Mike is a freelance writer and researcher who enjoys exploring history, urban legends, myths, rabbit holes and old folk stories.
There's something about Trovants and their weird spherical and cylindrical shapes that instantly make them stand out from the rocks and stones around them. But these rocks don't just look unique but have incredible abilities you wouldn't expect from such objects.
Not only do Trovants seem as if to move on their own, but they grow and multiply too. And some Trovants even contain concentric rings inside them, like those of trees. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, some have even taken to describing these rocks as "living."
What Are Trovants?
Trovants are sometimes referred to as "living stones," "growing stones," or the "stones of Costesti" after their most famous location in Romania. Their name is a synonym from the German word "Sandsteinkonkretionen," meaning "cemented sand." They also sometimes go by the name "Trovanti."
These strange stones can vary in size from pebbles to giant boulders weighing several tons, and many have strange and beautiful nodular-like shapes. As a result, some trovants have become natural landmarks. One of the most famous examples of trovants is "The Old Ladies from Ulmet," so named for their shape.
Do Trovants Really Move, Multiply and Grow?
The short answer is yes. However, estimates suggest that they only grow around 4-5 centimetres (1.6-2 inches) every 1,000 years. So, don't expect to be able to stand around and watch these things expanding before your eyes.
Trovants are also known to move, albeit again very slowly. This phenomenon is directly related to their growth as they often dislodge themselves from the ground and move small distances over time.
The expansion of these trovants is also behind how they seem to multiply. As the trovants grow, parts of them will occasionally fall off to create a new Trovant, giving the illusion that they are reproducing over long periods.
Adding to their lifelike qualities is the fact that trovants broken by geologists have been shown to have age rings, not unlike trees. They sometimes also have root-like extensions.
The Science Behind Trovants
So what's really going on with these stones? Unfortunately, there has yet to be much in the way of published scientific study, and much of the information you'll find online is contradictory. That said, geologists do have some ideas of what's going on.
Early studies suggested that the stones were sandstone concretions composed of a rigid solid core around which matter accumulated. The theory behind their growth was that heavy rains reacted with the outer crust, which put pressure on the inner core, causing the trovants to expand outwards from the inside out.
However, since 2008, the consensus has been that these stones do not have a distinct, solid core and are a mixture of sand and minerals that absorb additional minerals from rainwater.
It's also believed that the famous Romanian trovants initially formed on the bottom of the Paratethis Sea, an ancient body of salty water that covered the lands where they now reside.
There's still more research to be done, of course. But what can be said with absolute certainty is that these stones are not living. And they are not some fantasy story come to life.
Nonetheless, that has yet to stop them from being a source of imagination and stories.
Tourism and Myths Surrounding Trovants
In Romania, Trovants have become a minor tourist attraction. And in 2004, the "Muzeul Trovantilor" or "The Trovants Museum Natural Reserve" was created to protect these unique geological features.
Having watched the stones grow, expand and move over hundreds of years, many locals have incorporated Trovants into their local legends and myths, some of which suggest that they have restorative powers. And there are reports of people travelling miles to see and touch the stones.
One local superstition is that the trovants bring good luck, and it is said that some local residents keep Trovants in their gardens. Some reports online say people will water the Trovants to avoid their wrath.
Other stories connect the stones to legends of giants (known as the Tara Luanei) who used to roam the land. And, of course, others have suggested that aliens and advanced spacecraft have something to do with the rocks.
Trovants Aren't the Only Rocks That Seem to Move by Themselves
Trovants are pretty unique, but they're not the only stones that seem to have a knack for moving about independently. And the sailing stones of the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley have gained a similar reputation for how they drift through their landscape and leave trails in their wake.
The matter of how the sailing stones moved remained a mystery for quite some time. That is, until 2014, when scientists captured their movement on camera for the first time. The resulting evidence suggests that the stones do not move all by themselves but that wind-propelled ice collects behind the rocks and slowly inches them forward.
Landscapes Are Ever-Changing
The Trovants may not be alive, but they are no less fascinating. And if nothing else, they teach us that the landscapes around us are not impenetrable to time but can change and alter in incredible ways.
Archaic Knowledge (n.d.) Science and Legends Behind the “Living Stones” Known as Trovants. Available at: https://www.archaicknowledge.com/trovants-living-stones-science-legends/
Atlas Obscura (n.d.) Trovants of Costesti, Romania. Available at https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/trovants-costesti-valcea-county-romania
DC Adventure Travel (n.d.) The Oldwomen from Ulmet (The Trovants). Available at https://dcadventuretravel.com/the-oldwomen-from-ulmet/
Geology In (n.d.) The Mysterious Living Stones of Romania: They Grow and Move. Available at: https://www.geologyin.com/2018/04/the-mysterious-living-stones-of-romania.html
Melinte-Dobrinescu, M.C. et al. (2017) ‘The Geological and Palaeontological Heritage of the Buzău Land Geopark (Carpathians, Romania)’, Geoheritage, 9(2), pp. 225–236.
National Park Foundation (n.d.), The Sailing Stones of Death Valley. Available: at https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/sailing-stones-death-valley
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Mike Grindle