About the Gothic peoples in the Nordic Countries and on the Continent

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TítuloAbout the Gothic peoples in the Nordic Countries and on the Continent
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Fig. 21 The Ålleberg-collar. Picture: Kent Andersson 1994

Holmquist regards the collars as royal regalia and supports himself on three assumptions. 1) They are made of gold which was reserved for the most powerful. 2) They are technically and artistically on the higest level of that time. 3) They are constructed according to a predefinitioned program.(Holmqvist 1980, p.85f) Since Quist already earlier has indicated that the majority of the Swedish solidi-finds- according to Herschend 35%—are made on Oland while most of the massive gold instead is found in Vastergotland, he means that the West-gautic and Olandic "royal power" have had a close relation with the Huns. Holmquist connects the solidi-pay- ments in the shape of tributes to the Greutungi during the period they were dominated by the Huns and were their allies. Also Kyhlberg and Herschend have this opinion.(Kyhlberg 1983, p.34; Herschend 1980, p.51) Besides Holmquist claims that the gold-collars have been"worn by the higest rulers of that time as symbols for rank and power in a grand-scale political and administrative system." (Holmqvist 1980, p.96 f) He also claims that the fact the collars are built by 3, 5 and 7 rings they may indicate rankor at least have different meanings. Hyenstrand notes that the obvious wealth of gold in Vastergotland shows upon extensive economical activities and a developed organisation of society, and that Vastergotland is a key-area.. .not least what concerns research around forms of society and grand-scale economical circumstances and state-formation. (Hyenstrand 1982, p.79) Holmquist means Vastergotland meets the demands of a power-centre, and that the landscape occupies a unique position, both concerning the total volume of gold (gold-frequency) and gold-intensity.(Holmqvist 1972) Quist draws the conclusion that Vastergotland is a potential powerconcentration-area compared to e.g. Oland, and that Oland possibly might be part of a political-administrative system dependent ofVästergötland.(Quist 1983, p.32)


Fig. 22Diagram over the not coined Migration Period gold exclusive bracteates and sword-buttons, divided on landscapes after total weight (grams). (Source: Ove Quist 1983)


Fig. 23 Distribution-map over Vastergotland. All gold-finds shown

after locations in parish. The distribution answers to the by me actualised cult- and powercentra. (Source: Ove Quist 1983)

Connection West-Gauts—Goths

A conclusion of the above related is that the connection between Vastergotland and the Continental Goths becomes more touchable than before. Disregarded what has been said above about the domestic or foreign fabrication of the collars, the connection with Greutungi remains during this period, and earlier, as already stated, there are contemporary stylistic influences pointing towards regular contacts during the whole period. Quist contradicts himself a little when he on the one hand presupposes melted solidi for manufacturing of the collar, and on the other sees clear Asiatic traits in the figures, but this assumption is however also made by many other interpreters. The question is whether local gold-smiths really worked with this representational world which I understand as Orientalic or Celtic. There is a possibility, indeed, but I do not regard myself as competent enough to take a firm stand-point in this question.

There are however more indicies of intensive contacts between Scandinavians and Goths and other peoples in Eastern Europe. The Finnestorp- and Vennebo- finds in Vastergotland and the examinations of Charlotte Fabech in e.g. Sosdala and Fulltofta in Skåne are all connected with Eastern Europe and also show Hunnic traits. Also in the mound in Hogom in Halsingland in Eastern Sweden similar finds have been made. She herself claims the finds are Herulic but according to the dating it is too early for that considering Procopius information of their return in 512, but also Heruls indeed have a close connection with the Goths. More about the excavations by Fabech later in the book.

The Finnestorp-site was excavated for the first time in the beginning of the 20th c. but later new excavations have been undertaken in the 1980's by Ulf Viking and lastly in 2000-2002 by Bengt Nordquist.(Bengt Nordquist, Excavation reports 2000, 2001 and 2002, RAA, UV-Vast, Kungsbacka) The excavations are still under way in 2003, and hopingly many more finds will appear. From a relatively small site it has now grown to an extent that the present excavator Ph.D.Bengt Nordquist of RAA considers it likely that it is one of the very largest war-boot—sacrifice places in Northern Europe, and the finds indeed compete with the Illerup-find with that difference that here it is a great amount of welthy and rare finds and spread over a greater area. The dating lies approximately in the 5th and


cc. AD (Bengt

Nordquist, pers.com.) The found objects relate to wealthy golden and gold-inlaid harnesses and Hunnic inspired saddle-equipments,but also swords with golden and gold-inlaid parts and elaborated scabbards. Even simpler weapons as well as sacrified horses, wooden constructions et c. are included. All objects exhibit a distinct East- European character.

