9. Bronze Age
11. Roman Iron Age
|1. Introduction||2. Geography and Climate|
|3. Society||4. Weapons|
|5. Religion||6. Cimbri's Expedition|
|7. Bog Bodies||8. Litterature|
Timeline from Neolitic to historical time.
The oldest part of the Iron Age is commonly called the Celtic Iron Age because it took
place at the same time as the Celts and the Celtic culture dominated in central Europe. Some prefer to call the period the pre-Roman Iron Age, believing that the name "Celtic Iron Age" may cause incorrect associations toward that Denmark was Celtic or Celtic culture prevailed during this period.
Section of the Ptolemy World Map. It is based on his book Geographia, which he wrote about
150 AD. The geographical name of Jutland was Chersonesus Cimbrica, the Cimbrian peninsula, and
it was called so precisely because the Cimbri lived there.
Many historians have had different ideas. The Swede Oluf Rudbeck placed Cimbri in the city of Cimbrishamn in Scania. The German Mullenhoff took it for granted that the Cimbri came from northern Germany. An Englishman, James Rankin, believed that Cimbri was one of Israel's lost tribes.
But the most important of the ancient authors, Ptolemy, Pompey Mela, Pliny the Elder and partly Strabo relate that the Cimbri lived on a peninsula in the Northern Ocean, and east of this peninsula is a large bay with countless islands. It can hardly be misunderstood.
Nothing indicates that there have been Celts in Denmark or the Celtic culture had dominated. Southern Scandinavia was a Germanic heartland, and this is confirmed by numerous finds. However, we must assume that it was inspiration from the Celtic La Tene culture, which made the Scandinavian people capable of extracting iron from bog iron ore.
Bog iron ore is found in wet areas, especially along rivers and lakes, where the ferrous groundwater comes to the surface and becomes oxidized. Bog iron ore precipitates to form a more or less compact layer 15-30 cm under the turf. By far the largest deposits of Danish bog iron ore are found on the sandy lime free West Jutland heaths south and west of Viborg and down to the border, that is in the part of the country that was free of ice during the last ice age. There is only insignificant bog iron ore deposits in Eastern and Northern Jylland, Fyn, Sjælland and other islands, because the clay soil of the moraine landscape is too compact to allow sufficient quantities of groundwater to seep through and dissolve sufficient iron.
Iron production in ancient times has traditionally been localized in Jutland, and it is tempting to believe that the Iron Age began in Jutland.
Left: A piece of bog iron ore that Vagn F. Buchwald from Danish Geological Society has found
in his garden in Skanderborg.
Right: Iron Age village at Hvolris near Viborg in December 2010. A group history interested inhabited the houses in December. Photo: Niels-Christian Jönsson.
Bronze Age's end and start of the Celtic Iron Age is traditionally considered to have taken place about 500 BC, and the period lasted until around the birth of Christ. Some think, however, that the Iron Age started two hundred years later.
The occurrence of bog iron ore in Denmark according to Danmarks Geologiske Undersøgelser.
Bronze was still used throughout the period, but now mainly for decorative objects, such as neck rings, wagon fittings, parts of harness for horses and the like. This was designed in the same style as known from the Bronze Age.
A few hundred years before the transition from Bronze to Iron Age occurred a climate change so that the Bronze Age's relatively warm and dry subboreal climate was replaced by a colder and wetter subatlantic climate. The Iron Age's walled villages were larger and probably more populous than the Bronze Age villages. Due to constant increase of population density the Iron Age landscape became more and more intensively utilized.
The Bronze Age slipped quietly into the Iron Age, and it does not seem that there was any abrupt changes in society by the introduction of the new material. The late Bronze Age funeral custom of cremation and depositing the ashes in urns was maintained, and also the custom to sacrifice to the usual gods in the bogs continued, as it had been done for millennia; all of which indicate a cultural continuity from the Bronze to the Iron Age.
At the end of the Celtic Iron Age, the Germanic tribes were first mentioned in written history, particularly because of the Cimbri's and Teuton's invasion of the Roman Empire that the Romans narrowly rejected. This expedition has often been described as a forewarning of the turbulent Migration Age, that should come some hundreds years later.
Denmark's geography in the Iron Age was very similar to its modern geography except that
Jyllands coastline facing the North Sea, in all probability was located further west than today. Before the birth of Christ, the island of Sild was part of the marshland along the west coast of Jutland. Archaeological excavations have shown that it was already inhabited in the Neolithic. On the island have been found burial urns from the Bronze Age and small-mound graves from the Celtic Iron Age.
Rømø, Fanø, Skallingen and parts of Holmslands Klit have been formed by sand, fed by the current over the years; they have probably been only partially formed in the Iron Age. Skagens Gren has in the same way been formed of sand fed by the current, and it did not exist in the same extent in the past.
About 15,000 years ago - 13,000 BC - the ice sheet, that covered almost all of Scandinavia, slowly began to melt away. The reindeer walked to the north followed by the reindeer hunters. It is decided that the Ice Age in Denmark finally ended about 9,700 years ago. The green line represents the temperature on the surface of the ice. Dryas is the Latin name for the Arctic plant mountain avens, which is very hardy and the first to grow up after the ice has melted.
The temperature rose, and Denmark became completely covered by an primeval forest in which the Maglemose people hunted and fished. They were followed by the hunters of the Kongemose Culture, which with great certainty were the descendants of the Maglemose people. The following Ertebølle culture hunted and fished mostly along the coasts. Only in the Peasant Stone Age the people began to keep animals and cultivate the soil. About 500 BC the Bronze Age was replaced by the Iron Age's three periods. The Viking Age began with the attack on the monastery St. Cuthbert on the island of Lindisfarne in England in 793 AD and ended with the killing of Canute the Holy in 1086 AD in Odense. The Middle Ages ended in 1536 with the Civil War, the Count Feud, and the Lutheran Reformation.
The Minoan warm period occurred around the middle of the Bronze Age and lasted some hundred years, it was followed by the Celtic Iron Age cold period that lasted until the start of the Roman Warm Period, which occurred a few hundred years before birth of Christ.
In 60% of Denmark's history, the main occupations have been hunting and fishing. In 75% of the time has been a kind of Stone Age.
The west coast of northern Jylland is constantly eroded by the sea, and it has certainly stretched farther west than today. Limfjorden was open to the North Sea, as the opening first sanded up in the Viking Age around 1100 AD. Some islands, such as Helgoland, Vresen, Hven and Saltholm were larger in the past than they are now. Lammefjorden, Saltbæk Vig, Lumby Strand near Odense and other, now drained areas, were shallow estuaries in the Iron Age.
Sailing in sheltered waters illustrated by Claus Deluran in Danmarks-Historie for Folket.
Ancient sources speak of the Cimbrian Promontory; we must assume that it has been Hanstholm, as it is the only nature formation that can create reminiscent of a mountain along this coast.
Sailing along the west coast of Jutland in open sea has always been dangerous, and it is hard to imagine that flimsy Iron Age boats or Roman galleys could navigate these waters, as Emperor Augustus reported.
Archaeologists from Ringkøbing Museum imagine that in the past a kind of sheltered water route existed so that Nissum Fjord in the north and Ringkøbing Fjord in the south were mutually connected. They believe that it had been possible to sail from Nissum Fjord against south through a passage at Kast to Husby Sø and Nørresø, thence west through the strait at Åhus and then south again along the current Husby Klit to Vest Stadil Fjord and Stadil Fjord. Holmsland was an island. This would explain the Roman expedition to "The Cimbri land, where no Roman before that time had ever been."
Already then, blowing sand was a big problem. Under many of today's dune areas in Thy and western Jutland have been found remains of ancient houses and fields.
The last centuries of the Bronze Age and most of the Celtic Iron Age was a cold period that separated the Minoan warm period, which occurred in the middle of the Bronze Age, and the Roman warming period that occurred around the birth of Christ.
Left: Excavation of Iron Age house at Klegod on Holmsland Klit. From Gyldendals og Politikens Danmarkshistorie bind 1.
Right: Cut in a peat-bog, which shows dark and light horizontal sections, which represents respectively cold/humid and hot/dry periods.
In the 1800's the Norwegian Axel Blytt and the Swede Rutger Sernander developed their period division of the Holocene climate based on studies of Danish peat bogs.
When the climate is moist and cold, raised bogs are growing rapidly, which gives the peat a light color. In contrast, when the climate is hot and dry, they grow slowly, giving the turf a dark color. By making cuts in peat layers they could determine, whether it had been hot and dry or cold and humid in the periods, which the layers represented.
Blytts and Sernanders theory has been subject to some criticism in modern times, but some of their results have been confirmed by more modern works, including the transition from sub-boreal to sub-atlantic climate, which took place around 600-700 BC that is to say a few hundred years before the transition from Bronze to Iron Age.
Top: Iron Age fields in Store Vildmose north of Aalborg. Under the raised bog peat at least two square kilometer Iron Age fields with distinct traces from ard and wheel tracks have been
excavated. The fields appear as they were abandoned and covered by the raised bog in Celtic Iron Age. From Gyldendals og Politikens Danmarkshistorie bind 2.
Bottom: Iron Age fields on Astrup Hede at Giver in West Himmerland - Framed by low ridges, as they were left by Iron Age peasants. From "Danmarks Oldtid 3" by Johannes Brøndsted.
In the Bronze Age's warm and dry sub-boreal climate average temperature was close to two
degrees higher than in modern times, while the sub-atlantic climate, that prevailed especially in early Celtic Iron Age, was rainy and cool, and the temperature was close to
one degree colder than in modern times.
The author Martin A. Hansen did not put fingers between in his description of the Iron Age climate in his novel "Orm and Tyr" from 1952. With unfailing storytelling, he elaborated the doomsday prophets' predictions. At that time most was not afraid of global warming, the climate alarmist rather feared a new ice age.
In the novel, he described how accidents and crop failures poured down on the Iron Age farmers: "grain is slashed to the ground, while it is green, becoming overgrown with bulging wild herbs, will not mature, become rotten. Mosses and lichens grow thick on the tree trunks of the forest, the trees get stockings on of cancer. The trees wither, in many places the forest become a morass of rotting fallen trees." He describes in the novel, how everything goes wrong and the climate disaster forces its way into the houses, where Iron Age people in winter-frozen mornings could find their "dead animals lying up to the wall of the house with spiky legs, wet from the dripping from the roof."
