The state-run Danish Council for Independent Research (Det Frie Forskningsråd – DFF) has announced its financial support of nine PhD projects, one of which will delve into the supposed presence of supernatural beings on the island of Bornholm.
According to Politiken, the cost of each PhD project is 2.5 million kroner ($428,000).
Lars Christian Kofoed Rømer, the happy recipient of the supernatural funding, told Politiken that his thesis will look at the relationship between popular folklore and 'actual relationships' with what he refers to as 'underearthlings' that are rumoured to live on Bornholm.
Bornholm has embraced the popular myth of its troll inhabitants. The island's official tourism website tells the story of Krølle Bølle, "the national troll of Bornholm". The "small and cute" Krølle Bølle lives with his troll family on the 76-metre high Langebjerg, coming out every night at midnight to have "many exciting adventures".
Rømer told Politiken that he finds it fascinating that the tale of Krølle Bølle, who was created by Ludvig Mahler in 1946, continues to thrive in today's world. He therefore wants to explore the creature's 'physical manifestations' on the island.
"It can be creatures – most people are familiar with Krølle Bølle, a popularised version of natural being – and it can be special places in the nature that have unique vibes," he said.
Rømer has spent the past two-plus years studying descriptions of ghosts and the relation to death in Danish folklore before now moving on to the underground inhabitants of Bornholm.
DFF's chairman of the board, Peter Munk Christiansen, declined to comment on specific projects funded by the council but said that DFF has a wide definition of what constitutes a useful study.
"At DFF we believe that humanistic research should be funded on equal footing with all other research areas and we actually support that area more than we support societal research. We profess a pluralism and broad coverage – we don't just pursue things that are the most popular right now," Christiansen told Politiken.
DFF, which is part of the Ministry for Higher Education and Science, has an annual budget of 1.2 billion kroner, 22.5 million kroner of which goes to PhD projects outside of the university system like Rømer's troll research.