In the harness-equipment in Finnestorp is also a pendant, which the earlier excavator described as pelte-shaped. (Ulf Viking 1987, p.171) I however understand it as lunula-shaped. It is made by bronze covered with silverplate, and it is ornated with stamp-decor and gilded in the ornated parts. It is stamped with star- shaped pattern and a fringe-decoration of semi-circles. It strongly reminds of answering lunula-shaped pendants in the Sosdala-find.

In Brangstrup on Funen has been found a number of close to similar pendants in gold, some of them undecorated. They are regarded by Herbst, Alfoldi, Forssander, Petersen and Werner as coming from the Cerniachov- Sintana-de- Mures-culture. (Kent Andersson 1995, p.41) Finnestorp has traditionally earlier been seen as connected with the Heruls, and this probably caused by Fabech's theories in Skåne. I instead see these pendants as indications of Gothic connections and the present excavation-leader more and more leans towards an inclusion of both Goths and Heruls, since the find period covers that long time.(Bengt Nordqvist, pers.com.) In Vastergotland is also a popular lore about the Hunahar, i.e. the Hunnic army, which could be an obscure oral tradition reminding of returning Ostrogoths.


Fig. 24 Left: Lunulashaped harness-pendant from the Finnestorp-find. Source: Ulf Viking 1987, p. 171.

Right: Lunula-shaped pendants from Brangstrup on Funen. Cut out from picture in Kent Andersson 1995, p. 41.

Other significant finds in both Finnestorp and Vannebo, which also is excavated by Bengt Nordqvist, are bridle-chains of matching types, and of a definitely Eastern European origin. In this connection I will also remind of a find of a fragment of such a bridle-chain in Skanings-Asaka in Vastergotland, which according to Ulf Erik Hagberg (U.E. Hagberg 1979, p. 295 ff) answers to objects in the Skedemosse sacrifice-find on Oland, Kassviken in the Orsunda-stream, Torsbjerg in Angeln and Ejsb0l in Denmark. In Sweden there were approximately 10 finds until the last diggings in Finnestorp and Vennebo where, as mentioned, still more have been found till now. In the rest of Scandinavia there are about as many as the old figure. They all have one thing in common, namely that they are considered to be sacrifice-finds, and it is to note that bracteates and solidi remarkably often have been found together with them.


Fig.25 Left: Bridle-chain excavated in Finnestorp Middle and right:Two of the harness-plates with ornated-pattern in gilded bronze found in Finnestorp and with an estimated dating to the 5th c.AD. Source:Bengt Nordqvist.




Fig. 27 Above left: full sice and detail-enlarged parry-pin for horse-bridle. Below left: press-plate from sword sacbbard, gilded. Above right: a sample of finds from Finnestorp. Below right: a horse-headed saddle-ftting from Vannebo. Source:

Bengt Nordqvist.

The finds referred to above definitely indicate a very strong connection between Vastergotland and the Continental Germanics in South-Eastern Europe during the time the Goths were as most active both inside the Roman empire and also as Hunnic allies. The saddle-equipment found also indicate, that these warriors fought in a manner inspired by the Huns. This is also clearly demonstrated in Hogom, where the dead chieftain had a complete Hunnic set of bow, arrows and various specialized spears meant for fighting on the horseback. The parry- pins are identical with those found in Hogom. It is worth remarking that Hogom is situated at the main-trade route from Norway to the Baltic showing that also the Norwegians easily could access the Baltic area without having to sail southwards, and that close connections were kept also this way between the two kin- folks. The Hogom equipment accordingly as well could have a Norwegian connection.

The famous Timboholm gold-treasure hord in Vastergotland, which weighs more than 7 kilograms, is by Ulf Erik Hagberg considered a royal treasure, even if it mostly consists of payment-gold. (U.E. Hagberg 1985, p.107) In this connection primarily a bracelet of gold is interesting, since similar links have been found in princely graves on the Continent.

