Trows are fascinating creatures found only in the folklore of the Orkney and Shetland islands. Yet, describing them accurately is difficult because sources are not always clear.
Folklorists have long insisted that the word “trow” is a corruption of “troll,” and that Orkney’s Trows descend from their Viking ancestors’ stories of Trolls. Sigurd Towrie, author of the comprehensive website covering all things Orkney (Orkneyjar.com), disagrees with this assessment. He believes there may be a connection with a different creature from Norse mythology, the Draugr. This connection stems from both creatures’ affiliation with burial mounds. The Draugr were undead tomb guardians who harassed any trespassers, whether human or animal, who dared to come too close to his mound. In Orkney folklore, Trows also had an association with mounds. Further, “trow” is pronounced to rhyme with “cow.” Towrie believes “trow” evolved from a now extinct Orcadian word “drow” (also rhymes with cow) which relates to Draugr.