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Denmark's History

10. Pre-Roman Iron Age

During the Iron Age, Denmark's population increased and ever larger areas were used for arable farming and cattle breeding. Iron Age villages were larger than Bronze Age villages. The climate became wetter and colder. The Hjortspringboat represents a major advance in shipbuilding technology. The greatest historical event was the great and infamous expedition of the Cimbri and Teutons down into Europe, which the Romans only narrowly repulsed. They had many victories, but suffered defeats on the battlefields of Aquae Sextiae and Vercellae. But the discovery of so many Celtic splendours of bronze and the distinguished carriages of the celtic Dejbjerg type in Denmark proves that they came home, laden with riches.

1. Iron from bog iron ore

Timeline from Neolitic to historical time..

The oldest part of the Iron Age was formerly called the Celtic Iron Age because it occurred at the same time that the Celts and Celtic culture dominated in central Europe. But now it has become more common to call the period the Pre-Roman Iron Age, because the name "Celtic Iron Age" can evoke erroneous associations to the effect that a Celtic culture prevailed in Denmark 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. 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.

Bog iron ore

A piece of bog iron ore that Vagn F. Buchwald from Danish Geological Society has found in his garden in Skanderborg.

Iron production in ancient times has traditionally been localized in Jutland, and it is tempting to believe that the Iron Age began in Jutland.
Bronze Age's end and start of the Pre-Roman 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.

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.

Iron Age village at Hvolris near Viborg in December

Iron Age village at Hvolris near Viborg in December 2010. A group history interested inhabited the houses in December. Photo: Niels-Christian Jönsson.

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.

In many ways 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 occurrence of bog iron ore in Denmark according to Danmarks Geologiske Undersøgelser.

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.

2. Geography and climate

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.

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.

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 Pre-Roman Iron Age.

The West Coast in the past illustrated by Claus Deleuran

Sailing in sheltered waters illustrated by Claus Deluran in Danmarks-Historie for Folket.

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.

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.

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.

Holmsland Klit as an island

Section of map from 1658, which shows Holmsland Klit as an island named Numet.

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.".

Excavation of Iron Age house at Klegod on Holmsland Klit. Foto Jens Aarup Jensen 1973.

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 Pre-Roman 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.

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.

Cut in a peat-bog, which shows dark and light horizontal sections

Cut in a peat-bog, which shows dark and light horizontal sections, which represents respectively cold/humid and hot/dry periods..

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.

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.

Iron Age fields on Astrup Hede at Giver in West Himmerland - Framed by low ridges, as they were left by Iron Age peasants. Foto "Danmarks Oldtid 3" by Johannes Brøndsted.

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."

Typical Iron Age fields found south of the former Ullits station - at Limfjorden north of Viborg. They are characterized by that they are divided into square fields, rarely more than 2,000 m2. Their small size suggests that each field was cultivated by a single farmer. They are found over large parts of Europe and are called "Celtic Fields". Photo Hat 1949.

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.

Ground plan of a typical Iron Age house - The stable for housing the cattle in the winter are clearly visible. The stable always faces east. The two rows of posts show the typical three-aisled construction. Photo Hans Jensen Danish Wikipedia.

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.

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..

Pytheas in front of the Stock Exchange in Marseille

Statue of Pytheas in front of the stock exchange in Marseille made by Auguste Ottin. Photo Rvalette Wikipedia.

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 Germania, inhabit the shores of an estuary of the Ocean called Mentonomon, their territory extending a distance of six thousand stadia; (1.100 kilometer) one day's sailing from this territory is the Isle of Abalus, upon the shores of which, amber is thrown up by the waves in spring, 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."

As he mentions the "Gutons", who from the name we must believe were the ancestors of the Goths, the estuary referred to must have been the Danish straits. But the mouth of the Elbe or the Rhine cannot be ruled out, in which case the mysterious island, Abalus, has been Heligoland, which was then much larger than it is today, 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' travels - There are many opinions about his route. From "Off the Beaten Track in the Classics" by Carl Kaeppel..

The uncertainty is largely due to the fact that Pytheas' own account of his travels has been lost; it is only found as fragments in other ancient authors, it is mainly Strabo's "Geographica", Pliny the Elder's "Naturalis Historia" and passages in Diodorus of Sicily's "Historia". The fact is that many of Pytheas' contemporaries did not believe that he had made such a journey.