Floor plan of Iron Age house from the village Grøntoft near Herning - The booths for the housing of cattle during the winter can be seen clearly. The stable always faces east. From Gyldendals og Politikens Danmarkshistorie.
There is no doubt that the Celtic Iron Age cold period was a cold and wet time. Studies of North European bogs show a picture of a significant climate change from a dry and sunny Bronze Age to a cold and rainy Iron Age climate. Groundwater increased and many depressions in the landscape were transformed into new bogs. In low-lying areas, Iron Age farmers in both the Netherlands and Denmark had to abandon their settlements. In Denmark, it is detected in both Lille Vildmose south-east of Aalborg and in Store Vildmose north of Aalborg.
No indications have been found that the farmers had cattle in a stable in winter in the actual Bronze Age; in all probability, they stayed outside all year round in the mild climate. In contrast, it is certain that the Iron Age peasants had cattle in stables during winter. In almost all house floor plans from this period can animal booths be detected in the houses' east ends.
The Roman warm period started quite suddenly around 250 BC and thereby the weather in Scandinavia again became relatively warm and sunny, but not quite as hot as it had been during the Minoan warm period in the middle of the Bronze Age.
Pytheas in front of the Stock Exchange in Marseille.
Around 310 to 300 f. Kr. the Greek explorer Pytheas from Massalia (Marseille) traveled Western Europe's shores. He came to Scotland and the Hebrides, where he saw waves that
were "80 cubits high" (cubit is an ancient length unit at 45.72 cm). He sailed to the island of Thule, which was located 6 days and 6 nights sailing north of Berrice, which is assumed to be the Shetland Islands. There is some uncertainty about whether Pytheas' Thule is Faroe Islands, Iceland or West Norway.
He described Thule as an island located six days sailing north of Shetland, near the frozen sea. "There is no night at midsummer", he said, indicating that the island is located near the Arctic Circle, and he visited the island in summer. "The frozen sea is one day's sailing north of the island", he stated, which also indicates that the island was Iceland, rather than the Faroe Islands.
Pytheas said that the island was inhabited. People lived on millet and other herbs, and fruit and roots, and where there were grain and honey, they got their drink from it. The country was rainy and lacked sunshine, he wrote. This leads many to believe that he, in fact, landed in western Norway.
On his way back from Thule Pytheas must have visited southern Scandinavia and the coast of the North Sea or the Baltic Sea. He is referred in "Natural History" by Pliny the Elder: "Pytheas says that the Gutones (Guttonibus or Guionibus), a people of Germany, inhabit the shores of an estuary of the Ocean called Mentonomon, their territory extending a distance of six thousand stadia; that, at one day's sail from this territory, is the Isle of Abalus, upon the shores of which, amber is thrown up by the waves in spring, it being an excretion of the sea in a concrete form; as, also, that the inhabitants use this amber by way of fuel, and sell it to their neighbours, the Teutones."
Pytheas' travels - There are many opinions about his route. From "Off the Beaten Track in the Classics" by Carl Kaeppel.
The island Abalus may have been Helgoland, Zeeland in the Netherlands or the west coast of Jutland. Some researchers believe that it could have been placed at the Baltic Sea rich in amber, like the Polish coast, Gdansk or Klaipeda.
Pytheas's own accounts of his travels have namely been lost; we find them only as fragments in works of other ancient authors, it relates in particular to Strabo's "Geographica", Pliny the Elder's "Natural History" and passages of Diodorus of Sicily's "Historia". The point is that many of Pytheas' contemporaries did not believe that he had made such a travel.
Some researchers believe that Pytheas really was sent by Alexander the Great, who wanted to conquer also the western part of the world after he had completed the conquest of the eastern part. But Alexander died young and did not complete his project.
Pliny the Elder writes in "Natural History" on the Baltic Sea, southern Scandinavia, and the North Sea:
"After passing the Riphæan mountains we have now to follow the shores of the Northern Ocean on the left, until we arrive at Gades. In this direction a great number of islands are said to exist that have no name; among which there is one which lies opposite to Scythia, mentioned under the name of Baunonia and said to be at a distance of one day's sail from the mainland; and upon which, according to Timæus, amber is thrown up by the waves in the spring season. As to the remaining parts of these shores, they are only known from reports of doubtful authority. With reference to the Septentrional or Northern Ocean; Hecatæus calls it, after we have passed the mouth of the river Parapanisus, where it washes the Scythian shores, the Amalchian sea, the word "Amalchian" signifying in the language of these races, frozen. Philemon again says that it is called Morimarusa or the "Dead Sea" by the Cimbri, as far as the Promontory of Rubeas, beyond which it has the name of the Cronian Sea. Xenophon of Lampsacus tells us that at a distance of three days' sail from the shores of Scythia, there is an island of immense size called Baltia, which by Pytheas is called Basilia. Some islands called Oönæ are said to exist."
We can think these names may be latin, but in names Amalchian, Morimarusa and Cronian we might recognize an original proto-Indo-European language, as the first two clearly means something with stiffened or frozen, and mori- most likely means something with death, and -mar- something with the sea. Oönæ is very close to the modern Danish word for islands "øer".
Top: A traditional interpretation of Pliny's place names. - Pliny did not travel in these northern regions himself; he had his information from other authors including Philemon and Pytheas. Philemon writing is known only through Pliny's Naturalis Historia.
Online Latin-English or Latin-Danish dictionaries provide no useful response to "Codan" or "Codanus", but we can believe that it is the name of a river. Some believe that an ancient Proto-Indo-European word for river was "danu". The Danube was called in Latin, Danubius, and the English and the French call it still Danube, Rhone was called Rodanus, Don was called Tanais, the Dnieper was called Danapris or Danaper of the Greeks and Romans, the Dniester was called the Danastris or Danaster. The river Po in Italy was called Eridanos, which name also appears to have been used on the Milky Way in poetic connection.
One possible interpretation of the term Codanus is then that some ancient authors had perceived the Danish straits as the estuary of a gigantic river. And it is actually also what Pliny wrote: "Pytheas says that the Gutones, a people in Germania, inhabit the banks of a river estuary in the ocean called Mentonomon".
Bottom: Plinius the Elder - Naturalis Historia. Plinius himself did not draw any map, they are made from his descriptions in Naturalis Historia.
Ripaean mountains were mentioned by many ancient writers. It is uncertain where they were located, but it was agreed that they were high and covered by snow. One can imagine that Pliny meant the Carpathians.
Left: A hippopod with hooves.
Right: A phanesii with large ears though dressed. Both images are from the Schedelsche Weltchronik from 1493, also called the Nuremberg Chronicle.
One must say that Pliny had fanciful notions about the creatures that populated the islands in the Northern Sea: "There are reported the Isles Oonae, on which the inhabitants live on birds' eggs and wild oats. Others also, on which men are born with the feet of horses, and called Hippopodes. Others called Phanesii, who, being otherwise naked, have immensely great ears that cover their whole bodies."
The gulf Codanus, which is full of islands. Pliny wrote: "Pytheas says that the Gutones, a people in Germania, inhabit the banks of a river estuary in the ocean called Mentonomon. Their territory spans over a distance of six thousand stadium" (1100 km). From Wikipedia.
Pliny continued: "The Saevo Mountains, which are huge and not less than the Ripaean mountain range, form a huge bay called Codanus which extends all the way to the Cimbrian promontory, a bay full of islands, of which the most famous is Scatinavia which are of unknown size. As most of the part of the island, which is known, is inhabited by the race Hillevioni in 500 villages, (Latin: pagi, which means district, canton, hundred, province or region) therefore, the island is called a different world. It is assumed that Aeningia is not smaller." For some reason, Hillevioni is seen as something special, we do not know why and how. Some believe that the name Hillevioni is the origin of the name Halland.
Pliny concludes his description of the northern regions: "Some say that this part the whole way to the river Vistula is inhabited by Sarmati, Venedi, Scirii and Hirri that the Gulf is named Cylipenus and at its mouth, the island of Latris is located. Then follows another bay, Lagnus, which is bordering the Cimbrians. The Cimbrian promontory protrudes far into the sea, constituting a peninsula called Tastris. Next are the 23 islands that are known by Roman armies. Of these islands, the most famous is Burcana called Fabaria of us because of the great amount of corn, which grows wild. It is also called Glaesaria by the military because of amber. It is called Austeravia of the Barbarians and also Actania."
Bucana was thus an island with many names. Probably there were also many other islands and seas, which have many names, and this is a source of confusion. Perhaps different peoples in the area had different names for islands and seas.
Monumentum Ancyranum, which is Emperor Augustus' political testament, was found in Ankara in 1555 AC.
When the Roman emperor Augustus died in 14 AD two pillars of bronze were erected at his
mausoleum with an inscription that the Emperor himself had authored. The best-preserved copy was found in Ankara in 1555 AD.
Augustus wrote: "I extended the boundaries of all the provinces, which were bordered by races not yet subject to our empire. The provinces of the Gauls, the Spanish, and Germany, bounded by the ocean from Gades to the mouth of the Elbe, I reduced to a state of peace. The Alps, from the region which lies nearest to the Adriatic as far as the Tuscan Sea, I brought to a state of peace without waging on any tribe an unjust war. My fleet sailed from the mouth of the Rhine eastward as far as the lands of the Cimbri to which, up to that time, no Roman had ever penetrated either by land or by sea, and the Cimbri and Charydes and Semnones and other peoples of the Germans of that same region through their envoys sought my friendship and that of the Roman people."
Iron Age was a growth period in Denmark, the population increased and still bigger areas were taken into use for farming and cattle breeding. Many pollen analyzes indicate a heavily used, treeless landscape. It has been estimated that there lived about 400,000 people in Denmark in Celtic Iron Age.
Reconstruction of a farmhouse from older Celtic Iron Age. Photo: Mikael Holdgaard Nielsen.
The Iron Age villages were much larger than the previous Bronze Age villages. Pollen
analyzes have shown that big areas in the interior of Sjælland, where in the Bronze Age had been only scattered settlements, became cultivated. In West Jylland can be deduced from the findings that there was an extensive settlement expansion on poor soils. Regular heathland was taken under plow. True, it was converted to agricultural land, but the soil could not withstand prolonged intensive use.
As with other social animals, in groups of humans is always a social hierarchy - some members of the group are dominant and others have lower social rank and must submit. It is a precondition for that a social group can function, and thus it must also have been in the oldest Iron Age.
