The History of the Iron Age. And The history of the Vikings.

Those people living in Scandinavia (Sweden Norway and Denmark) for about 1000-1500 years ago were called Vikings. The time-period is also called the Viking Time.
The word Viking is supposed to come from ” Vik” which means a creek, somebody who lived close to water. ( Just like the English name Cliff ” the man who lived by the Cliff” ) In this old time Viking stands for Pirate.
The bridge from The Bronze age to the Iron age is marked by the use of iron instead of bronze. Then a more hard and solid metal. Besides the use of iron we can also notice new modes of graves, where cremation got a superior meaning and the former grave-gifts become less and less.
In Sweden and in the villages “Skedemosse” and “Gärdslösa” many sacrifices and offerings have been found. The place is today a piece of farming land but was during the Iron age a lake, where people and animal, was killed and buried in order to appease the supernatural powers.
Among the many things found are jewellery, golden rings and bracelets and a great amount of
swords and spears. No doubt about the most central Holy place for solemn worshipping.

During the Roman Iron Age we have two important villages on the Isle “Öland” (exactly translated as the Island) Rosendal and Skäfteskärr were villages then with lots of people living there, but not possible to name as States or Countries. Their leaders were more like a Chief and could connect big men from different places to a common region.

Many were those men who travelled by their boats to Southern places for merchandising of
leather hides and skin for dressing and also wool.

The big epoch of migration is really an historical time during the first thousand years A.D.
Many different folks were moving above the European continent.
The Germanic migration of tribes had most importance for the Western Europe and occurs
between the years 375 and 568 reflecting the usual period that starts with the attack of the Huns towards the East Geatish (Old Norce )and is ended with the Langobards attack in Italy. (to be read about in the Historical work of 6 books written by the St.Benedict’s Munk, Paulus Diaconus) telling us the mythological history of the kinship of Langobards in Scandinavia.
It also contains much of interesting facts from the Byzantine State and the Frankish people and society.

So back to Sweden again and to the many excavations in and around the Big Southern Ridge,
with lots of hills and boulder ridges from the break-up of ice during the last Glacial-Period.
The archaeologists making serious investigations in the area and it is shown that here the process of manufacturing iron, was active already during 400.-600 A.D. The area contains lots of Bog Iron, ( a form of Impure Iron that develops of chemical oxidation) necessary for Iron production. Also founded are big ovens and tools.

Now I move to Gotland, the other Island in the Baltic Sea a bit north of Öland.
Here we have 42000 known ancient monuments, among those, many from the Bronze and the Iron Age. Big fields of graves, (arkeol.) Ship barrows, a great amount of unique Stones from the Year 700, with carved histories, boats and swords telling stories of that rich view of ancient time. Sometimes from literary tales of the poetic Eddan, the Nordic Mythology.

Many buildings of “Långhus” 16m and more stables and whole villages have been excavated in the ground. especially on Öland and Gotland, where it is possible to find the foundations of the buildings.
Why, Cause the normal way of using clay was not popular here when so much of stones were
found to become strong and a good building material. All parts in wood have been depraved and rotten years ago.

The Run Stones ( now carved with the first written letters called the Futhark with 24 different
patterns,are being used from the first 1000 years A.D.
The most important of these Run Stones are those from Scania, Blekinge and Halland As well as those from Gotland showing the first real alphabet from the year 300 A.D.

The many graves containing swords spears and axes are the most interesting parts. It has been found today that the men buried during the Iron Age must have had a profession as Legoknektar (Mercanaries) within the Roman Military Forces even at a time long before the year 500 A.D.

Their weapons and other assets buried together with the corpse show evidently traces from a Rome during that time. A special discovery newly made of a man buried with his sword spears and tools has been exposed for a genealogical investigation. His bones from the foot to the knee and the hipbone are measured and believe it or not, he seems to have had a length of 1.96 m.
During the Iron Age, Rome had already a cultivated language and plates in stones with written messages were to be seen on streets and open places. It was here the Scandinavians learned to read.
Returning home, they also found out a way to express and write their own, sometimes very strange sound, as “läspljud” Þ, törn, thorn, þorn and deep very harsh R-sound.The beginning of the Runskrift I have shown a bit up on this page.
The Vikings, and the Black Smiths with impressing skill in iron producing become a great asset to the Romans. In return we got a lot of knowledge.We have the gold coins the rings and bracelets and the rich jewellery from Rome buried here together with the history of our ancestors and our Nation.

And who knows what else we have shared. A most interesting time of our History that’s for sure.

January 2018 Kerstin Centervall