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 Oönö are said to exist"

We think at first sight that these names must be Latin, but in the names Amalchian, Morimarusa and Cronian we may recognize an original Proto-Indo-European language which is reminiscent of Latin, as the first two clearly mean something congealed or frozen, and mori - probably means something with death, and -mar- something with sea. Oönæ clearly means islands, perhaps in Gothic. "The coastal mountain Rubeas" makes us think of Rubjerg Knude.

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".

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."

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.

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" (1,100 km). From Wikipedia.

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. Photo Lexundria.

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."

3. Society

The Iron Age was a period of prosperity in Denmark, the population increased and ever larger areas were used for arable farming and cattle breeding. Several pollen analyzes indicate a heavily exploited, treeless landscape. It has been estimated that around 400,000 people lived in Denmark in the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

Reconstruction of a farmhouse from Pre-Roman Iron Age. Photo: Mikael Holdgaard Nielsen.

I Vestjylland kendes der i hundredvis af bopladser fra ældre Jernalder – som utvivlsomt også må have eksisteret i resten af landet. De ligger med 1-2 km’s afstand og ofte ved ådalene, hvor der var god græsning.

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.

Postholes from the Iron Age village - although from the later Iron Age - at Langhusvej in Jelling, which were excavated in 2016-2017 by Vejle Museerne. They found more than 20,000 post holes on the five-hectare area, where a new district is currently being built. It is easy to see that it takes considerable intellectual work and talent for pattern recognition to find how many houses existed at a given time. Photo Vild med Jelling i Jernalderen.

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 Pre-Roman Iron Age, but the distance between top and bottom was in all likelihood not as great as in the previous period. From the Pre-Roman Iron Age, there is in general no trace of great men's show of their power and wealth in form of large tombs.

Ground plan for the village of Grøntoft in its last year. Grøntoft existed from around 450 to 150 BC. For most of the period it comprised of 12-20 buildings and accommodated around 50 people and 70-80 animals

As something new in archaeology, a village from the early Iron Age, named Grøntoft, at Nørre Omme northeast of Ringkøbing, was excavated using machine power in the 1960s. The top layer of the field was scraped off by machines, thereby uncovering a quantity of post holes from around 250 Iron Age houses.

However, this does not mean that the village consisted of 250 houses, as wooden houses with buried posts only have a limited lifespan, perhaps 50-80 years. After some time a house was probably burned down and a new one was built some distance away. But the post holes from the old house remain.

Tværsnit og grundplan af bronzealderhus ved Spjald Tværsnit og grundplan af jernalderhus i Grøntoft

Left: Assumed cross section and floor plan of a 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. - Photo: Partly from Gyldendal's and Politiken's History of Denmark.

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 around 450 to 150 BC. During these 300 years, at least 400 houses were built, it is said. But it has been concluded that in the village's last years it consisted of eight farms, as well as four other houses, all surrounded by a common fence. For most of the period, it comprised 12-20 buildings, where there was room for about 50 people and 70-80 animals.

Like all Iron Age houses, the buildings were oriented east-west. One of the long sides has thereby turned to the south, so that there has occasionally been shelter and sunshine in front of the house.

The farms in the early Iron Age were roughly the same size and the village gives the impression that a rather close community has existed.

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 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.

Aerial view of the Borremose fortress The paved access road to the Borremose fortress

Left: Aerial view of the Borremose fortress - Photo Vesthimmerlands Museum.
Right: The paved access road to the Borremose fortress. - Photo Wikipedia.

The Iron Age people dug a 4 m wide and 1.5 m deep moat around the islet. The excavated material was thrown up into a defensive rampart, perhaps lined with wood, as was common in Europe at this time. The moat was about 450 m long. At the bottom of the moat thousands of pointed oak sticks were stuck to prepare an unpleasant surprise for possible enemies who would try to wade through the moat - a kind of Iron Age barbed wire that has been found in many places.

The paved road that leads into the Borremose fortress photographed during the excavation in 1939. It can be seen that there was an older road which has been covered by a newer road. Photo: G. Kunwald. in the magasin "Vejhistorie" nr. 37 2021.