The beautifully decorated bronze weapons, the thousands of Bronze Age mounds built of turf from the fields and the large princely halls testify that the Bronze Age was an aristocratic society with a significant difference between high and low. There is no doubt that there also was a difference between people in the subsequent Celtic Iron Age, but the distance between top and bottom was in all likelihood not as great as in the previous period. From the Celtic Iron Age, there is in general no trace of Great men's show of their power and wealth in form of large tombs.
In the 1960s an extensive excavation of a village from the Celtic Iron Age was done on the land of the farm Grøntoft mid between Herning, Holstebro and Ringkøbing. You can clearly see the surrounding palisade and the booths, where the animals were housed during winter. This is an early stage of the village. One notes that all farms are of approximately equal size. The village gives the impression that there existed a fairly well-developed community. From Gyldendals og Politikens Danmarkshistorie bind 1.
The village Grøntoft was established in the early Iron Age quite close to a Bronze Age settlement. The Bronze Age village was located high in the landscape, as settlements from this period usually are. The Iron Age village, however, was located in some distance on sloping terrain with good drainage. The village at Grøntoft existed from about 450 to 150 BC. It included most of the period from 12 to 20 buildings, and there was room for about 50 humans and 70-80 animals.
As all houses in the Iron Age, buildings were oriented east-west. In this way, one of the long sides has been facing south, so that occasionally there have been shelter and sunshine in front of the house.
Left: Cross section and floor plan of Bronze Age house at Spjald not far from Grøntoft. It
had a width of about 8 m. and a floor plan area of approximately 300 m2. There was no provision for stable. Bronze Age houses were often located on hilltops, where they could be seen from afar. Apart from the floor plans, we do not know exactly how they looked like. But it's easy to imagine that they were painted or whitewashed and adorned with carved animal heads, as the Bronze Age ships are shown on the cliff carvings.
Right: Cross section and floor plan of the Iron Age house in Grøntoft. It had a floor plan area of less 100 m2 and in this figure nearly half is taken up by the stable. Iron Age houses were often placed in shelter of a hill on sloping terrain. It was clearly the case of another time and another climate. From Gyldendals og Politikens Danmarkshistorie.
Iron Age houses were relatively small, 7-11 meters long and a 5-6 meter wide; they were divided into two rooms - a living space and a stable for the animals, they had at least room for 6-8 housed animals and the larger houses for 14-16 animals. As had been the practice since New Stone Age they were constructed with two rows of inner roof-bearing pillars. The large, presumably splendid, princely halls of the Bronze Age existed no more.
The village was surrounded by a palisade. It has been too weak to resist an attack, properly it had the purpose to control the animals.
Grøntoft was moved several times during its 300-year existence. The cause had probably been that they wanted to cultivate the well-fertilized soil, on which the village had been placed. After a few generations the wooden buildings should be replaced, and so you might as well build in the outskirts of the old settlement. Eventually, the soil had been exhausted, and the Grøntoft people moved away.
Around 300-250 BC a fortress was built on a small islet in the middle of the impassable Borremose bog near Aars in Himmerland. The Iron Age people dug a 4 m. wide and 1.5 m. deep moat around the islet. The dredged material was thrown up in a defence-dyke, perhaps covered with wood, as was common in Europe at this time. The moat was about 450 meters long. In the bottom of the moat, they stacked thousands of tapered oak pins to prepare for a nasty surprise for potential enemies, who would seek to wade through the grave - a kind Iron Age barbed wire, which has been found in many places.
Within the ramparts, a village with 14 to 15 buildings had been built. There was a pond in the village's northwest corner, which guaranteed the residents' water supply during a possible siege. A paved road connected the fortress with the surrounding dry land.
Left: Aerial view of the Borremose fortress - Photo Vesthimmerlands Museum.
Right: The paved access road to the Borremose fortress. - Photo Wikipedia.
On older aerial photos of the Borremose bog can be identified extensive field systems of the type that was common in the Iron Age. The fields were rather small and bordered close up to each other. They were bordered by low ridges, and it is possible that some of them were fenced. Some believe that the Iron Age farmers kept their pigs on the fenced fields and let them rummage through the soil and thereby cleanse it of weeds and roots and fertilize it.
Yardstick found in the moat at Borremose fortress, it is divided into units of 16.5 cm, which corresponds to a half Greek foot.
By excavating the moat has been found many clay pots and wooden objects, including a yardstick divided into units of 16.5 cm, which corresponds to half of the ancient Greek foot of 33 cm.
The Borremose fortress was burned, systematically destroyed and abandoned around 100 BC.
Reconstruction of the Iron Age village Hodde made by archaeologists Steen and Lone Hvass, who led the extensive excavation in the first half of the 70's.
The village Hodde existed in the last century before the birth of Christ. It was a large village; at its peak, it included 27 farms with 53 houses and 200 to 300 inhabitants. Each farm was surrounded by a fence and the whole village was surrounded by a palisade as high as a person.
There was more difference between high and low in Hodde than there had been in Grøntoft some hundred years earlier. The main farm was significantly larger than the others with a 30 meter longhouse, where there was room for a large household and 30 cattle. The neighbor's farm was only half as large, and many houses had simply no room for animals. Therefore there must have been at least three community groups in Hodde: The main peasant, a number of ordinary peasants and people, who had to work for these first two groups as assistants. There was also a blacksmith who for reasons of fire danger had his workplace in some distance to the thatched farmhouses. Hodde disappeared after a fire.
At Sarup near Faaborg, Drengsted south of Ribe, Nørre Fjand at Nissum Fjord and Hedegård near Brande have been excavated similar but slightly different villages from the Celtic Iron Age.
During peat cutting in Præstemosen near Dejbjerg near Ringkøbing in West Jylland in 1881-83 were found two magnificent carriages from the Celtic Iron Age. They were excavated by archaeologist Henry Petersen. The wagons were probably made in Central Europe because the iron in the vehicle bodies has been forged from iron from central European mountains. We must assume that they have been used for some time in Denmark, as one of te wheel rims has been forged with steel from Danish bog iron ore.
Left: A Dejbjerg carriage on display in the National Museum. Note the big wheel with 14 spokes, which is great progress since the Bronze Age wheel with only 4 spokes - Photo Wikipedia.
Right: Old sunken road at Ajstrup near Hadsund.
The Dejbjerg carriages are regarded as the best preserved Celtic carriages from European Iron Age. They are made in typical Celtic style, magnificently decorated with bronze fittings, among other depicting faces. The two wagons design is similar, one is slightly larger than the other, and there is a difference in the decoration of the brackets.
Typical Celtic detail from a Dejbjerg carriage, which is very different from that time Scandinavian decoration - One could say that ancient Danes stuck to the old hunters' geometric patterns very long time. Life-like representations of people and animals, which are made in Denmark, are very rare in both Bronze Age and Iron Age.
In a field at Giver near Aars in Himmerland Anders Holm Kristensen found in 2013 with his metal detector parts, which turned out to be nail heads of inlaid red enamel from a similar magnificent vehicle as the Dejbjerg wagons. Its Celtic decorating reveals that it comes from a place just north of the Alps. Excavations carried out by Vesthimmerlands Museum in collaboration with Thy-Mors Detector Association revealed additional several hundred parts of the vehicle.
Some have argued that Europe, outside the Roman Empire, at this time was completely impassable and that actual roads did not exist. But the Dejbjerg and Giver wagons have undoubtely been produced in various locations in central Europe, and may probably have driven all the way home to Jylland. Besides, several authors tell that the Cimbri and Teutons used wagons to bring their wives and children with them around in Europe, so logically there must have been some kind of roads.
Many of the deep sunken roads, which still can be seen in slopes, forests and other uncultivated areas can well trace their origins back to the first part of the Iron Age or even earlier. The most visible sunken roads are associated with possible fords over streams or connected with places where it is possible to get around swampy areas in a natural way. Sunken roads pass often close to ancient monuments as dolmens and passage graves. Therefore, we believe that the sunken roads, that we see today, are just as old as the prehistoric memorials, that is more than five thousand years.
Roads were constructed over bogs and marshy areas on branches, planks or even as paved roads that we still can see in Borremose at Aars, Spellerup on Stevns, Tibirke on Sjælland and probably also in Risby Ådal at Vordingborg. At Krogsbølle near Bogense was found a stone road that led over a stream in a marshy hollow; close to the road have been found sacrificed weapons from early Celtic Iron Age.
In early Celtic Iron Age, around 350 BC, a foreign army landed on the island of Als. It was met with determined resistance by the locals, and in the battle that followed the intruders were defeated.
A war scene from Iron Age painted by Niels Bach. The picture could imagine the battle of Hjortspring on Als. It gives a good idea about how to use spears in a kind of one-hand bayonet fencing while protecting oneself with the shield in the other hand - Fra tollundmanden.dk.
As thanks for the victory, they submerged all captured equipment into the sacred Hjortspring Mose. Judged by the number of spearheads, shields and swords, at least 60 of the attackers were killed.
In Danish bogs have been found many such sacrifices to the gods in thanks for victory. It is characteristic that the sacrificed weapons and items have been systematically destroyed before they were deposited in the bog. The Roman writer Orosius tells of such a sacrifice after the Cimbri and the Teutons had triumphed in the South of France 105 BC - Only a few hundred years after the Battle of Hjortspring: "Having gained possession of both camps and of a huge amount of booty, the enemy seemed driven by some strange and unusual animus. They completely destroyed everything they had captured; clothing was cut to pieces and strewn about, gold and silver were thrown into the river, the breastplates of the men were hacked to pieces, the trappings of the horses were ruined, the horses themselves were drowned in whirlpools, and men, with nooses fastened around their necks, were hanged from trees. Thus the conqueror realized no booty, while the conquered obtained no mercy."
Top: A selection of spearheads made of iron, antler and bone found in Hjortspring Mose. We can see that the shape varies greatly. From: "Da våbnene tav - Hjortspringfundet og dets baggrund"
Bottom: 13 well-preserved spearheads of bone found in Kildebæk Mose south of Fredrikssund. They are mainly made of shin bones from sheep and goat.
Despite the large number found spearheads and shields only one ship has been found in
Hjortspring Mose, which could carry about 22-24 men, so one can imagine that some of the attackers escaped on the rest of the ships. Perhaps Als an early morning was attacked by an army of about 100 men - on possibly four ships.
