Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King


Story by Linda Kissam “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva,” photos courtesy of the National Nordic Museum


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Linda Kissam “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva,” talks about the “Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King” public art project in the Pacific Northwest. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.

Who would of ‘thunk’ it? Six giant trolls exist in the beautiful Northwest!

Trolls have long been a part of Viking folklore and mythology. In ancient Viking culture, trolls were often seen as cagey creatures that roamed the earth in search of adventure. These creatures symbolize danger and power, which is why they are often used to teach lessons about courage, strength, and the environment.  They also possess a deep knowledge of herbs and healing remedies that can help restore health and luck to those they encounter. Trolls also appear in Norse folklore as protectors of the land, guarding sacred places against harm and offering aid to those who come seeking it.

A new addition to the Northwest’s art scene comes via artist Thomas Dambo’s “Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King” and is a public art project that debuted summer of 2023. Funded by the Scan Design Foundation, the exhibition features six giant hand-built troll sculptures by Danish environmental artist, Thomas Dambo. The trolls are located on publicly accessible sites around the Pacific Northwest, carrying with them an environmental message to share with their visitors.

The large-scale sculptures are meant to encourage visitors to get out into nature. For nearly a decade, Thomas Dambo has been creating an army of trolls. Roughly 100 large-scale sculptures of mythical beings are scattered across the globe. Usually sitting or standing between 12 and 20 feet tall, the wooden figures preside over natural spaces like forests and coastlines. “I want people to know that trash has value. My trolls do that, and also help me tell stories, like the legends I grew up with,” said Dambo in a statement. “In nature, there is no landfill. Nature is circular, everything has a meaning and everything is recycled.”

The trolls are created from local materials from the forest, meadows, mountains, farms, and sea, including fir branches, driftwood, moss, shells, cedar, and apple branches. The Danish artist hopes the trolls will encourage members of the public to go out into nature and think more about conservation.

Each troll gets a name as well as an enchanting backstory that connects to a theme. Dambo’s Northwest trolls will stand for at least three years, with the possibility of an extension. You can head now to Lincoln Park in West Seattle to meet Bruun Idun, or north to Ballard to see Frankie Feetspliners at the National Nordic Museum. A short 20-to 30-minute drive east of Seattle will bring you to Jakob Two Trees in Issaquah. You could also take a ferry ride to Vashon Island to see Oscar the Bird King or to Sakai Park on Bainbridge Island to meet Pia the Peacekeeper.

Finding the trolls can be an adventure in itself. Part of the pre-fun is figuring out what each poem means. Five are located less than 20 minutes out of downtown Seattle. The fifth is located in Portland. It’s up to you whether you’d like to do a little exploring on foot to find the giant trolls yourself or plan ahead with the help of a map. The creator tells us that the trolls are only part of the project. He hopes the sculptures also encourage visitors to engage with their surroundings. “It’s not really only about my art,” he tells NPR’s Elizabeth Blair. “It’s also a lot about that experience you get when you walk around in nature and in the forest.”

The Northwest Trolls website includes more information about each troll as well as a free geocaching app to aid you in your adventure. Here is some background on the four in the Seattle area.

  • Bainbridge Island Pia the Peace Keeper
    Bainbridge Island Pia the Peace Keeper

Nordic Museum, Ballard Area

Unlike other trolls, Frankie is not lurking hidden in the woods. He’s keeping watch at the entrance of the National Nordic Museum right along Market Street in Ballard.

Frankie don’t like slimy fish, cause fishes are all so dumb
And Frankie don’t like little humans, humans are so dumb
Frankie don’t even like trolls, cause trolls are also dumb
But Frankie’s mouth’s the only one that says the word of dumb

Lincoln Park, West Seattle
Bruun Idun, the troll of West Seattle, plays a flute to orcas at the water’s edge.

In the night there was a storm, there at the beach where she was born
And Idun felt a feeling wrong, and so she walked there in the dawn
And in a flute the magic horn, a tunes so passionate and strong
She played for them orca song, to ask them where they all have gone

Find Jakob Two Trees along the Rainier Trail near the Issaquah Community Center.

A thousands circle suns not old
Time will stretch and loop and fold
So stop breath out, breath in, behold
The trees has sung, a story told

Point Robinson, Vashon  Island

He swam here from the island, where hi momma once had birthed him
He walked across the mountains till his giant feet was Hurting
He spoke a crows and little girl, the orcas he heard him sing
He used to be a little troll, now Oscar is The Bird king

She keeps the peace at Sakai Park on Bainbridge Island.

Pretty pretty please, let’s keep the peace beneath the trees
Hold you in my hand I will remind you with a squeeze
Quiet little people cause your criers make me tired
Pia likes to play with people, people they keep quiet

It’s free to visit the trolls but keep in mind that locations get busy. Be respectful of the public art as well as the facilities hosting the trolls and have patience finding each troll.


Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit





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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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