A village with 14-15 buildings was built within the ramparts. In the north-west corner of the village there was a water hole, which ensured the residents' water supply during a possible siege. A paved road connected the fortress with the surrounding dry land.

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.

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.

The Borremose fortress was not the only one of its kind in the Pre-Roman Iron Age. In 1977, the completely leveled Lyngmose fortress was discovered from the air northeast of Ringkøbing. But it was not until 1999-2002 that the site was investigated, and it was found that a fortified village had been located here in the pre-Roman Iron Age, around 100 years BC.
The investigations, which were carried out by the Ringkøbing Museum and the University of Copenhagen, showed that within an area the size of a football field there had been a small village with 15 longhouses and two smaller houses. It was surrounded by a rampart and a moat.
The bottom of the moat has been densely studded with pointed wooden sticks. On the left aerial photo from 1977, in the middle overview plan and on the right graphic reconstruction by Sune Elskær. Photo Lyngmose fortress and Hover Ådal Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality.

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.

Reconstruction of the Iron Age village of Hodde, which was located between Varde and Grindsted. As can be seen, Hodde was somewhat larger than Grøntoft. At its greatest extent it included 22 farms, blacksmiths and potters workshops. Photo Lennart Larsen Danmark Nationalmuseet Wikipedia.

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 Hedegaard near Brande have been excavated similar but slightly different villages from the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

Old sunken road at Ajstrup

Old sunken road at Ajstrup near Hadsund. Photo Nordjyske.

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 pre-roman iron age.

4. Weapons, ships and tools

In early Pre-Roman 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 - From 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.

A selection of iron swords found in Hjortspring Mose. Number three from above is a wooden scabbard for the sword above. As can be seen, there was great variety and creativity in the armament. The top sword had a long handle like a two handed sword. Number two was a fairly normal sheathed sword, while the lower one was short and compact. Only 8 swords were found, it has not been a common weapon. They were all monoecious. There is no trace of the elegant bronze swords of the Bronze Age. Photo Danmark i Oldtiden by Johnnes Brøndsted.

Many parts of the famous Hjortspringbåd and the weapons were discovered during peat digging around 1880, without it coming to the knowledge of archaeologists. The spear points were a great nuisance to the peat diggers, who often wounded themselves on them.

Only in 1920 was the find known to the National Museum. In 1921-22, conservator Gustav Rosenberg carried out a total survey of the small Hjortspring Mose, which is only 45*50 meters and lies 3-4 kilometers from the coast.

It has been shown that sacred bogs from the Iron Age are actually often quite small.

A selection of iron and deer antler spearheads found in Hjortspring Mose during the excavation. As seen, they are very different, really creative and experimental. The first one on the left is very large, almost a lance with a small sword at the tip, number two is completely different, small slim and pointed, and number three is broad-bladed. The last spearhead on the far right is made of deer antler. They all have a piece of the shaft preserved. Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

The most famous find in the bog is the Hjortspring Boat, which is an elegant plank-built war canoe that seems to bear a strong resemblance to ships from the Bronze Age depicted in the petroglyphs.

In addition, the local residents sacrificed all the weapons, oars and other equipment of the slain enemies to the gods by laying them in the bog.

The Roman writer Orosius tells of a similar sacrifice after the Cimbri and Teutons had defeated the Romans in southern France in 105 BC. - only a few hundred years after the Battle at 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."

In Danish bogs, many similar sacrifices to the gods have been found as thanks for victories. It is characteristic that the sacrificed weapons and objects have been systematically destroyed before they were buried in the bog.

Such destruction can also be demonstrated in the finds from Hjortspring. About a dozen chainmails have been torn and spearheads have been bent.

Despite the large number of spearheads and shields found, only one ship has been found in Hjortspring Mose, which could carry around 22-24 men, so one can imagine that a number of attackers escaped on the rest of the ships. Perhaps Als was attacked one early morning by an army of well over 100 men - possibly on four ships.

