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SCANDINAVIAN CIVILIZATION


customs are afforded by a curious find in Jutland, where between 20 and 30 earthenware vessels each contained a slaughtered lamb. With these were found remains of rude altars.

Of domestic arts, weaving and dyeing seem to have been carried to a high degree of perfection. The art of pottery has also advanced, especially in Jutland, where we find a multiplicity of forms, with decoration in bands of slanting lines. It was during this period that the Scandinavians acquired the Runic alphabet from the southern Germanic tribes. The specifically Northern variant of this alphabet does not appear till later. Inscriptions from this period, cut into stone monuments, are found in Norway and Sweden.

The next period (the first of the Later Stone Age), called in Denmark the Post-Roman, and in Sweden and Norway the “Period of National Migrations,” brings us from A.D. 400 to about 700. In Denmark these centuries are very obscure, owing to the fact that the graves there are usually difficult to find, being without mounds and unfurnished with goods. Bornholm, where inhumation is greatly on the increase, is again the chief centre for grave-finds. Some few graves contain the personal equipment of the dead: sword, spear, axe, shield, knife and whetstone, and occasionally the skeletons of horse and dog. The vessels for food and drink are no longer found. At Old Upsala, Vendel and Ultuna, all in Upland, great interest attaches to the first ship-graves. These become common in Norway, fairly frequent in Sweden, and even in Finland, but only one grave containing remains of a boat has so far been found in Denmark. The details of the earlier Swedish ship-burials are somewhat obscured for us because the ship and all its contents have been burnt, but we can see that in these the dead man sits at the stern, as if about to set forth on a journey, while in later graves of the Viking Period, both burnt and unburnt, the corpse seems to have been laid on a bed in a chamber built amidships for the purpose. All the larger ship-burials are remarkable for the large number of animal bones found, including those of horses, oxen, pigs, sheep and fowls.

The gold ornaments of the period are its chief glory: indeed the wealth of gold, especially in Sweden, has suggested the title “Gold Age” for these centuries. The favourite ornaments of the period were the so-called bracteates, worn as pendants, and imitated from Roman coins, but often stamped on one side only and decorated in the Northern style. Magnificent brooches of engraved or filigree work, some with a plate at the hinge end at right angles to the pin, others oval, often representing an animal seen from above, are among the finest productions of the time. The decoration of conventionalized animal forms is a marked feature, and, though characteristic of all the Germanic races at this time, is best executed in the north. When worked in filigree the animals' limbs become more and more attenuated and snake-like, or, on the other hand, when engraved, show less and less connexion with each other, but the artist's aim, a good decorative effect, is attained, even though there is a certain barbaric absence of restraint in design.

In the Viking Age, from about 800 to the introduction of Christianity in the 10th and 11th centuries, Norway, hitherto the poorest in antiquities, springs into prominence. A wealth of objects is found in the graves, and especially in some of the larger ship-graves, such as those of Gokstad, Tune, Myklebostad and Oseberg (also in the Norwegian ship-grave at Groix, Brittany). Fortunately a number of these ships are unburnt, and in view of the importance of seafaring in the Viking Age, it is worth noting that a mast with square sail of woollen material is common. One ten-oared vessel from this period is of exactly the same build as those used to this day in the district where it was excavated. A number of shield bosses are often found in the vessels, and it is clear that shields were hung round the bulwarks exactly as Icelandic sources describe. The prow and stern-post are often beautifully carved. Sometimes the remains of as many as 12 horses are found in one of these graves, besides those of a number of dogs. The presence of anvils, pincers and other tools, as well as weapons and ornaments, is noteworthy, indicating that the art of metal-work was held in esteem even among chiefs, as indeed is known from literary sources. During this period, moreover, iron ore was extracted, smelted and worked in Scandinavia. The weapons found are swords, knives, sickles, battle-axes, spears and arrows. The sword is two-edged, with a wooden hilt often beautifully decorated with silver. The axe is very broad-bladed, and evidently of great importance, being often the only weapon found in graves. Helmets and coats of mail are not found in Norway, but are comparatively common in Sweden.