A selection of shields found in Hjortspring Moses. As you can see the shape varies greatly, but generally, they are square towards the oval. One shield is missing shield boss and handle, another is missing only shield boss. All shield bosses were made of wood. From Danmarks Oldtid af Johannes Brøndsted.
The spear was by far the main weapon of the time. It can be calculated that each warrior was armed with two or three of these. Only a few had a short slashing sword. No battle axes have been found from the Celtic Iron Age. All warriors seem to have had a square somewhat oval wooden shield with a handle in the center protected by a shield boss. Between ten and twenty of the attackers wore chainmail.
Swords from Hjortspring Mose. To the left is a short slashing sword and to the right a more saber-like sword.
Everywhere in contemporary Europe, both among Germans, Greeks and Etruscans, the spear was the weapon of choice, only among the Celts, it was pushed into the background in favor of the sword.
In Hjortspring Mose were found 169 spearheads, and we know with certainty that there have been more, as there are reports of many spearheads found by previous peat cuttings. The 138 spearheads are of iron, while 31 are of bone or antler. They are of widely varying size and shape. The longest is 43.5 cm. long, while the shortest only 5 cm; most are between 10 and 20 centimeters. The iron points have been secured with a nail of iron or bronze through the spear shaft.
The spearheads of bone are most often made of shin bones from sheep or goat. They were shafted in the hollow of the bones and secured with rivets of bone or wood. A slanted cutting produced a sharp point in the bone side wall. They are beautifully polished and often decorated with concentric patterns. All spear shafts were made of ash.
The Hjortspring Boat Guild is a group of historically interested on the island of Als, who have built a full-scale reconstruction of the Hjortspring Boat. Here it is seen in fresh weather in the waters off Als.
Perhaps spears with bone tips were preferably javelins, which were sent against the enemy in the initial stage of the battle. In the following melee spears with iron heads were probably used in a kind of one-hand bayonet fencing. With the other hand, the warriors tried to fend off the enemy's blows with their square shields.
In the Hjortspring bog were found about 50 shields in roughly complete condition and many pieces. They are made of soft wood, which will not easily split, such as el, linden or birch. Some are cut in one piece, others are fitted together by two or three thin planks. In the middle of the shield is a hole for a handle, which is protected by a shield boss of wood. A contemporary leather shield has been found in Borremose at Aars of approximately the same size and shape as the Hjortspring shields. This suggests the possibility that shields originally had been covered with leather.
Model of the Hjortspring boat. It is seen that it looks like the ships of the Bronze Age rock carvings.
The Hjortspring boat is unique in that it is the first plank-built ship, which has been found in Denmark. All previously found vessels have been hollowed tree trunks.
It was a kind of light war canoe, which only weighed 530 kg. The total length was 17 m. and it was 2 m. wide. The boat's interior was 13.2 m. long. It was designed to be paddled forward by about 22 men. It was built from a wide base plank and four side planks, which were attached to bow blocks fore and aft. The whole thing has been sewn together with linden tree bast; all joints and holes from sewing have been sealed with a kind of oily sealing substance, which may have contained ox tallow. The whole ship was held in place by ten frames, which also served as rowing benches for the crew. Many of the paddles and a large steering oar are preserved. Fore and aft the keel plank and the railing frame were fitted with some trunk-like extensions.
Midship section of the Hjortspring Boat. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.
The Hjortspring Boat looks like the vessels on the Bronze Age petroglyphs. We must believe that it is an example of a type of ship from the Iron Age with deep roots in the Bronze Age.
In Hjortspring Mose also more civilian objects were found, which the warriors must have had with them. This include wooden cans, bowls, clubs, a wooden spoon and tools for working on ropes. It is interesting, that some of the wooden objects have been produced with a lathe.
Various less warlike items that were sacrificed in Hjortspring Bog together with ship
and weapons. It must be things that the attackers had brought with them.
a Cutting plate of wood - perhaps for cutting of meat, b Bellows tube of wood, c Wooden club, d A carved round wooden board , e Turned wooden can, f Turned wooden can, g Vessel of wood, h Wooden spoon - perhaps for porridge, i Bronze button, j Bronze needle, k Flat turned bowl of wood - a dish. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.
At Krogsbølle near Bogense have been found a large number of weapons scattered around the paved road through a bog; it is about 24 iron spearheads and 19 of bone, all similar types as those from Hjortspring Mose, and 6 single-edged swords and two double-edged. The Krogsbølle finding is 100 years younger than finds of Hjortspring. In Kildebæk Mose south of Fredrikssund have been found 13 well-preserved bone-spearheads. At Moderupgård south of Bogense are also found bone-spearheads, which are roughly contemporary with the Hjortspring finding.
In the middle of the Bronze Age, the Danish people began to burn their dead, and that they continued throughout the Celtic Iron Age. Everybody was burned, and ash and remains of bones were often put into an urn, much as most do nowadays. It seems likely that a people, who burn their dead, must have a belief of a soul, which at death is released from the "lifeless" body and then takes to somewhere else, being reborn or possibly is invisible staying some time among his descendants.
The urns were buried - much as in the Late Bronze Age - in the side, foot or top of existing mounds, under flat ground or small mounds were built over the buried urns. These small mounds are quite low and are often called "tue-graves".
Top: Plan of burial place from Celtic Iron Age at Årupgård between Ribe and Gram. The large circle at the top right represents a Bronze Age burial mound. The signatures small circle, cross and square and more below represent finds of fibulaes of different types, which are shown above each signature. It is known from other finds that different fibulae-types belong to different periods - fashion also changed in the
Celtic Iron Age. It can be demonstrated that the oldest fibulae-types are found most close to the Bronze Age burial mound. Therefore, one can conclude that the village's first burials took place in the side of the old mound or in its immediate vicinity, the following funerals took place near them but a little farther away, and thus the burial ground had slowly spread over the field with the original Bronze Age mound as a starting point.
This makes the entire burial ground's layout similar to a family tree with the original ancestor in the top represented by the mythical king from the Bronze Age, who was lying in the mound. From Danmarks Historie 1.
Mid: Excavation of burial site under flat ground at Sepstrup near Aarhus - From Danmarks Oldtid III by Johannes Brøndsted.
Bottom: Aerial view of tue-grave site at Årre near Varde during excavation - Foto Varde Museum.
Iron Age burial sites were often made in connection with ancient burial mounds from
Neolithic and Bronze Age, demonstrating the continuity of Danish culture. The tue-grave burial site at Årre between Esbjerg and Varde is a good example; it was started from a group of about 20 older burial mounds which were three long barrows from Neolithic around 3.000 BC and a number of large Bronze Age burial mounds from the period 1.700 to 1.000 BC The burial site was used by several Iron Age villages in the period 500-250 BC and included at least 1,000 funerals.
In fact, through millennia Danish peasants have respected the ancient burial mounds and plowed around them. They must have considered them to be the ancestral graves, which it was not appropriate to destroy. Only after the intensification of agriculture in the 1800's many mounds have been plowed over.
Top left: Urn grave from the burial site at Årre near Esbjerg and Varde - Varde Museum.
Bottom left: Burned spot grave at Storup on the island of Mors. The digging spoon gives an idea of the size. Excavated by Mors Arkæologisk Forening.
Bottom right: Urn burned pit at Lykkebjerg near Køstrup west of Middelfart. Urn burned pit is a cross between urn grave and burned spot grave. Photo Asger Halling Lorentzen.
The burial site at Årupgård east of Ribe was in use from 500 BC to 100 BC and includes 1,500 graves. The first and oldest urns were buried in the existing Bronze Age mound and later the burial site grew south until a length of nearly half a kilometer. It is easy to imagine that the inhabitants of this village considered themselves as
descendants of the famous ancient king, who lay in the Bronze Age mound. They must have had many long tales about the deeds of their famous ancestors, which were told at the hearth in the winter evenings.
In Jutland and on Funen can at least three different funeral types be identified: "urn graves", where the urn contains the - from the pyre carefully collected and cleaned - burned bones. "Burned spot grave", where the remains of the deceased along with everything else from pyre have been scraped into a hole in the ground and then covered. "Urn burned pit", which is a cross between the first two types; here the urn is still a resting place for the burned bones and around the urn, the rest of the pyre has been scraped together.
The Greek geographer Ptolemy (around 100 e.Kr) wrote that the Cimbrian peninsula was
inhabited by different tribes. Gudmund Schøtte - supported by works of previous researchers - has interpreted some of Ptolemy's tribal names. Kimbroi is Cimbri, where the name can
be recognized in the name Himmerland. Charudes are Hard-people, who are attached to the Hard Syssel. Siggulones denotes the tribe Segger or Sygger that occurs in Old English
heroic poetry, where it is mentioned that they live next to the Saxones in Old-Saxen.
Sabbaligoi are inhabitants of the peninsula Salling and connected to Salling Syssel around Limfjorden. Lakkobardoi is the Langobards or just the Bards around current Bardengau. Burition is Burgundy, who lived south of Burgunda Holm, who is the old name for the island of Bornholm. Virunoi can possibly be the medieval Varnaber at the river Varnow that flows in the Baltic at Warnemunde. Kimbrike Chersonesos is the Cimbrian Peninsula that is Jylland.
Furthermore, Poponius Mela wrote in Chorografi III, 31: "Across the Elbe is the mighty bay Codan, filled with large and small islands - In this are the Cimbri and Teotones and beyond it the Ermines, the outermost people of the Germania". Also in V, 54: "In the bay Kodan is the island Kodan-ouja, which the Teutons still lives on, it surpasses the other islands in both fertility and size" - Which together with the Ptolemy map suggests that the Teutons lived at the Baltic Sea and on an islands in the Codan Bay.
There are also many variations within these three main groups. Some burials are
under flat ground, in other cases, the remains of the deceased are buried under a little mound, a "tue", which may vary in diameter from 1 to 7 m. The mound may be built up of stones and soil or be surrounded by a ditch, edge stones or wooden fence. The urn may be surrounded by a stone packing or marked with a large stone; it can be provided with different types of lids.