Two of the 150 shields found in Hjortspring Mose. As can be seen, they bear an unmistakable resemblance to shields from Celtic finds down in Europe. The shape is generally square to oval. However, the foreign shields are reinforced with iron bands, which is not the case with the shields from Hjortspring. In the center is a handle and a shield bulge to protect the hand. All shield bumps were wooden, although iron would have been more appropriate for this purpose. There seems to have been a scarcity of iron. A total of 150 shields were found, whole or remnants of such, predominantly of alder, linden or birch. Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

The spear was by far the most important weapon of the time. It can be calculated that each warrior was armed with two or three of these. Only a very few had a sword. No arrowheads were found in the bog. No battle axes have been found from the entire Pre-Roman Iron Age. All warriors seem to have had a square somewhat oval wooden shield with a handle in the center protected by a shield bulge. Between ten and twenty of the attackers wore chain mail.

Everywhere in contemporary Europe, both with Germans, Greeks and Etruscans, the spear was the weapon of choice, only among the Celts was it pushed a bit into the background in favor of the sword.

Shields from Hjortspring Mose on display at Denmark's National Museum in Copenhagen. Photo Paul Hansen MyArmoury.

In Hjortspring Mose, 169 spear points were found, and it is known that there must have been more, as there are reports of many spear points found during previous peat digging. The 138 spearheads are of iron, while the 31 are of bone or antler. They are of very variable size and shape. The longest is 43.5 cm. long, while the shortest is only 5 cm. long; most are between ten and twenty cm. long. The iron points have been secured with a nail of iron or bronze through the spear shaft. ?

Spydspidserne af ben er oftest fremstillet af skinnebens-knogler fra får eller ged. De var skæftet i rørknoglens hulhed og sikret med nagler af ben eller træ. En skrå afskæring frembragte en skarp spids i knoglens sidevæg. De er smukt polerede og ofte udsmykket med koncentriske mønstre. Alle spydskafter var af ask.

Hjortspring Bådens Laug er en gruppe historie-interesserede på Als, som har bygget en målfast rekonstruktion af Hjortspring båden. Her ses den i friskt vejr i farvandet ud for Als.

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. Photo Lennart Larsen Nationalmuseet Wikipedia.

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 cross-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 objects, which were sacrificed in Hjortspring Mose together with ship and weapons. It must be things that the attackers brought with them.
a Wooden disc - perhaps for cutting meat, b Wooden bellows pipe, c Wooden club, d Carved round wooden disc, e Turned wooden can, f Turned wooden can, g Ladle carved from wood, h Wooden spoon - perhaps for porridge, i Bronze button, j Bronze pin, k Flat turned wooden bowl - a plate. 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 Moderupgaard south of Bogense are also found bone-spearheads, which are roughly contemporary with the Hjortspring finding.

In Kildebæk Mose south of Fredrikssund, 13 well-preserved bone spearheads have been found.

Bone spearheads have also been found at Moderupgård south of Bogense, which are roughly contemporary with the Hjortspring find.

5. Religion

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.

Begravelses plads fra førromersk jernalder ved Årupgård nær Haderslev

Plan of burial place from Celtic Iron Age at Årupgaard 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. Drawing E. Jørgensen, Haderslev Museum 1975.

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".

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 burials.

Excavation of burial site under flat ground at Sepstrup near Aarhus - From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

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.

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.

Aerial view of tue-grave site at Årre near Varde during excavation - Photo Varde Museum.

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.

Urn grave

Urn grave from the burial site at Årre near Esbjerg and Varde - Varde Museum.

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.

Burned spot grave at Storup on the island of Mors. The digging spoon gives an idea of the size. Excavated by Mors Arkæologisk Forening.

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."

Urn burned pit

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.

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, a number of small bronze items have been found, mostly suit pins, jewellery, arm and neck rings, which have quite obviously been sacrificed to the gods, who lived in the water of the bogs, perhaps by very ordinary people who wanted a solution to their personal problems.

Bracelets and necklaces of bronze from the small Smederup Mose near Odder. From Damarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

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.

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.

Small well of wood found in Smederup Mose

Small well of wood found in Smederup Mose. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

It is easy to imagine that these are objects made specifically with sacrifice in mind.

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.

Neck rings found at Røjle near Middelfart. A typical example of the rings, which by the hundreds were sacrificed in the bogs. Foto Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

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.

When you visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy, there is a tradition of throwing a coin into the water over your shoulder. It is said that a coin thus thrown into the fountain ensures that the thrower will return to Rome.