Fig. 28 The Forsbyring. Source: Kent Andersson 1986, p. 48.

In Vastergotland also another interesting find has been made, which has parallels on four other find-sites.At Skattegården, Hogåsen in Forsby a golden ring from the 200-300's AD was found with a plane-grinded carneol fastened in a soldered bottom-plate, and with filigran- thread and stamp-decor. It has caused an extensive discussion whether it is a Nordic, Gothic or Roman work. Kent Andersson lately has decided it is an East- Roman provincial work, and hence we have a natural contact-surface with the Goths. Similar finds have been made in Vrangstrup, Varpelev, Ravnkilde and Søndre Kjørstad.(Kent Andersson 1986, p.147 ff) The Forsby-ring has an unique decoration with stamped tri-peds, wich else do not appear in the North with exception of three Gotlandic snake-head-rings from Etelhem, Garda and Hejnum (Kent Andersson 1986, p.155) who however are native. This clearly demonstrates an eastern and southern contact, and an from outward coming style-influence. A rather similar and very magnificent ring at SHM has beenfound at Fullero in Gamla Uppsala parish. It is Provincial-Roman, and that it has been found in a grave from the 5th c.AD together with a gold-coin from the reign of Maximianus, which has been worn as an pendant. (Kent Andersson, 1994,p.32)

Still an interesting, above shortly mentioned, item connecting Vastergotland with the Goths is the magnicifient rune-stone in Sparlosa. It depicts what I consider to be a cathedral of rude making. Below is a ship in the shape of a moon- crescent and a square sail equipped with a cross. On top of the sail two birds are sitting. Below the boat is a rider and animals, one of which looks like a hunting leopard. The rider wears narrow slim trousers and a Phrygian cap and points with a sword. On one side a lion fighting with a ducknebbed snake and on still another side a row of crosses. To me all this tells the carver of the stone either must have visited the realm of Teoderik the Great himself, or have got a very minute description from there by an eyewitness. I you consider that the virgin Mary was by the Goths, and also in later Christian iconography is, linked to the moon and in fact has her roots in Isis and Harpokrates of the late Antique Serapion-cult and further back to Alma Mater et c. and by the Goths her forerunner is Freja/Ingun, it is close lying to identify the ship with her. On the sail are the two imperial East-Roman peacocks. In addition may be remarked that a usual picture-symbol in Byzans is the Tree of Life flanked with the two imperial Peacocks. This is understood just as the virgin Mary. The crosses and the cathedral need no comments. In a mosaic in Ravenna there is a picture of the three wise men dressed in Phrygian caps, short coats and slim, narrow trousers in exactly the fashion being common among wealthy Ostrogoths in the time of Teoderik. The hunting leopard definitely not was used in Sweden at this time. The lion and the snake is a well known symbolism of the fight between Christ and the evil. Hence we have a Christian stone with clear Arian traits in Vastergotland. It dates according to earlier estimations from the 9th c AD and this is based on that it has the younger futhark with 16 runes instead of 24. However, if you look to the pictures, it could not be younger than, as the latest, the beginning of the 7th c.AD. If the informant of the rune-master was old and had visited the Gothic realm in Italy in his youth, i.e. before the 550's, he could still have been alive in the beginning of the 600's. If the rune-master himself was in Italy the stone must be still older. The idea that the 16-type futhark does not come before the 9th c. is also not proven beyond doubt. In any case the Sparlosa stone is an impressive connection with the Arian Goths and it as well suggests there were Arians in Sweden at that time.

Fig. 29 The Sparlosa rune-stone in Vastergotland, Sweden. Source: B.F. Jansson, Runinskrifter i Sverige, 1963