All these differences in funeral customs must have had their roots in that the people of Jylland and Fyn has been divided into tribes or peoples as they would have called themselves. Based on grave forms and other archaeological material it has been suggested that Jylland had been divided into at least three major local areas, namely a Southern Jylland group, which included Slesvig and South Jylland with an approximate northern border line Vejle-Varde, a Mid Jylland group stretching from this line up against Limfjorden and a Northern Jutland group, which included the Limfjorden area, Vendsyssel, Thy and possibly Himmerland.
It's also what the emperor Augustus wrote in his political testament: "My fleet sailed across the ocean to the east from the mouth of the Rhine all the way to the land of the Cimbri, where no Roman before that time had ever been, and the Cimbri, Charydes, Semnones and other Germanic tribes in the same area asked through ambassadors for my and the Roman people's friendship."
Top left: Bracelets and necklaces of bronze from the small Smederup Mose nær Odder. From Damarks Oldtid 2.
Top right: Small well of wood found in Smederup Moses. From Danmarks Oldtid 2.
Below: Old wishing well at Malmøhus in Malmø. From My Opera.
Scania, Sjælland and the surrounding islands, however, are remarkably poor in finds from Celtic Iron Age, and some have concluded that maybe the original Bronze Age culture here continued yet some time, even though they had begun using the new metal for some purposes.
Ever since the Neolithic period, the Danes had sacrificed to the gods, who lived in the water of the bogs, and in Celtic Iron Age the usual gods were still revered.
In the bogs have been found several small bronze objects, mostly dress pins, jewelry, Bracelets and necklaces. In 1870 in the small Falling Mose near Horsens were found 270 small eyelet-rings. Over some years 150 thin arm and neck rings of different types have been recorded in Sattrup Mose near Aarhus. In Sal Mose near Viborg, archaeologists have found a significant number of rings of various types in three bundles.
Neck rings found at Røjle near Middelfart. A typical example of the rings, which by the hundreds were sacrificed in the bogs.
The biggest findings of this kind of are made in the small Smederup Mose near Odder in 1943; about 350 very thin arm and neck rings in a simple design with hook closure made of bronze were found here during peat cutting. In addition, there was a minor number of bracelets of thin bronze plate and a few other types.
Also in Smederup Mose peat cutters found in 1942 some large vertical planks standing around a hole filled with remnants of wood, fragments of pottery vessels, flint and more. The wooden parts could be reconstructed as the inner liner of a small well. It must be assumed that it has been a sacrifice well - or should we say wishing well; the now broken pottery must have contained food. It is similar to contemporary wells from a bog at Over Jersdal and one from Late Bronze Age at Budsene on the island of Møn.
We have to imagine that ordinary women and men now and then went to the sacred bog and sacrificed a dress pin or a simple bracelet to the water gods wishing their help in difficult situations in their private life.
This very day we can sacrifice a coin in special wish wells or fountains in hope of help from the Gods help to overcome our difficulties and achieve our goals.
Around the year 118 BC thousands of Cimbri left the graves of their ancestors, their villages and fields in Denmark, and went south to seek a better life. Later they were joined by the Teutons and Ambrones.
Map showing the Cimbri and Teutons' migrations. They probably followed the Elbe to the south, the ancient route, where amber and bronze have been traded.
Almost all ancient authors locate Cimbri's homeland as Northern Jylland. It is a bit less clear, where the Teutones came from, but several ancient authors point to Sjaelland. It is also unknown where the Ambrons came from, but many believe that the name is connected to the island of Amrun in the Wadden Sea. Since ancient historians speak of a flood that forced the Cimbrians to emigrate, one may also have to look for the hometowns of the Ambrons in the Frisian Wadden Sea.
In Geoffrey of Monmouth from 1136 AC, - more than thousand years later! - Ambrones are mentioned three times in connections in which it otherwise appears that this is about Saxons: "At the sight of him, Eldol, assured of victory, seized on the helmet of Hengist, and by main force dragged him in among the Britons, and then in transports of joy cried out with a loud voice, "God has fulfilled my desire! My brave soldiers, down, down, with your enemies the Ambrons. The victory is now in your hands: Hengist is defeated, and the day is your own."
The Ambrones appear always in the history together with the Teutons, and therefore one must believe that there has been a kind of community between the two peoples.
According to Greek and Roman historians, among other Clitarchus, Cimbri was in their home in Jylland exposed to the Cymbrian Flood, and this forced them to leave. Strabo, however, did not think that the flood was the real reason for the exodus; tides occur every day in these parts of the World, he argued.
However, it appears that there really occurred an unusual climatic event precisely at that time. By analyzing layers of turf in the bogs can be shown that while the lower, and thus older layer is dark, firm and hard and very chemically converted, there is - over a sudden and sharply defined boundary - a loose almost unkonverted mass of light brown peat, popularly called "dog meat". It consists almost entirely of peat, which must have plenty of moisture to grow. In other areas representing the same time, the bogs were covered with a layer of sand, gravel and clay ("Denmark: Introduction - Prehistory" - 1981 - Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
It sounds a lot like a flood or other disaster with torrential rains that may have motivated large parts of the Iron Age people to take to the south.
Some researchers have pointed to the problems of a growing population and depleted soils as the actual triggering causes of the exodus. Others suggest cattle diseases.
Cimbri are heading out.
It is likely that the Iron Age people now and then experinced periods with starvation.
The Vindeby girl is a bog body precisely from the Celtic Iron Age. She was found by peat cutting in 1952 at Vindeby near the city of Slesvig. She was 14 years old, when she died. There are 12 growth interruptions in her bones, which show that she in her short life had starved regularly, probably every winter causing her growth to be delayed.
Several bog bodies from the Celtic Iron Age have been found with weed seeds in the stomach, among other the Tollund man, Grauballe man and the Huldremose woman. In the Tollund man's stomach seeds from about 40 different wild plants were found; The Grauballe man had a last meal with at least 55 different bird seeds, but he had also eaten a little meat. Analyzes of the Grauballe Man also shows signs that he has starved, when he was 3-4 years of age.
Top left: The Vindeby girl.
Bottom left: The Tollund man.
Bottom right: Burned supply cellar from the Celtic Iron Age found at Overbygård in the southern Vendsyssel. The cellar contained a supply of weed seeds in separate pots. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.
It was first assumed that it was a kind of ritual last meal, but at the end of the
1970's the remains of a burnt supply cellar from the Celtic Iron Age was found near
Overbygård in southern Vendsyssel. It contained jars and vessels with about 100 liters
grain and weed seed, which were stored separately in individual vessels. This shows that weed seed was an ordinary part of the Iron Age diet.
Some British researchers have tried to prepare such a porridge of birdseed, which was Tollund Man's last meal and apparently ordinary diet in the Iron Age. They found it quite inedible. You must really be very hungry before you eat something like that.
Reconstruction of Borremose fortress before the emigration.
Evidence suggests that a significant exodus really took place precisely around 100 BC.
The Borremose fortress was systematically destroyed and abandoned around 100 BC.
The burials in the burial ground at Årupgård east of Ribe also stopped around 100 BC.
The Village Grøntoft ceased to exist about 150 BC. Remains of Iron Age fields enclosed by low embankments can still be seen in the heaths of Jylland; they were simply abandoned by their peasants towards the end of the Celtic Iron Age.
No one knows exactly when the Cimbri departed from Jylland; 120-118 BC is often mentioned. Through approximately 17-19 years they ravaged in Europe. Many ancient authors have written about them, but they had only knowledge of the Cimbri to the extent that they came in contact with the Roman world. Most of the approximately 17 years, however, they roamed marauding around in the Celtic world more or less outside the Greek's and Roman's sight.
By all accounts, the Cimbri followed the ancient "amber route" along the Elbe and down through Europe, along which the bronze has been brought north, and amber and other items - who knows, perhaps slaves - were taken to the south. The route crossed the Danube at Carnuntum near Vienna.
The Gundestrup kettle is a typical Celtic work.
Strabo quotes Poseidonus' claim that the Cimbri traveled all the way to the Sea of Azov and that the Kimmerian Bosporus, which is the mouth of this sea towards the Black Sea, had been named after them. It is most likely a mistake. But the Gundestrup kettle, which was found in a bog near the Borremose fortress comes undoubtedly from Bulgaria or Romania, so they may have been there.
Strabo says that the Cimbri fought against the Celtic Bojer in Bohemia - maybe around 115 BC - Where the Cimbri drew the short straw, he writes. But nevertheless, they were able to continue down the Danube to today's Serbia, where they waged war against the Skordisks.
But in 113 BC Cimbri came in contact with the Romans and so stepped into written history. They arrived in the Roman province of Norica, which roughly consisted of southern Austria bordering Slovenia. They contacted the Roman governor, named Carbo, and asked to be assigned land, where they could settle. This was rejected, but Carbo offered to make a guide available so that they could continue westwards. They accepted. But the guide led them through a difficult and time-consuming circuitous route, while consul Carbo used the time to raise an army, which lay in ambush, probably near Klagenfurt. The Romans must have anticipated that it would be an easy matter to overcome the Cimbri, sell them as slaves and cash a good profit. But they made up the bill without a host; consul Carbo and his entire army were completely defeated. Livy wrote: "the Cimbri - a wandering people - roamed marauding around in Illyricum. They defeated consul Papirius Carbo and his whole army."
Cimbri on the move.
The road to Rome now lay open, but the Cimbri were cautious, they chose to go north towards the Danube valley. Here they met the Helvetii, originally from Switzerland. Strabo wrote: "Helvetii were a people who had much gold, but who was also a peaceful people. When the Helvetii, however, saw that all the wealth, which the Cimbri had got from their plunder, far exceeded their own wealth, they became so aroused by the thought that they went along together with the Cimbri. This was especially the case for the tribes Tigyrines and Toygenes."
So far, the classical sources only talked about Cimbri. But in the spring of 112 BC, they met with their future comrades in arms the Teutones and Ambrones on the Rhine around Mainz.
Caesar mentions that the Belgian tribe Atuatuci "descended from the the Cimbri and the Teutons, who on their march towards our province and Italy placed that of their prey, which they could not bring with them, on the further bank of the Rhine (west bank), leaving six thousand men of their army as guards and garrison." Atuatuci lived around the modern Belgian town of Tongeren near Liege.
The Helvetiis are forcing the Romans to go under the yoke after the Helvetic Tigyrines had defeated a Roman army under consul L. Cassius in 107 BC. Painting by Charles Gleyre
from the 1800's.
In a few years, the Cimbri and their new allies toured ravaging and plundering around in
southern Gaul, that is southern France.