Old wishing well at Malmøhus in Malmø. Foto My Opera.

This tradition also goes back to the ancient Romans, who often threw coins into the water to get the water gods to favor their journey or help them get home safely. ?

But in Scandinavia we have had our wishing wells for many hundreds of years. It is customary that if you throw an offering, perhaps a coin, into the water in special places at the same time as you wish, you can get the attention of the gods.

6. The Cimbri's and Teutons' great and infamous expedition in Europe

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. Photo Stätten Antiker Hochkulturen.

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, including Clitarchus, the Cimbri in their homeland in Jutland were exposed to the Cymbric Flood, and this forced them to leave. However, Strabo did not believe that the flood was the real cause of the exodus; After all, ebb and flow occur daily in these regions, he argued. As you know, there is very little tide in his native Mediterranean.

The blindfolded windeby girl. Found at Vindeby near Egernførde west of Slesvig. She is on display in Gottorp Castle. Foto Pin von Marina auf Schleswig Holstein Moorleiche, Schleswig, Museum Pinterest.

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.

It is likely that the Iron Age people now and then experinced periods with starvation.

Burned supply cellar at Overbygård

Burned supply cellar from the Celtic Iron Age found at Overbygaard in the southern Vendsyssel. The cellar contained a supply of weed seeds in separate pots. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

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 Pre-Roman 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.

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 Overbygaard 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.

The Borremose fortress. There is much evidence that a significant emigration really took place around 100 BC. The Borremose fortress was systematically destroyed and abandoned precisely around 100 BC. The burials at the burial ground at Årupgård east of Ribe also ceased around 100 BC. The village of Grøntoft ceased to exist around 150 BC. On the Jutland moors there are still remains of Iron Age fields enclosed by low ramparts; they were simply abandoned by their farmers towards the end of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. Photo Martin8381 Wikipedia

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.

Cimbri are heading out. Foto Youtube.

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. Foto Youtube.

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.

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 "resurrection bath". Photo Wikipedia.

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 Caepio, 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 to death, and his properties were confiscated."

Cimbric comb

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. Photo Wikipedia.

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.

A preserved Cimbric skull. Archaeologists in Hungary is said to store more than 10,000 skulls from various migratory peoples. Photo Wikipedia.

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."

Vægmaleri fra Pompeji

Baker and Councilman Paquius Proculus and his wife. Wall Mural from Pompeii from around 50 AD. Photo Eloquence Wikipedia.

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.

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.

The battle of 102 BC at the then Aquae Sextiae, which was located near the city of Aix-en-Provence north of Marseille. A Roman army under Gaius Marius finally defeated the Teutons and Ambrones. Drawing by John Harris Valda in Hutchinson's History of the Nations, 1915.

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. Unfortunately unknown artist.

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. Photo Weltgeschichte 1899.

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 Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - Metropolitan Museum of Art Wikipedia.

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."

7. Analysis of quantity, origin and ethnicity

Within historical research, there are three major topics of debate regarding the Cimbri, the Teutons and the Ambrones, and that is: How many were there? - Where did they come from? - Were they Celts, Germans or something entirely else?

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.

Ptolemy Denmark map. The Greek geographer Ptolemy (around 100 AD) described that the Cimbrian Peninsula was inhabited by different tribes. Gudmund Schütte has, supported by previous researchers, interpreted some of Ptolemy's names: "Kimbrike Chersonesos is the Kimbric Peninsula, i.e. Jutland. Kimbroi are the Cimbri, where the name can be recognized in the name Himmerland. Charudes are Hard-people, who are attached to Hard Syssel. Siggulones denotes the tribe Segger or Sygger, which appears in Old English epic poetry, where it is mentioned that they live next to Saxones in Old Saxony. Sabbaligoi are Salling residents attached to Salling Syssel. Lakkobardoi are the Langobards or simply the Bards around the current Bardengau. Burition are Burgundians who lived just south of Burgunda Holm, which is the old name for Bornholm. Virunoi are the medieval Varnabers at the river Varnow, which flows out at Warnemunde" - It is noticeable that the Danes not mentioned at all.
Furthermore, Poponius Mela wrote in Chorografi III,31 :"Across the Elbe is the mighty bay of Kodan, filled with large and small islands - In it are the Cimbri and Teotons and beyond it the Ermines, the outermost people of Germania". Furthermore, in V,54 "In the bay of Kodan is the island of Kodan-ouja, on which the Teutons still live, it surpasses the other islands in both fertility and size" Photo Nomos.

