Scandinavian Folklore and Folktales: The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Every month we will write a post on a different Scandinavian folktale or folklore. This month we will look at a Norwegian folktale called “De tre bukkene Bruse” or Three Billy Goats Gruff.

The fairy tale was collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their Norske Folkeeventyr, first published between 1841 and 1844. The first version of the story in English appeared in George Webbe Dasent’s translation of some of the Norske Folkeeventyr, published as Popular Tales from the Norse in 1859. You can find it today in D’Aulaires’ Book of Norwegian Folktales.

The original story has a more gruesome and gory ending (as did most fairy tales and folk tales at that time) than you were probably told.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff story we are featuring is from the University of Pittsburgh’s Folklore and Mythology library. We thank them for this wonderful resource.

It starts like this:

Once upon a time there were three billy goats, who were to go up to the hillside to make themselves fat, and the name of all three was “Gruff.”

On the way up was a bridge over a cascading stream they had to cross; and under the bridge lived a great ugly troll , with eyes as big as saucers, and a nose as long as a poker.

Pretty exciting, huh?

You can read it (and download it) here: The Three Billy Goats Gruff story

You can also have it read to you here:

And after all that you can just hangout with some Norwegian goats.