In 109 BC the Cimbri arrived in the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that very roughly corresponds to Provence on the French Mediterranean coast. They asked the governor, named Marcus Silanus, on land where they could settle, in return, they would make military service for Rome. He rejected them completely, and it came to a great battle, which the Romans lost. Livy wrote: "Consul Marcus Junius Silanus lost in a battle to the Cimbri. The Senate refused Cimbri's request for land to settle on."
In 107 BC the Roman senate sent consul L. Cassius over the Alps with an army with the task to attack and destroy the Cimbri and their comrades in arms. The Romans caught up the Helvetic Tigyrines, who, however, prepared an ambush in the region of Bordeaux at a place called Burdigala. They were commanded by their king, Diviko. Once again it was a complete defeat for the Romans. Consul Cassius and most of the army were killed. Poplius Laenas took charge of the rest of the army, and he agreed on peace conditions with the Cimbri and Tigyrines to save his own and his men's lives. However, he was charged with high treason, when he came back to Rome.
In the year 105 BC, the Cimbri and their allies met three Roman armies, which they all defeated in quick succession.
Cimbri, Teutons, Ambrones and Tigyrines were roaming southwards down through the Rhone Valley along the river's east bank. They were met by a Roman army under Æmillius Scaurus, who was completely defeated. Livy says: "Scaurus, the consul's commander, was captured by the Cimbri, when his army was defeated. He was called to negotiations, and when he tried to discourage the Cimbri to go over the Alps and into Italy, saying that they could not overcome the Romans, he was killed by Boiorix, a cruel young man. At Arausio (now Orange) the same enemies overcame consul Mallius and subsequently proconsul Servillius Cæpio, destroying their camps and killing 80,000 soldiers and 40,000 civil workers - According to Valerius Antias. Cæpio, who was responsible for the causality, was sentenced, and his properties were confiscated."
Scene from the Gundestrup cauldron, which resembles Strabo's description of the Cimbri's
sacrifice of prisoners of war. It shows either such a sacrifice or it may illustrate a
Strabo describes the Roman war prisoners' destiny at Arausio: "Their wives, who would accompany them on their expeditions, were attended by priestesses who were seers; these were grey-haired, clad in white, with flaxen cloaks fastened on with clasps, girt with girdles of bronze, and bare-footed; now sword in hand these priestesses would meet with the prisoners of war throughout the camp, and having first crowned them with wreaths would lead them to a brazen vessel of about twenty amphorae (530 liter); and they had a raised platform which the priestess would mount, and then, bending over the kettle, would cut the throat of each prisoner after he had been lifted up; and from the blood that poured forth into the vessel some of the priestesses would draw a prophecy, while still others would split open the body and from an inspection of the entrails would utter a prophecy of victory for their own people; and during the battles they would beat on the hides that were stretched over the wicker-bodies of the wagons and in this way produce an unearthly noise."
Orosius reports on how the Cimbri after the battle sacrificed their entire spoil to the gods: "Having gained possession of both camps and of a huge amount of booty, the enemy seemed driven by some strange and unusual animus. They completely destroyed everything they had captured; clothing was cut to pieces and strewn about, gold and silver were thrown into the river, the breastplates of the men were hacked to pieces, the trappings of the horses were ruined, the horses themselves were drowned in whirlpools, and men, with nooses fastened around their necks, were hanged from trees. Thus the conqueror realized no booty, while the conquered obtained no mercy." Something similar must have taken place at Hjortspring, only on a smaller scale.
Preserved Cimbric comb found in Hungary or Austria. In modern historical films, people always appears with ruffled and untidy hair - they have to be natural. However, in the
real world, it has always been important to be well groomed with a nicely arranged hair. The comb is in the style of the combs from the Danish Bronze Age graves.
Plutarchos wrote that the Cimbri were tall and had light blue eyes: "The most widespread presumption (about their origin) is that they are some of the Germanic peoples that extended as far as the northern ocean, an assumption based on their big stature, their light-blue eyes, and the fact that Germanis call robbers for Cimbri."
It is said that the Romans wondered that the Cimbri children had white hair like old people.
The height of a person can be calculated from the length of the thigh bone within an uncertainty of 2.3 cm. Austrian archaeologists have in this way calculated that the Cimbri were in average 174 cm. tall. We must assume that the skeletons have been from men. The staff at the Danish National Museum has analyzed the skeletal remains from the Early Iron Age finds in Denmark and concluded that the population's average body height was 161.7 cm for women and 174.3 cm for men. This fits very well together.
Left: A preserved Cimbric skull. Archaeologists in Hungary is said to store more than 10,000 skulls from various migratory peoples.
Right: Baker and Councilman Paquius Proculus and his wife. Wall Mural from Pompeii from around 50 AD.
How tall were then the Roman legionnaires? The catalog from an archaeological exhibition on Herculaneum, which was destroyed at Vesuvius' eruption in 69 AD, says that the average height of men was 160 cm. and the average height of women was 150 cm. Many of these may have been slaves or other lower class, maybe they been a bit malnourished. But if we assume that Roman soldiers have been up against 165 cm. high, it's probably not much wrong. At the same time, they have probably been more slender types than the Cimbri, like Latins often are.
Roman relief depicting the Battle 102 BC at that time Aquae Sextiae, which was near the town of Aix-en-Provence north of Marseille. A Roman army under Gaius Marius overcame finally the Teutons and Ambrones. Note that the Teutons and Ambrones are shown fighting naked. Some migratory people could do this, perhaps for religious reasons. Paul the Deacon tells that the later Heruls did precisely that, and they may also have come from Denmark; He did not know why.
None of the ancient writers mention that the Teutons or the Cimbri fought naked. Plutarchos mentions that the Cimbri used breastplates of iron, but of course, the Teutons could have had other traditions. Maybe the Romans just liked the idea of the harsh legionnaires, who resolutely cut down the naked barbarians.
Plutarchos writes about the prelude to the battle in 102 BC at Aquae Sextiae, which was near the city of Aix-en-Provence north of Marseille: "When Marius was informed that the enemy was approaching, he went in haste over the Alps, pitched a fortified camp by the river Rodanus (Rhone) and collected a plentiful supply in the camp." And further," The Teutones and Ambrones immediately broke their camp, went through the intermediate country and showed up in front of the Romans in an extremely large quantity - terrible to look at and with a screaming and a noise, which they never had heard before. They covered a large part of the plain, camped and challenged Marius to fight."
The Ambron women defending the wagon fort in the Battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BC.
Marius and his Romans, however, did not have any desire for fight. They stayed in their well-fortified camp.
In the end, the Teutons and Ambrones decided to ignore the Roman army and go directly against Italy. Plutarchos says: "So they packed up their baggage and began to march past the camp of the Romans. Then, indeed, the immensity of their numbers was made especially evident by the length of their line and the time required for their passage; for it is said they were six days in passing the fortifications of Marius, although they moved continuously. And they marched close to the camp, inquiring whether the Romans had any messages for their wives; "for," said they, "we shall soon be with them."
After the last Teutons had disappeared from sight, Marius broke up with his army and followed cautiously. The first encounter was with the Ambrones, and the fighting started by random when both parties wanted to get water from the same river. Instantly a violent fight broke out; men fought with what they had at hand, arms or utensils. From both sides soldiers to the place, and soon the battle was in full swing. The Ambrones attacked in battle order, while they rhythmically shouted their name "Ambrones - Ambrones ", but they were attacked by the Romans when they were about to cross a river, many Ambrones were killed, and the survivors fled to their wagon fort.
The Romans were deeply fascinated by the Ambrones' and Teutones' women's courage and commitment. Plutarchos tells of the battle at the Ambrones' wagon castle: "Here the women met them with swords and axes in their hands, and with hideous scream of rage they tried to drive away the refugees as well as their pursuers, the fleeing as traitors, and their pursuers as enemies, they mingled with the fighting, with the bare hands they tore the shields from Romans or grabbed their swords and endured wounds and mutilations, their fierce mind remained unchanged to the end. Thus, we are told, the battle of the river was started more by random than by the military leader's intent."
The Sequani tribe caught the fleeing King Teutobod and handed him over to the Romans.
The Romans retreated to their camp awaiting the Teutons' counterattack. However, in
several days nothing happened. Marius sent his deputy commander Claudius Marcellus with three thousand men up the mountain with orders to lie in ambush and fall the enemy in the back, when the battle had begun. The following morning, he himself arrayed with the rest of the army on high ground on an uneven plain awaiting the Teutons' attack.
When the Teutons saw this, they thought that they had a unique opportunity to beat the enemy and attacked immediately in organized formations. But the storming uphill took their strength, while they stumbled in the rugged terrain, which caused that they could not meet the enemy with the same shock-effect, as they used to do. When the battle was in progress Claudius Marcellus attacked them from behind with his three thousand men and created chaos in their formations.
The Romans prevailed completely and took reportedly hundred thousand prisoners and all the Teutons' wagons, tents and belongings.
However, the Cimbri passed over the Reschen Pass in 101 BC and were on the way down along the River Atiso (which today is called Adige). They captured a Roman fort, but they let the surviving defenders walk away, because they had defended themselves with such bravery, however, they first had to swear by the Cimbri bronze bull. The Roman general Catulus gave up trying to defend the pass and retreated toward the Po Valley.
Marius crossed the Po river with his army and joined Catulus. They sought to engage the Cimbri, which failed. The Cimbri demanded land for themselves and their comrades in arms, the Teutons, only they wondered that the Teutons did not come as agreed.
Kong Boeorix was killed in the battle of Vercellae - painted by an unknown artist.
Marius said mockingly: "Do not worry about your brothers, for they have already got land, and they will have it forever - land that we have given them." The Ambassadors
understood the sarcasm, but did not believe him, "Truly," said Marius, "they are here, and it will not be right for you to go away before you have embraced your brothers." As he said this, he ordered the Teutons kings to be led forward in chains. They had namely been caught by the Sequani tribe when they tried to escape over the Alps."
Plutarchos tells: "And now Boeorix the king of the Cimbri, with a small retinue, rode up towards the camp and challenged Marius to set a day and a place and come out and fight for the ownership of the country."
The Romans welcomed the invitation immediately: "Marius replied that the Romans never allowed their enemies to give them advice about fighting, but that he would nevertheless gratify the Cimbri in this matter. Accordingly, they decided that the day should be the third following, and the place the plain of Vercellae, which was suitable for the operations of the Roman cavalry, and would give the Cimbri room to deploy their numbers."
