types of people who don’t have a good reputation in Viking mythology. 1015 Berserkers had been banned. Berserkers get a bad rep among Vikings because they got Vikings a bad rep among everyone else. The Vikings, for all their raiding and pillaging reputation, were actually a fairly law-abiding and orderly people. When some of your population is running around pretending to be bears, and worse, chewing on magic mushrooms that made them immune to pain, fear, or common sense, there is a chance people will talk. So, this really helped push along the legend of the werewolf. After all, it wasn’t just a legend; people really DID see a big hairy guy shrug off terrible wounds and rip people to shreds with their bare hands. It just got a little garbled. .


  1. Comment posted by Charles Stratton. Unfortunately there was also a bug associated with his comment, so I deleted his version and I have to post it manually:

    "Wow, superb weblog format! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you make running a blog glance easy. The total glance of your web site is great, as {smartly as} the content!"

    I would feel better about such flattering comments if they were not all coming through at the same time and all of them with bugs on them. I shall have to speak to Blogger about that.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.
  2. Charles Stratton was the given name of General Tom Thumb, one of America's most famous 19th century actors. Someone is giving you the business, sir. Nevertheless, this article is wonderful - thanks for sharing it. Best of luck in your cryptozoographic endeavors.
  3. Excuse me, the post was to my email in the name of "Charles L. Stratton" with an address attached. Charles Stratton is also legitimately the name I went to school with. In my time I have known two different Lois Lanes, and I have had business contacts with women coincidentally named Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor. Nonetheless, I take your point, the flattering comment did come amidst a flurry of similar flattering comments, all of them suspiciously registering as "Suspicious" on the meter. So it is possible that somebody was attaching viruses to them in a campaign of attempted sabotage, and I dealt with the problem by deleting the messages but printing the comments as I recieved the notices to moderate in my email, just in case they were legitimate. I don't in particular like generic comments that sound as if they are trying to butter me up: I don't in particular much care for being buttered up, period. Thank you for your remark, I don't think we'll be hearing from whoever-it-was again.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.
    1. That was meant to read "Of somebody I went to school with", sorry