We owe much of our knowledge of this period to the unburnt burials which were fortunately usual. In Denmark grave-chambers of wood, such as those at Jellinge, stand nearest to the ship-graves. In Sweden the great number of graves surrounding the ancient town of Birka (mod. Björkö), should be noticed. Most graves have a round, oblong or triangular howe raised over them. A feature of the period are the tall, rudely-hewn bauta-stones, set up over graves containing burnt bones, or sometimes merely to the memory of the dead. Large upright stones are sometimes set round a grave in a circle, or in the shape of a ship, with pointed bow and stern. It is noticeable that the graves are often in closing proximity to the modern cemeteries. In this period women are also occasionally buried in a boat or ship, as in the case of one of the finest ship-graves, that at Oseberg. Women's graves often contain splendid ornaments, though gold and silver are rare in grave-finds, and the large oval-headed pins and the oblong or trefoil-shaped clasps found in them are usually of bronze, while in other finds silver ornaments are common. Silver is as characteristic of this period as gold of the preceding one, Denmark alone yielding no less than 25 important silver finds, some of them consisting of necklaces of very fine filigree work, or of dexterously woven silver wires. The style of decoration is the same as the preceding period, but bolder, less refined and often heavy. Ornaments are often set with garnets. The influence of Irish art is discernible, as in the spirals which terminate the limbs of the animal forms, and in the frequent interlacing designs; and we are not surprised to find a number of objects of Irish manufacture in Norway. On the other hand, English leaf decoration is imitated, and Carolingian models appear to have served for certain grotesque forms, such as dragons, winged lions, &c. Sweden shows the same influences at work, though the Swedes still had most dealings with the eastern Baltic countries, and with the Scandinavian kingdom of Novgorod. “Cufic” coins, struck in Persia and Turkestan, are found together with those of Germany and England. It is clear proof of Gorland's commercial importance that it is still the richest treasure-ground in this respect, even for English coins. Evidence for the eastern communications of Sweden is afforded by Runic inscriptions, some of which state that the chief whom the stone commemorates fell in Finland or Esthonia. Runic inscriptions with the later, entirely Northern alphabet are now common all over Scandinavia. The stones, especially the later Swedish ones, are often carved with spiral and animal designs, and some represent mythical scenes such as the adventures of Sigurd Fafnisbane, depicted on a stone from Södermannland. The houses of this period were usually built of wood, and consisted, as we know from literary evidence, of a large hall with various outbuildings. The descriptions in Icelandic sagas of tapestry hangings are borne out by the discovery of traces of hangings in grave-chambers, especially those at Jellinge in Denmark. Some fragments of cloth, showing designs in various colours, testify to a considerable degree of skill in weaving, and figured silk material is found in some of the ship-graves. Traces of feather mattresses and wooden beds are found in some of these graves, and dice and playing-pieces resembling draughtsmen frequently occur. The remains of humbler dwellings have been found, some of them resembling a type of cottage still to be seen in southern Sweden, built of wattles, plastered inside and out.

Another feature of the Viking Age consists in the great earthworks, many of them standing to this day. Such are the famous Danevirke, stretching right across Schleswig, the work of Queen Thyra, who lies in one of the great howes at Jellinge, and the so-called bygdeborge in Norway, some of which are assigned to Viking times.

Authorities.—O. Montelius, Kulturgeschichte Schwedens von den ältesten Zeiten (Leipzig, 1906). An earlier Swedish edition of this book has been translated into English by F. H. Woods: Civilization of Sweden in Heathen Times (London, 1888); S. Müller, Nordische Alterthumskunde; Deutsche Ausgabe, von O. L. Jiriczek (Strassburg, 1897), and Ordnung af Danmarks Oldsager, Système Préhistorique du Danemark (Copenhagen and Paris); Worsaae, The Industrial Arts of Denmark (London, 1882); G. Gustafson, Norges Oldtid (Christiania, 1906); O. Rygh, Norwegian Antiquities (French and Norwegian text) (London and Christiania, 1880); A. Hansen, Landnåm i Norge (Christiania, 1904); E. Vedel, Bornholms Oldtidsminder (Copenhagen, 1886); J. Undset, Das Erste Auftreten des Eisens in Nord-Europa; J. Mestorf, Urnenfriedhöfe in Schleswig-Holstein (Hamburg, 1886) and Vorgeschichtliche Alterthümer aus Schleswig-Holstein (Hamburg, 1885); B. Salin, Die altgermanische Thierornamentik, übersetzt von J. Mestorf (Stockholm, 1904). Also articles by the above, and by H. Schetelig, H. Hildebrand, H. Stolpe and others, in various periodicals, especially Bergens Museums Aarbog (Bergen), Aarsberetninger fra Foreningen til norske Fortidsmindesmaerkers Bevaring (Christiania), Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed (Copenhagen), Antiqvarisk Tidskrift för Sverige (Stockholm), the Månadsblad of the Kgl. Vitterhets Historie och Antiqvitets Akademie (Stockholm), Fornvännen, published since 1906 by the same society, Svenska Fornminnesforeningens Tidskrift (Stockholm), Ymer (Stockholm). The guides to the various Scandinavian museums are of great value. Some of them can be obtained in English. The importance of the Kiel Museum, with its