Marius' and Catulus united armies arrived at the battlefield in good time, arrayed with the sun in the back and awaited the Cimbri's onslaught.
Plutarchos quotes Sulla, who participated in the battle: "The Romans were favoured in the struggle, Sulla says, by the heat, and by the sun, which shone in the faces of the Cimbri. For the Barbarians were well able to endure cold and had been brought up in shady and chilly regions, as I have said. They were therefore undone by the heat; they sweated profusely, breathed with difficulty, and were forced to hold their shields before their faces. For the battle was fought after the summer solstice, which falls, by Roman reckoning, three days before the new moon of the month now called August but before Sextilis."
The Cimbrian women defending their wagon fort in the Battle of Vercelli 101 BC - by Heinrich Leutemann.
Florus suggests that Marius made a Cannae on the Cimbri: "There fell on the side of the enemy to the number of sixty thousand; on ours fewer than three hundred. The barbarians were slaughtered during an entire day. Marius had also assisted valour by artifice, in imitation of Hannibal and his stratagem at Cannae." However, Sulla wrote that Marius only rode aimlessly around in the edge of the battle.
It was very dry and the fighting quickly raised a huge cloud of dust that made the battle confusing for everyone. Orosius says: "The chiefs Lugius and Boiorix fell". The Cimbrians drew the short straw, and the survivors fled towards their wagon fort.
It is said that many of the women ran against the fleeing men showing them their naked breasts - to remind the men, what they fought for and make them continue the fight.
Plutarchos again expresses the Roman fascination of the Cimbrian women: "The women, in black garments, stood at the wagons and slew the fugitives - their husbands or brothers or fathers, then strangled their little children and cast them beneath the wheels of the wagons or the feet of the cattle, and then cut their own throats. It is said that one woman hung dangling from the tip of a wagon-pole, with her children tied to either ankle" - "Nevertheless, in spite of such self-destruction, more than sixty thousand were taken prisoners; and those who fell were said to have been twice that number."
Florus writes: "But the struggle with the enemies' wives was not less severe than that with themselves; for the women, being mounted on wagons and other carriages, which had been ranged around as a defence, fought from them, as from towers, with spears and pikes. The death of these savages was as glorious as their contest for victory; for when, upon sending an embassy to Marius, they failed to obtain their liberty, and sacerdotal protection, which it was not lawful to grant, they either fell, after strangling or braining the whole of their children, by mutual wounds, or hanged themselves, with ropes made of their own hair, upon tress and the yokes of their wagons."
Within the science of history, there are three great debate topics relating to the Cimbri and Teutons, and that is: How many were they? - Where did they come from? - Were they Celts or Germanic?
1) How many were they?
It can be established immediately that Plutarchos number around 300,000 is far way out. Likewise Publius Annius Florus, who states that 65,000 Cimbric fell by Vercellae, while the Romans lost less than 300 men. He is surpassed by Livius, who indicates that 140,000 Cimbri fell and 60,000 were taken prisoner.
The Romans were very aware of the value of propaganda, and facing the Senate and the Roman public they most likely had to give a reason, why so many Roman armies had been defeated by the barbarians, therefore systematically exaggerating the number of enemies.
Besides, Roman numbers are not suitable for calculations. The Romans were very bad in math. It is said that when they wanted to find out how many soldiers they had, they used a standard enclosure and, depending on how many times, they could fill it with soldiers, they estimated the size of the army.
The Cimbri and Teutons did not cultivate any land during their expedition in Europe, they "lived on the land", in the same way as the armies of the Thirty Years war did in Germany in the 1600's.
One must assume that a given agricultural area, at least in the past, was marginally populated depending on the nature of the soil and development of agricultural technology. Precisely so many people lived in a given area, as it could produce food for over the long term.
But then, how could a foreign army of many thousands of men come and "live on the land"? that they could do by depriving the local peasants of their storage, seeds and most important their animals. But at some point, everything in a given area had been eaten and then the army had to go on to a new area that not yet had been looted. This was, for example, the reason why the Swedish general Torstenson attacked Jylland in 1643; the whole of Germany had already been plundered, and he lacked food for his soldiers, so he eyed the Danish Jylland, which not yet had been robbed.
It is believed by military experts that before the emergence of railways an army in the field could not exceed 50,000 men for logistical reasons. Napoleon's Grande arms against Moscow in 1812 numbered 600,000 men, but the campaign did not work out so well. The Swedish armies in the Thirty Years War, which typically "lived on the land", numbered around 20-30,000 soldiers.
One must also assume that the ancient Roman agriculture was less productive than the 1600's agriculture, and thus could not support such large armies, which "lived on the land". Perhaps it is realistic to say that the ancient Roman Agriculture was half as efficient as the German agriculture of the 1600's.
Therefore, we must conclude that an army, which "lived on the land" in Roman times, could not be much bigger than about 10-15,000 persons.
But the Cimbri brought women and children, who also represented mouths to feed, but who in general did not take part in the fighting. It means that the number of armed men in a wandering Cimbric army must have been max. 5-6,000.
2) Where did they come from?
Many have doubted that such gigantic masses as Plutarchos' 300,000 could have come from such a limited area as Jylland. But as they really were not that many, it becomes also more likely that Cimbri actually came from Jutland.
Gudmund Schutte has analyzed the ancient writers:
1) Cimbri live on a peninsula - Strabo, Mela, Pliny.
2) A mighty bay extends east of the Cimbrian peninsula - Mela, Pliny.
3) The bay on the east of the Cimbrian peninsula contains several islands - Mela, Pliny.
4) Among island names is Skandia - Pliny.
5) The name Skandia is attributed to the largest of the islands; by Pliny, the largest island is called Scadinauia, by Mela Codanouia.
6) The Cimbri are neighboring the Charudes - Augustus.
7) The Charudes are neighboring the Fundusis - (Ptolemaeus).
8) The Cimbric area that was visited by the Roman fleet is located near the Semnones - Augustus, Vellejus.
9) The Cimbri live near the Teutons - Mela, Pliny.
10) The Teutons live at the Baltic Sea - Mela.
The ancient writers Ptolemy, Pompey Mela, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, say that Cimbri lived on a peninsula in the Northern Ocean, and east of this peninsula is a large bay with countless islands. Emperor Augustus confirms that one could sail to the land of the Cimbri from the mouth of the river Rhine. It can hardly be misunderstood, there can be no doubt that the Cimbri came from Jutland, probably North Jutland.
The homeland of the Teutons is a little more difficult. Pliny writes that they were neighbors of the Cimbri. Ptolemy writes they lived on the large island called Kodan-ouja in the Gulf of Codan, which points to the Scandinavian Peninsula or Sjaelland. Since the island is also said to be fertile, we must believe that it is Sjaelland, which is often described as a large and fertile island located in the middle of the ocean.
The name Ambrons has been linked to the island of Amrun in the Wadden Sea, which indicates that they came from the Frisian area. Clitarchus and others talk about the Cimbrian flood that forced the Cimbri to migrate. But a people by the Wadden Sea must have been even more exposed to a flood.
More than a thousand years after the events, Geoffrey of Monmouth indicates that Ambrons possibly came from Saxon territory, perhaps from the East Frisian Islands, which were probably much larger at the time.
3) Were they Celtic or Germanic?
By first glance it must be said that Southern Scandinavia was a predominantly Germanic territory. No archaeological finds have been made from the time before the Cimbri expedition, which suggests that a Celtic culture should have been present in parts of Jutland. There are no place names or handed down personal names that have any Celtic character. In fact, it is difficult to imagine that northern Jutland should have been a Celtic enclave in an otherwise extensive Germanic area.
It is stated that all the known Cimbri leaders had Celtic names such as Boiorix, Gaesorix and Lugius. Celtic was the international language of Central Europe, it was probably the language in which one communicated. The Cimbrians traveled around in the Celtic World for almost twenty years, so one would think that they had learned the language. Maybe it has been easier for others to remember their names if they were pronounced more Celtic, maybe they thought it was a bit more noble to have a Celtic-sounding name. It has probably also been difficult to hear the difference between Bojerik, Geiserik and Boiorix, Gaesorix, if there really was a difference.
Ptolemy wrote that the Teutons lived on a large island in the Gulf of Codan. As described in a later chapter in this story, it is quite possible that the island of Sjaelland at this time was still inhabited by the ancient Indo-European people, who in classic texts are called Heruls. A Roman relief depicting the Battle of Aquae Sextiae in the year 102 before Christ shows that Teutons and Ambrons went naked into battle, as Paulus Diaconus later tells that precisely the Heruls did. Which makes it probable that at least the Teutons were not a Germanic people, but also not Celts.
Plutarchos and most other writers give the impression that the huge number of Cimbri and Teutons were either cut down by the resolute legionnaires or subsequently captured and sold as slaves. They mention nothing about survivors from the battles, who may have escaped.
Spartacus' death in the battle of Petelia in Calabria 71 BC, which city today is called Strongoli - drawing by Hermann Vogel.
But in "The Illyrian Wars", which is part of "History of Rome", Appian tells that some Cimbri returned to Jutland: "- Being reduced to extreme weakness, and for that reason excluded from every land, they returned home, inflicting and suffering many injuries on the way."
In "The Gallic Wars" Appian tells how the Belgian Nervii tribe in 57 BC massacred Caesar's men including tribunes and centurions. It is explained by the note: "Nervii were descendants of the Cimbri and the Teutons."
When Caesar encouraged his men for an upcoming confrontation with the Germanic Suebi tribe under Ariovist, he said: "The Romans have met this enemy before. It was when the Cimbri and the Teutons were defeated by Gaius Marius, a victory that brought the army just as great honor as the commander of the army. We have also met this enemy under the slave uprising, in which the slaves had the benefit of that they had got a little Roman training and discipline."
The slave revolt was led by Spartacus in 73-71 BC. Evidently, Caesar thought that slaves of Cimbric and Teutonic origin constituted a large portion of Spartacus' army. Let us say that a Cimbric boy of 7 years old was captured in 101 BC at Vercelli and made a slave. He would have been 35 years old when Spartacus and his gladiators started the slave revolution.
Also, Orosius mentions that a great part of Spartacus' men came from Germania: "Crassus defeated the Gallic and German auxiliaries of Spartacus and slaughtered thirty thousand of them together with their leaders".
