Nordic Ironage

The time when the Roman Empire dominated Europe is named ”The Roman Ironage” in Scandinavia. This archeological period covers the years 0 to 400 AD.


The arceological periods in Scandinavia and Europe

In The North (Scandinavia, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland) we use different terms for the historical periods than the rest of Europe. This due to two historical reasons. The North has a unique period called ”Viking Age” – the years 800 - 1050 AD – wich lies in the middle of what the rest of Europe call Middel Ages. The time before we call Roman Ironage and Germanic Ironage (400 – 800 AD).


The Catholic times

The second reason is that Christianity came very late to these regions. In the Roman Empire Christianity was state religion in the fourth century AD. In The North the religion arrived as late as the 10 century – the end of the Viking Age.

In Denmark we term the end of the Viking Age with the coronation of King Svend Estridsen in year 1047. In Scandinavia we use the term ”The Middle Ages” for the Catholic period from 1047 – 1536 when The Reformation and Protestantism took over.

So, ”the Ironage” covers a long time of different ”Ironages” from the Bronze Age to the Viking Age. The period is relatively dark, because there are no written sources from these times in The North. The first Runes appear in Roman Ironage, but only as single words, no narratives. And only a handful of writings from Romans and early Catholics describe these parts of Europe. So it is mainly the Archeological evidence that are sources for this period.


Archeological sources

But the archeological sources from these times are rich. Especially from the roman period. It is in these centuries that many cities and villages in Scandinavia are founded. The time is dominated by agriculture, iron production and trade with the romans.

The contact with Rome is without doubt also the sources and inspiration to the nordic ”Alfabet” – the Runes, wich appear in its most early form in Roman Ironage.

Roman Ironagew is also a time of wars and great offerings in The North. Finds from Bogs like Vimose by Odense and Illerup Ådal and Alken Enge by Skanderborg, is proof of armies clashing – often equipped with roman weapons.

Also large rampart buildings in Southern Jutland like the Olgerdiget and Vendersvold – clearly copied from roman Limes fortifications – tell stories of forgotten struggle in a world of tribes in the shadow of the Roman Empire.