History of the Vikings
racial stock. These new arrivals first become important in the subsequent 'Migration Period' (see p. 66) and they seem to have sought western Norway in particular, for more than one rune-stone on the Vestland coast attests their presence and shows them to have been men from the regions of the upper Rhine, Frisia, and Francia. Indeed, their coming was in all probability a result of the development by the Frisians of a great trade-route between western Christendom and the Scandinavian north and, as such, it was not without importance in the cultural history of these far-off lands; thus grave-customs, especially in Norway, and pottery types altered under their influence and the northern peoples found themselves linked to the west Germans by a commercial bond that was to survive, firm and unbroken, into the Viking Period.
But the naming of the Germans and the Goths has already involved the narrative in the faint and uncertain beginnings of history, and henceforward the tale must be elaborated by knowledge derived from historical sources. The time has come, therefore, to assemble the simple facts already brought to the notice of the reader and to conclude the archaeological account.
The summary can be easily stated. The Stone Age in the north was pre-eminently a period of immigration, of successive arrivals of folk driven from the central plains of Europe to seek new homes. In a word, it was the period of the population of the north. The Bronze Age, on the other hand, was a static period that witnessed the consolidation of these various folk into a single and admirable northern civilization, distinct from that of southern lands, though always intimately connected with the civilization of north Germany by both a cultural and a racial bond. The pre-Roman Iron Age saw a serious degeneration of this northern civilization, together with a partial emigration of its peoples, but the Roman Iron Age itself was the time of a cultural renaissance that re-established the northern civilization as a powerful and well-equipped group of tribes, albeit a restless people with eyes turned enviously upon the richer lands of the south.
Throughout this length of time the real power and wealth of the north was centred in Denmark, and in Southern and Central Sweden, and the Baltic islands of Gotland and Bornholm, and it is, of course, in these places that the 'ages' of the customary archaeological classification can best be distinguished and defined. But northern archaeology is in reality much more complex than this simple division into periods has suggested, and no work in recent years has done more to show how danger-
ous such glib classification may be than the brilliant and penetrating study by Dr. A. W. Brogger, Del Norske folk i oldtiden. (1) Dr. Brøgger has shown that in Norway, at any rate, the life of the people is well-nigh independent of the usual archaeological machinery of 'ages' and culture-periods. The introduction of agriculture during the Stone Age and the much later introduction of iron are, in his eyes, the chief events of domestic importance; in fact, except for changes in habits and pursuits thereby involved, the life of the Norwegians continued little altered from the Stone Age until the Viking Period; indeed, in many respects, as notably in the matter of equipment, it remained little altered until late historic times. Occupied in a long-established seasonal routine of hunting, fishing, and tilling the land, the Norwegians in their far-off isolated homes had little to gain by a greedy search for new fashions in the simple tools and weapons they required. Thus, throughout the Bronze Age of Denmark, the Norwegians were content with what was almost entirely a lithic equipment, and the 'Stone Age' lasted in a sense right up to the beginning of the Roman Iron Age. And there is no need, observes Dr. Brøgger in parenthesis, to be surprised at conservatism in the far past, since late in the last century, and long after the introduction of the grenade-harpoon, the peasants in the Skogsvaag near Bergen continued hunting the whale with bow and arrow.
The truth is that culture-divisions are applicable only where they can be directly observed, and they must never, without strict examination, be held as automatically valid for adjacent communities. Thus it is probable that in other remote parts of Scandinavia, just as in many districts of Norway, the periodnarrative given in these pages is a meaningless confusion of a simple story. Therefore the culture-changes indicated must be held to apply only to the rich and vigorous peoples of certain geographically favoured parts of Denmark and Scandinavia, and as a background there remains always the steady and littlechanged peasant-life of the Stone Age folk. Indeed, even in Denmark it may be that the periods are too severely defined, for a Bronze Age habitation-site has been found at Voldtofte, close to Assens on Fyen Island, whereon lay sufficient of stone implements to suggest forcibly that stone was still in common use in the late Bronze Age. As a complement to this find there
1. Oslo, 1925: German trans. Kulturgeschichte des norwegischen Alterums, Oslo, 1926. Mr. Reginald Smith has given a summary of this work in a review, Antiquaties Journal, VII, 542; cf. my own review of the book, Atiquity, II (1928). p. 253.
is a bronze founder's hoard from Haag near Randus that contained, in addition to the usual bronze material, a few flint tools.
