Nordic contact with Rome?
We dont know how close the contact between the Romans and the Scandinavian tribes might have been.
The written sources are very few. And in Scandinavia there were no writing, only a few early Runes. And the roman sources are narratives for the whole of Germania, like Tacitus and Ptolemaeus.
The tribes of The North inscribed themselves in Roman history already round 100 BC. When the Teutons and Cimbri migrated to the Roman regions and was beaten by general Publius Marius at the battle of Vercellae in 101 BC.
Augustus bescribe in his memoirs, the ”Res Gestae” at his funeral mausolaeum, that he send a small expeditionary force led by Tiberius to The North in year 5 AD. This expedition can not be confirmed by other sources.
After the Varus disaster
When Arminius wiped out three legions in Teutoburger Wald in year 9 AD, the Romans retired to the western bank of the River Rhine. But in the years that followed many roman expeditions was deployed into Germania. Partly for revenge and to find the lost Eagles of the legions from year 9 AD, and to ensure, the no Germans would attack across the river.
In year 15 general Germanicus – adoptive son of Tiberius – actually succeeded in catching the wife of Arminius, Tusnelda.
Roman activities in The North?
From the first century AD a lot of interesting finds have been found in Denmark.
Roman sources tell that general Silius Caecina Largus took command of the Rhine Army in the years after Quintillius Varus.
One of his assignments was to find new allies in Germania, that could help him find the lost legions. In Hoby on the isle of Falster a very fine collection of roman dishes and siver drinking cups with the name ”SILIUS” engraved in the bottom, has been found in a noblemans grave. In this region, parts of a roman Cline – a roman bed – was also found.
In Horsens, a roman dagger – a Pugio – and several other parts of what perhaps have been a Roman Centurions uniform, have been found. Among these also a high quality riveted Roman ”Hamata” – mail armour.
In Vimose at Odense a large number of roman artifacts has been found. Among these roman 1st century gladii and a griffon from a gladiators helmet.
In Gudme on Funen several treasures of roman coins, dishes and more has been found. And Actually in Denmark, no local museum is without roman artifacts found in 1st century graves.
How hs all these artifacts gotten here? Are the silver cups from Hoby a gift from Silius Largus to the local prince? Is the ”Centurion” from horsens a local tribesman who had served The Roman Legions and was buried (Burned) in his roman uniform? Or are there artifacts in fact spoils of war?
The finds of Gudme could find its cause in the ancint tradingplace Lundeborg on the southcoast of Funen, where also roman merchants could have traded. A lot of roman coins have been found in the soil here.
The princes and Marcus Aurelius
In the second century a picture of small ”Kingdoms” show through the graves of ”Princes”, found f.isnt. in Himlingøje and Ishøj on Zealand, Denmark.
The tombs are rich on roman artifacts and tell stories of small Kingdoms with contacts as far away as Ukraine. Even though they never tried to conquer Germania again, the Romans made ”Client states” – allied tribes on the German side of the border. Such a ”union” is suggested in the cases of the tombs from Himlingøje and Ishøj.
In the years 166-180 AD Marcus Aurelius was at war with the Sarmantians and Marcomannics in what now is Tjekkia and Slovenia. These wars was preludes to coming migrations.
In the remains of the Roman military camps from these wars, Scandinavian fibulas and other jewelry has been found. Maby indicating, that Scandinavian Auxillary participated in the Wars on the Roman side.
The great bogfinds of the third Century AD
Far from the borders of the Roman Empire – in Denmark – we acutally have the largest collection of roman weapons in the World! Due to the large Bog offerings of the third and fourth century. In these centuries the Roman Empire is in decline. But finds show, that trade with the Romans continiued.
The Illerup Ådal finds on Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus is one of them. This find show a Bog offering after a large battle in the third century, probably between a Norwegian and a Danish army, Both armed with Roman weapons.