A type of fairy or dwarf, but the term is applicable to any kind of supernatural being. Trows live in the interior of green hills or caverns and are most powerful at night. They are curious artificers or iron and precious metals. Although sometimes propituous to mortals, they are more frequently capricious and malevolent, and often carry off children. Steel instrument and silver coins were generally believed to possess wonderful virtue in counteracting the malevolence of trows. The chief haunt of trows was said to have Pettadale in Nesting.

There are generally two classes, the hill-trows and sea-trows. It was believed by those living on the coast that sea-trows do much injury to fishermen, particularly by destroying fishing-grounds.

It is also name given to the Devil.1 Hence this imprecation is used, Trow tak you!



  1. Jamieson, J. (1880). An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language. Vol. 4. Paisley: Alexander Gardner.


  • Spence, J. (1899). Shetland Folk-lore. Lerwick: Johnson & Greig, p. 43.
  • Teit, James A. (1918). "Water-beings in Shetlandic Folk-Lore, as remembered by Shetlanders in British Columbia." JAF 31:180-201, p. 196.
  • Wright, J. (1905). The English dialect dictionary. Vol. 6. London: H. Frowde.