The power is based on cult

The position of Vastergotland as a power-political centre during this time is also obvious, but whether there stands any great-scale political and administrative organisation behindat this time is rather dubious. I find it more probable with a number of competing power-centra with varying alliances, who according to the habits at this time ought to be based on sacral and power. In any case does the secular power in the cases we have seen this far base itself on a sacral motivation of power. It is possible, but not probable, that this power might have embraced the whole plain- and Camro-Silurian areas in Vastergotland, but it is still more probable that there has existed at least two-three power centres in the landscape. In connection with the Vittene-find the name Gronan unannounced pops up in the memory, since ther in this area appear both a vast number of rock-carvings and chieftain's graves and signs of an extensive commercial activity from the Bronze Age and up into the early Viking Time. The ship-yard in Askekarr lies close beside like also Skepplanda (landingsite of ships?). Also to Vittene you can go by boat via a small stream up to the presumed chieftain's yard. You once could travel all the way to lake Vanern on this waterway without having to take the boat on land at the waterfalls in Stora and Lilla Edet. Stora Edet is today Trollhattan. By everything to judge, evidently this area is connected with the Gota alv riverand it's communication-system. Maybe Gronan is the legendary Gronkoping—the old trading-place later in folklore localised to Hjo. Gudhem appears in this connection as a very interesting place. It has by many been supposed that the golden necklace-collars not were meant for normal, human use utan were meant for decoration of idolsor priests/priestesses, i.e. for sacral use. Since we already earlier have seen the relatively strong position of women, and I also see a connection between the cult of Frejr/Freja and the one of 03inn via Bal3r, and also have put the finds of bracteates in Lidkoping and Skara in connection with Gudhem, it is hence not far to conclude that the distance between Gudhem and Alleberg not is very great. The Alleberg-collar was a single find in a provisorical treasure hide and nothing hints from where it has come. It accordingly very well might have come from Gudhem in connection with warfare, theft, Christian agression or othertypes of disorder. That it besides also has existed a cult-place in Gotala which is presumed to be connected with the thing of all Gautar might be regarded as rather confirmed, but it is mentiond in the sources only from a later epoch. In spite of this it might of course be an alternative, but the name suggests a place more directly tied to Gaut or 03inn-Gaut and does hardly associate directly to a golden necklace-collar. Also the find-site lies wrong for this alternative.

The talk of a united Gautic realm in the 5th c. or earlier can hardly be regarded as realistic, but instead allianses between a number of chiefdoms/petty-kingdoms from time to other might seem plausible. I here disregard the suggested realm of Ivarr vi3fam3i which in that case is later, and besides in no way reliably confirmed. What basically has united them should be the common legitimation of power from 03inn-Gaut counter the earlier sacral connection with the sun-god. The fights that are mentioned between Sviar and Gautar accordingly should be based on the power-legitimation of the respective leader, but this can however not outrule the possibility also of internal fighting on each side in purely political matters. It however explains why these fights can be fought in varying places without special connection to the later geographical regions Svealand and Gotaland. It also explains why the fertility-cult to it's outer structure not is affected by these fights, since it is in both cases used as a medium for the cult of the rulers.

Furingsten concludes in his dissertation about changes in society in a longtime perspectivethe developement within the examined parts of Vastergotland as follows: "Through the whole analysed epoch of time, from c:a 1500 BC to 1000 AD, there is a continous developement from the more simple and uncomplicated to the more advanced and complicated. New elements all the time appear in the picture of the society's developement. The contact-surfaces with the surrounding world get bigger and more complicated. New institutions seem to be introduced." He explains this with mostly economical reasons but he also remarks:"The intermittent changes however can not be generally indicated or explained by this continous driving-force of changes. (i.e. economical reasons. My remark.) The rapid happenings at certain trend-breaks in the developement have been suggested to depend on changes in the the ideology or the religion of the society." (Furingsten 1985, p.180) In opposite to the Marxistic theories which all the time see economical resons as the foundation of changes Furingsten states that he has observed a "generally seen in time coinciding change-epoch within all the four sectors of society, economical, political,and religious/ideological circumstances." He concludes:

An ideological/religious change can get a very rapid spread also in societies lacking the masscommunication-system of modern society,

unless it meets resistance from groups in society who are interested in keeping the earlier ideology, to keep their power-position in society. If the ideological change is of such an character that the great majority of humans receive economical advantages, this however contributes to a rapid acceptance of the change.The consequence of an ideological change giving opportunities to a rapid economical developement hence may rapidly get consequences for the developement of all the society. (Furingsten 1985, p.178).