Celtic bronze cauldron found at Braa south of Horsens. It is decorated with bull motives. Only the upper part of the kettle is preserved, the rest is reconstructed to display the form and size. Its capacity is estimated to be 600 liters.
Nowhere in Europe has been made so many unique finds of Celtic origin as in Denmark. It is often explained by that they have been exchanged in peaceful trade, bride gifts, friendship gifts between nations and so on. But let's face it: The Cimbri and Teutons toured around the Celtic world for almost twenty years; their number was by all accounts about 20,000 each tribe. All of these women and children should have food, and then they could not be friends with everybody.
They must have defeated many small Celtic peoples and according to victor's law taken in possession their supplies, cattle and treasures. The ancient authors mention several times that the Cimbri and Teutons had gathered huge treasures. As Strabo wrote: "When the Helvetii, however, saw that all the wealth, which the Cimbri had got from their plunder, far exceeded their own wealth, they became so aroused by the thought that they went along together with the Cimbri." - or as Caesar and others tell: "Cimbri and the Teutons left their enormous booty at the Rhine, guarded by a garrison of 6,000 men."
Motives from the Celtic Rynkeby Cauldron found at Rynkeby on the island of Fyn. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.
Although most of Denmark was a Germanic heartland, nowhere have been found so many unique articles, which shed light on Celtic culture, as in Denmark. This can only be explained by that the surviving Cimbri, Teutons and Ambrones, few or many, returned home with magnificent Celtic wagons laden with treasures.
Remains of an almost vanished Celtic bronze kettle from Sophienborg Mose in North Sjælland. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.
The two carriages from Dejbjerg are not unique in Denmark. Remains of other elegant and
splendid carriages of Celtic origin have been found in several places in Jylland and on the island of Fyn. Pieces of that type of wagons have been found at Kraghede south of Brønderslev, Husby east of Flensburg, Langå on eastern Fyn, Fredbjerg west of Aars, Dankirke near Ribe and last Nedergården at Giver east of Aars. There can be no doubt that with these wagons the surviving Cimbri and Teutons have brought their booty back to Denmark.
Furthermore, not far from Præstemosen at Dejbjerg, in which the two first wagons were found, has been located a very large farm from the first centuries after Christ's birth, which one can imagine, has been the seat of the famous returning warrior and his descendants. In the grave at Kraghede have been found many pieces of weapons, tools and personal equipment, residues of at least two horses and two pigs, all of which shows that it was a warrior, who here had got a lavish departure on the pyre. The tomb at Husby contained, besides vehicle parts and harness of iron, a large bronze cauldron, manufactured in eastern Central Europe some hundred years before the birth of Christ. In the Langå-tomb was found, besides vehicle parts, a large Celtic bronze cauldron, which was used as urn, an Etruscan bronze bucket, golden finger rings, swords, shield boss and spearhead. In a warrior grave at Sonder Vilstrup near Kolding were, besides swords and knives, remains of a bronze vessel.
Top left: Celtic gold neck ring from Dronninglund in Vendsyssel.
Top right: Celtic bronze bucket from Kjeldby on the island of Møn.
Bottom: Handle bracket from a Celtic bronze kettle from warrior grave at Langå on southeast Fyn. - From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.
The Gundestrup cauldron is a Celtic bronze kettle which was probably made in Bulgaria
or Romania. The Mosbæk kettle is an Estruskisk bronze jar produced in Arretium north of Rome around 300 BC. At Braa south of Horsens has been found a great Celtic bronze kettle, more than one meter in diameter, decorated with bulls motives. In Illemosen at Rynkeby near Kerteminde has been found the remains of a Celtic bronze cauldron. At Kjeldby on the island of Møn has been found a nicely decorated Celtic bronze bucket or kettle. A distinguished neck ring of solid gold with large endbuds, found in Dronninglund bog in Vendsyssel, can be attributed to the area north of the Black Sea. In other warrior graves, Celtic and Roman swords have been found.
Sketch of decoration on urn from the Kraghede burial site in Vendsyssel from the last
century before Christ. It is very special since it shows humans and animals in lively movement. Ancient Danes clung to Neolithic geometric patterns very long. It is easy to imagine that the artist behind this decoration had been with the Cimbri on expedition among the Celts and seen such vibrant and dynamic expressions.
All this and more prove that some Cimbri and Teutons survived the defeats at Aquae Sextiae and Vercellae and that they came home laden with booty. They must have achieved an unprecedented status because of their enormous treasures, their unique military experience from two decades of constant warfare, and the general knowledge and new ideas that they must have brought home.
Precisely in the century before the birth of Christ, we can see that a certain inequality grew up. In the village of Hodde, one of the farms was much larger than the others. Close to Præstegårdsmosen near Dejbjerg was built a large farm. We can imagine that the returning veterans from the Cimbri expedition created the beginnings of the old Danish nobility because of their great wealth and the prestige and respect that they were surrounded with.
In Denmark, South Sweden, northern Germany, Holland, England and Ireland have been found many mummified corpses buried in bogs. Most are from the oldest Iron Age.
Left: The Tollund man's face - someone has caringly closed his eyes when he was laid down in the bog.
Right: The Tollund man as he is on display at Silkeborg Museum. He was about 168 cm tall; other male bog bodies have been 169-171 cm.
The most famous is the Tollund man, who was found by peat cutting in 1950 in a bog
at Bjældskovdal west of Silkeborg. He is famous because he is probably the most
well-preserved prehistoric man in the world. He was 30-40 years old when he died around 375-210 BC. There is no doubt about the cause of death, he was hanged, the rope is still on his neck. Someone had then caringly placed him in the bog in sleeping position and closed his eyes. He was naked except for a leather belt around his waist. His last meal has been a porridge of bird seeds from about 40 different wild plants.
Reconstruction of the Elling woman's hairstyling - by Jessica.
Many bog bodies have been naked. But it is a bit special that he still has a belt on.
Maybe his clothes were made of flax or nettles, which long since have been dissolved in the bog like other plant residues.
One can imagine that the Tollund man was a local chieftain, who gave his life to the gods to help his people. Maybe there was a famine, and it was, therefore, his last meal was so sparingly.
The Elling woman was found in 1937 only 80 meters from the Tollund man, also during peat cutting. Her face and front were badly damaged, but it was clear that her hair was arranged in a 80 cm. long braid, which was elaborately arranged.
She was dressed in a cloak of sheepskin, and a blanket of cowhide was wrapped around her legs. She was 25 years old when she died around 200 BC. Like the Tollund man, she had been hanged, but someone had caringly placed her in the bog and covered her legs with the cloak. Her long braid brings us to remind the Florus' description of the Cimbri womens' last stand: "they killed themselves - hung themselves with rope made of their own hair (braids) in trees and poles on their carts." Long braids must have been Cimbrian womens' favorite hairstyle.
Left: The Grauballe man as he is on display at Moesgaard Museum. Based on
the length of his thigh bone, he was 165-170 cm. tall.
Right: Reconstruction of the Grauballe man's face.
The Grauballe man was found in a bog at Grauballe north of Silkeborg. Like the Tollund man, he is famous because he is so exceptionally well preserved. He was about 30 years old when he died about 225 BC. The cause of death was probably that he got his throat cut from ear to ear. Most archeologists assume that he has been killed and deposited in the bog as a sacrifice to the gods. Like the Tollund man, he was naked; one can imagine that he might have worn clothes made from plant materials, for example flax or nettles, which has since disintegrated. His last meal was a porridge comprising of least 55 different kinds of weed seeds, though added some animal fats, maybe the porridge had been cooked on a single bone. His hands and nails were well groomed and showed no sign of hard work; He has not been a common peasant or slave. His bones show signs of having starved when he was 3-4 years of age.
Left: The Huldremose woman's dress as it appears today. Humus acid in the bog has
colored everything brown - from www.pinterest.com.
Right: Reconstruction of The Huldremose woman's dress near the original colors - Drawing by Thomas Bredsdorff.
As almost all bog bodies, the Huldremose woman was found by peat cutting, it happened in
1879 in Huldremosen near Ramten west of Grenå. She was 40 years old when she
died around the year of birth of Christ. The cause of death was strangulation. Her last meal was rye bread. What is special about the Huldremose woman is her very well preserved garment; a comb and a headband were also found on her, indicating that she was caringly
placed in the bog and not just tossed in a hole.
She was wearing a cloak, a scarf and a skirt, all made from wool. It has been demonstrated that the cloak has been colored red, and the skirt blue, both with woven checkered patterns. Moreover, there are traces of underwear, made of plant fibers, perhaps flax or nettle although the greater part has now disappeared. It is obvious that with such an exclusive robe she must have belonged the to the upper layer of society.
Storslået arkæologisk fund er blandt årets vigtigste Videnskab.dk.
Den Hellige Mose Den Store Danske.
The Geography of Strabo Strabo Geography.
The Parallel Lives by Plutarch The Life of Marius
Pliny's Natural history Internet Archieve.
Appian - Chapter I Illyrian wars - First Contact with the Romans.
Epitome of Roman History by Florus Book 1 Wikisource.
Orosius Book 5 The fifth book.
The Cimbri of Denmark David K. Faux.
Total War Center Cimbri and a rebuttal to David Faux.
Total War Center Cimbri and a rebuttal to David Faux part 2.
Noter om moseligene
Bodies of the Bogs Archaeology - A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America.
Huldremosekvindens vilde vej til Nationalmuseet Videnskab.dk
Arthurian Passages from The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth - Delvis historie og delvis fiction.
"Da våbnene tav - Hjortspringfundet og dets betydning" af Flemming Kaul - Arnold Busck.
"Danmarks Oldtid - Tredie bind - Jernalderen" af Johannes Brøndsted - Gyldendal.
"Gyldendal og Politikkens Danmarks Historie 1"
"Gyldendal og Politikkens Danmarks Historie 2" - Indeholder en grundig gennemgang af landbruget i jernalderen.
"De etnografiske kilder til Nordens Historie" Allan A. Lund - Wormanium.
"Mumificerede moselig" Allan A. Lund - Høst og Søn.
"Nordens Barbarer" Allan A. Lund.
"Gundstrupkedlen" Flemming Kaul - Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck.
"Kimbrerne" Jens Bråten. - Jens Bråtens Forlag.