As an end to this chapter a word must be said on the subject of the peopling of the neighbouring lands across the Baltic and the Gulf of Bothnia. The civilization of north Germany, of course, must be deemed a veritable extension of the northern civilization that has been described, for the folk of north Germany, Denmark, and southern Scandinavia were of one and the same racial stock. But the Baltic coast from Prussia to the Gulf of Finland forms, in the Early Iron Age at any rate, (1) a distinct archaeological province. Here there were already settled peoples of Finno-Ugrian race, the ancestors of the Livonians, Esths, and Finns, whose culture, at the beginning of the Iron Age, though poor and ill-represented, is characterized throughout the whole extent of the province by east German fashions. The Roman influence was slight, and was exerted at second hand through German intermediaries, but in the third and fourth centuries of this era there is, as is to be expected, plain evidence of Gothic influence, the result not only of movement along the trade-route to south Russia, but of the actual settlement of the Goths, before and during their migration period, in the neighbourhood of the lower Weichsel. In the sixth century this great group of Finno-Ugrian, yet partly Germanized, folk was broken by the incursion of two new peoples of an Indo-germanic race, namely the Lithuanians and the Letts, who seized the country south and west of the Gulf of Riga; thus the East Baltic littoral had a heterogeneous population, consisting of diverse Finno-Ugrian and Indo-germanic folk at the end of the Migration Period. At this time the influences from north Germany weaken and finally disappear, leaving the Baltic province isolated from western Europe, but henceforward influenced to an ever-increasing extent from Scandinavia and Finland.
In Finland, the Stone Age had already witnessed the arrival of a palaearctic Finno-Ugrian population (the comb-pottery people) and also of an Indo-European folk, the bearers of the Culture. The resultant civilization had, as elsewhere in the north, degenerated during the first period of the Iron Age into a poverty-stricken group of peoples, sparsely represented by finds, and the first cultural amelioration was brought about by the immigration into west Finland in the
1. For the Stone Age, see the convenient summary by C. A. Nordman, Journ. R. Anthr. Inst. LII (1922), 26 ff.
early centuries of this era of Finnic peoples from the Baltic Province, a folk whose culture was largely influenced by that of the Goths. So strong, in fact, is the Gothic character of this new element in the population of Finland, that the 'Gothic Iron Age' has been proposed as a better name for the ensuing period than the customary term Roman Iron Age. (1) In the fifth and sixth centuries, on the other hand, Swedish influence becomes manifest, and there may even have been Swedish colonies at this period in east Bothnia. It is certain that Swedish colonies were established in the succeeding century, but the Scandinavian influence weakened again in the eighth century, and in the Viking Period it becomes almost negligible, doubtless by reason of the preoccupation of the Swedes with their newly established colonies in Russia. There was, however, a fresh immigration from Esthonia into Finland about this time, and the newcomers, amalgamating with the original Finno-Gothic people, and the descendants of the Stone Age folk, developed into the Finns of historical times.
In the north of Scandinavia and Finland dwelt the Lapps, a separate palaearctic people of the Samoyed brachycephalic group, isolated at some remote, but unknown period, and, by the time of the Iron Age in south Scandinavia, already long acclimatized as children of the high latitudes. Very little is known of them in antiquity, though an Iron Age hunting-station of the Lapps has been identified in the Varanger fjord. This shows a culture that is mainly confined to bone implements and weapons, though these primitive objects were accompanied by a few simple tools of iron. It is accordingly supposed, as indeed is likely, that the Stone Age, or Bone Age rather, of the Lapps, passed directly into an Iron Age. The earliest unmistakeable signs of trade between the Lapps and the outside world are some Teutonic ornaments and coins of the Migration Period, but the nomad life of these people has made it excessively difficult to study their past by ordinary archaeological method. It is known merely that the Lapps were already established in the far north before the opening of the present era, and that their remote nomadic life continued uneventful and uninterrupted during the turbulent centuries when Scandinavian seamen ruled the northern waters and the shadows of the viking invasions darkened over Christendom.
1. C. A. Nordman, Kultur och folk i Finlands forntid, Helsingfors, 1928 (in Svenska Litteratursällskapets Förhaisdlingar, N.F. 4).