Gudmund Schütte has further systematically analyzed the ancient authors:

   1) The Cimbri live on a peninsula - Strabo, Mela, Pliny.
   2) To the east of the Cimbrian peninsula stretches a mighty gulf - Mela, Pliny.
   3) The bay east of the Cimbrian peninsula contains several islands - Mela, Plinius.
   4) Among the island names is Skandia - Plinius.
   5) The name Skandia is given to the largest of the islands; in Pliny the largest island is        called Scadineauia, at Mela Codanouia.
   6) The Cimbri are neighbors of the Charudes - Augustus.
   7) The Charuds are neighbors of the Fundusians - Ptolemaeus.
   8) The Cimbrian area 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 on an island in the Gulf of Codan - Mela.

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.

The term "Teutons" was widely used in the Middle Ages a thousand and a half years later for actual Germans as opposed to Slavic peoples and Lithuanians. The Crusaders in the Teutonic Order were called the Teutonic Knights in English.

3) Were they Celtic or Germanic?
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 and no handed down personal names that have any Celtic character.

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.

The distinction between Germans and Celts can be traced back to Caesar and Tacitus. and it is undoubtedly relevant, in the sense that there were really at least two different people groups with different languages and customs.

Caesar believed that the Cimbri and the Teutons were Germanic peoples. When he talked to his troops before an upcoming confrontation with the Germanic Suebi tribe under Ariovistus, he said: "The Romans have met this enemy before. It was then when the Cimbri and Teutons were defeated by Gaius Marius, a victory which brought the army as great an honor as the general.This enemy had also been encountered during the slave revolt, when the slaves had the benefit of having received some Roman training and discipline."

But such a rough division into only two tribes is too simple. It is difficult to ignore the accounts of the classical Roman authors for the names of islands and seas in the northern ocean, which do not sound Germanic, but more like Latin, and are expressions in "the natives" own language", such as Codan, Codanus, Lagnus, Mori Marusa, Amalchium and so on.

It is also noteworthy that during the later period of migration Heruls lived in several places in Europe, both in north and south, in Scandinavia and on the Black Sea coast in present-day Ukraine and Romania, and they were apparently neither Germans nor Celts. They may have been an originally Indo-European people with a language similar to Latin. Most likely they gave the Romanians their Romance language, different from their Slavic neighbours, and not the country's very short time as a Roman province.

Ptolemy wrote that the Teutons lived on a large island in the Gulf of Codan. As described in other chapters of this history, it is quite possible that the island of Zealand was still for a long time inhabited by descendants of the people, who are called Heruls in the texts of the migration period.

8. The homecoming

Most historians leave the Cimbri and Teutons on the battlefields of Vercelli and Aquae Sextiae without dealing with their further fate.

Celtic bronze cauldron found at Braa south of Horsens. It is decorated with bull motifs. It is more than a meter in diameter. Only the upper part of the cauldron is preserved, the rest has been reconstructed to show shape and size. Its capacity is estimated at 600 liters. Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

Plutarch and most other classical writers describe that the vast number of Cimbri and Teutons were either cut down by the determined legionnaires or were captured and sold as slaves. They mention nothing about survivors of the battles who may have escaped.

Only Appian suggests that a part of the Cimbri survived the massacre, writing in "The Illyrian Wars," which is part of his "History of Rome," of the Cimbri: - being reduced to extreme weakness, and therefore excluded from all countries, returned home, inflicting on others and themselves receiving many injuries on the way."

The Gundestrup cauldron is a typical Celtic work. It was found in 1891 in the peat bog Rævemose near Gundestrup east of Aars in Vesthimmerland. The vessel is made of 13 silver plates, which are hammered and gilded. The weight is barely 9 kg. On the outside are motifs of large deities accompanied by small people, animals and mythical creatures in pairs. The inner side shows scenes populated with many figures, both humans and animals. One of them shows a parade of warriors carrying a carnyx, a Celtic trumpet. The Gundestrup boiler is probably manufactured in Bulgaria or Romania. Photo Rosemania Wikipedia

But the amount of unique Celtic objects from this time, which have been found in Denmark, clearly shows that they came home - driving magnificent Celtic chariots laden with riches.

Denmark is not known to have had a Celtic culture, but nowhere in Europe have so many unique finds of Celtic origin been made as in Denmark.

A Dejbjerg wagon on display at the National Museum

A Dejbjerg wagon on display at the National Museum. The Dejbjerg wagons are two wooden wagons with ornamented bronze fittings from the Iron Age, which were found in 1881 and 1883 during peat digging in Dejbjerg Præstegårdsmose near Ringkøbing. The iron for the wagon bodies is from mountain ore from Central Europe and they were probably made by Celtic craftsmen. The rim bands have been repaired in Denmark with iron from Danish bog ore. Photo Simon Burchell Wikipedia.

Shortly before the birth of Christ, two wagons were sacrificed to the gods in the bog Præstemosen near Dejbjerg. They were separated and laid in a peat pit fenced with branches and wickerwork. The iron in the wagon is forged from Central European mountain ore, and the wagons were probably made in Central Europe by Celtic craftsmen.

Recent archaeological investigations have shown that the Dejbjerg wagons were several hundred years old, when they were sacrificed in the bog in the late Pre-Roman Iron Age.

It is thought-provoking that the Celtic thunder god Taranis is depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron with a wheel that resembles the wheels on the Dejbjerg wagons.

Typisk Keltisk detalje fra en Dejbjerg vogn

Typical Celtic detail from a Dejbjerg wagon. Photo Nationalmuseet, John Lee Wikipedia.

The Dejbjerg wagons are considered the best preserved Celtic wagons from the European Iron Age. They are made in typical Celtic style, magnificently decorated with bronze fittings, which depict faces among other things. The construction of the two Dejbjerg wagons is the same, but one are slightly larger than the other, and there is a difference in the decoration of the fittings.

The two wagons from Dejbjerg are not unique in Denmark. Remains of other elegant and magnificent chariots of Celtic origin have been found in several places in Jutland and on Funen. These are Trompgård near Hjørring, Kraghede south of Brønderslev, Nedergården in Giver east of Aars, Fredbjerg west of Aars, Dankirke near Ribe, Husby east of Flensborg, Langå on East Fyn. There can be little doubt that the returning Cimbri and Teutons brought their booty back to Denmark on these wagons.

In a field near Giver near Aars in Himmerland, Anders Holm Kristensen found parts with his metal detector in 2013, which turned out to be nail heads with inlaid red enamel from a similar magnificent carriage as the Dejbjerg carriages. Its Celtic decoration reveals that it originated somewhere just north of the Alps.

Vendsyssel Historical Museum during excavation of a recently found Dejbjerg wagon. Detector operator Louise Stahlschmidt contacted the museum with some strange melted bronze that she had found at Trompgård between Bjergby and Mygdal near Hjørring. The lumps turned out to be the characteristic rivet heads from a Dejbjerg wagon.
So far, seven Dejbjerg wagons have been found in addition to the original two from Dejbjerg. Photo Vendsyssel Historiske Museum.

Excavations carried out by Vest Himmerlands Museum in collaboration with Thy-Mors Detektorforening uncovered several hundred more parts of the carriage.

The Cimbri must have defeated many small Celtic peoples and according to victor's law taken in possession their supplies, cattle and treasures.

Facial motif from a Celtic bronze cauldron found at Rynkeby on Funen. Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted

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."

Animal motif from Celtic bronze cauldron found in Illemosen near Rynkeby near Kerteminde on Funen. Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

Furthermore, not far from the bog 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.

Remains of an almost vanished Celtic bronze kettle from Sophienborg Mose in North Sjælland. From Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

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 Sønder Vilstrup near Kolding were, besides swords and knives, remains of a bronze vessel.

Celtic bronze bucket from Kjeldby on the island of Møn.

A finely decorated Celtic bronze bucket or kettle has been found at Kjeldby on Møn. Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

In Illemosen near Rynkeby near Kerteminde, the remains of a Celtic bronze cauldron were found. A finely decorated Celtic bronze bucket or kettle has been found at Kjeldby on Møn.

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.

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.

Left: Neckecklace of solid gold of celtic origin from Dronninglund in Vendsyssel. Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted

Right: Handlebracket from a Celtic bronze kettle from warrior grave at Langå on southeast Fyn - Photo Danmarks Oldtid by Johannes Brøndsted.

Precisely in the century before the birth of Christ, we can see that a certain inequality is emerging. In the village of Hodde, one of the farms was much larger than the others. A large farm was built near Præstegårdsmosen in Dejbjerg. We can imagine that the returning veterans from the Cimbri expedition created the germ of a Danish nobility because of their great wealth, experience and the prestige and respect with which they were surrounded.

9. Bog bodies

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.

The Tollund man, as he was found in Tollund west of Silkeborg still with the rope around his neck with which he was strangled or hanged. Someone has carefully closed his eyes, when he was laid down in the bog. He is Silkeborg Museum's main attraction. Photo Mummipedia Wiki.

The most famous bog body is the Tollund man, which was found during peat digging in 1950 in a bog at Bjældskovdal west of Silkeborg.

He is famous because he is probably the most well-preserved ancient human in the world. He was 30-40 years old when he died around 375-210 BC. He was about 168 cm tall; other male bog bodies are determined to be 169-171 cm. There is no doubt about the cause of death, he was hanged, the rope is still around his neck. Someone had then carefully placed him in the bog in a sleeping position and closed his eyes. He was naked when he was found except for a leather belt around his waist. Perhaps his clothes had disintegrated after more than two thousand years in the bog.

His last meal has been a porridge of weedseed from about 40 different wild plants.

Many bog bodies have been naked. But it is a bit special that the Tollund man wears a waist belt. Perhaps his clothes were made of flax or nettles, which have long since dissolved into the bog like other plant remains.

Reconstruction of the Elling woman's hairstyling - by Jessica.

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 is special because of her very elaborate hairstyle.

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.

Hun var klædt i en kappe af fåreskind, og et tæppe af oksehud var viklet omkring hendes ben. Hun var 25 år da hun døde omkring 200 f.Kr. I lighed med Tollund manden var hun blevet hængt, men nogen havde omsorgsfuldt placeret hende i mosen og dækket hendes ben med kappen.

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 blanket.

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 wagons." Long braids must have been Cimbrian womens' favorite hairstyle.

The Grauballe man as he is exhibited at the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus. Judging from the length of his femur, he was 165-170 cm tall. Photo Atlas Obscura.

The Grauballe man was found in 1952 during peat digging in Nebelgaard Mose, two kilometers from Grauballe west of Aarhus.

Like the Tollund man, he is famous because he is so exceptionally well preserved.

He was about 30 years old, when he died approximately 225 BC. The cause of death was with overwhelming probability that his throat was cut from ear to ear. Most people assume that he was killed and buried 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 vegetable materials, such as flax or nettles, which have 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 are well groomed and show 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.

The Huldremose woman's dress as it appears today Reconstruction of The Huldremose woman's dress near the original colors

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.

The Huldremos woman is special because of her very advanced and perfectly produced clothing.

Like almost all bog bodies, the Huldremose woman was found during peat digging, it happened in 1879 in the Huldremose near Ramten west of Grenå. She was more than 40 years old, when she died around the birth of Christ. Her left femur has been broken and has grown together crookedly, so she must have limped.

The cause of death was strangulation. Her last meal was rye bread. A comb and a headband were 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.

10. Literature

Storslået arkæologisk fund er blandt årets vigtigste Videnskab.dk.
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.
Total War Center Cimbri and a rebuttal to David Faux part 2.
Cimbri Wikipedia.
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.
Vejhistorie Tidsskrift fra Dansk Vejhistorisk Selskab nr. 37 2021.
Ny unik udgravning øst for Hjørring fra omkring år 0 Vendsyssel Historiske Museum.
"Da våbnene tav - Hjortspringfundet og dets betydning" af Flemming Kaul - Arnold Busck.
"Danmarks Oldtid - Tredie bind - Jernalderen" af Johannes Brøndsted - Gyldendal.
"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.

Bent Hansen - sidst ændret: 20240124

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