His example about the replacement of private property with the feudal-system, which change led to a rapid economical and social developement, is however not quite correct. He forgets that the precondition for the feudal-system was the Roman law that introduced private property as a legal term. Till then the Germanics only knew the right to dispose the land where you acually lived, but you could not own land far away where you not also lived, and still less collect taxes and land-hire from people living there. Apart of this his theses indeed support the conclusions I myself have drawn of the material, wher all greater changes seem to rest on political/economical/religious foundations, who are difficult to divide in regard to cause and consequence, and they seem to occur simultaneously. Also my assumption of fights between the earlier sacral-kings, basing their power on the ferytile earth and the sun-god and newer rulers having replaced this with a genealogical motivation, is supported by his results. I still claim, however, that the most probable is that the religious/political change is a precondition of changed economical circumstances for the people. Say e.g. a Gefolgschaft-king promising rich looting must have easier to recruit followers than the old sacral king who is not interested in letting his people get rich and hence loose his free labour. The old sacral-king disposes a lot of land whose yield goes to him and his family to the greatest part, while the rest living on the farm only get meager food and have no power. Furingsten notes a transition around 150 AD when he means we get a more individually centred religious opinion, where it is important to mark divisions between different individuals, and where a more spiritual under- standment of death has given way for a more bodily. (Furingsten 1985, p.179) This goes well along with the more individual achievements which the Odinistic warriors were proud of, in opposite to the more falangistic systems of warfare.


Charlotte Fabech treates another religious aspect, namely sacrifice-finds in Sweden from the Migration Period in Offerfundene fra Sosdala, Fulltofta og Vennebo. Eksemplerpa rytternomadiske riter og ceremonier udfi&rt i sydskandinaviske jernaldersamfund. She initially tells that the examination involves 38 South- Scandinavian finds with more than 30000 artefacts, from which material she has isolated those finds, that can not be regarded as war-boot-sacrifice finds. Among else the Sjörup-find she regards as a bride-silver depot comparable with a number of Danish finds. Concerning the finds in Sösdala and Fulltofta in Skåne and Vennebo in Västergötland (treated above after the last excavations by Nordqvist) she understands these as rests after a death cult which belonged to the burial-rituals within certain South-Swedish territories.The referred finds all contain harnessand saddle-equipments from the first half og the 5th c. (Fabech 1987, p.256— 276; 1991 b, p.104 f) Parallels are found in Eastern Europe like for example the finds in Cosoveni and Untersiebenbrunn.(Forssander 1937, p.205 ff) The Sösdala find consists of fittings belonging to head-harnesses and saddles to at least two head-harnesses and five saddles, sorted by function in five pits and covered with an earth-layer of a showel-deep's thickness. Four of these pitswere found within an area of c:a 12 m2, Sösdala I. The pits probably have been covered by a stonesetting, where a lance-tip from the middle of the 5th c., which is part of the find, is supposed to have been lying. 60 meters from the other area the fifth pit, Sösdala II, was situated. The fittings are in manty cases broken and ripped off but they have not been exposed to fire. Human and animal bones are lacking in the material. Fabech therefore considers that it can not deal with graves. This in spite of the fact that it is only 100 m to the great creamation-grave-field in Vätteryd. She remarks that characteritics for the finds in Sösdala, Fulltofta and Vennebo is that they are dug down in gravel-ridges close to lakes or bogs, and that the deposition all the time is in round pits close to the surface. Graves on the other hand are found generally within a distance of 100-150 m. The dating embraces c.a 400-450 AD.(Fabech 1991 b, p.104 ff) She comments afterwards that it does not deal with war-boot-sacrifice since it is not laid down in wetlands but on the dry land but the objects however still are consciously destroyed. It is not, as in the case of bride-silver depots, a question of jewellery being cut asunder to serve as means of payment or raw-ware, but it deals with objects meant for practical use having been made unusable in the same manner as the finds in the danish bogs. Nor can the be understood as horse-gravessince there are no remains of horses. In such cases also the harnesses were still on the horses. (Fabech 1991 b, p.104 ff) Bnesides it may be noted that it does not appear saddle-equipment and weapons in European horse-gravesduring the period between the 4th to 6th cc. (Dabrowski 1975, p.179-197; Müller-Wille 1972, p.119-249)

About the above might be remarked concerning Vennebo that the new excavations have revealed, that it likely deals also with war-boot-sacrifice, and also bones of horses that are regarded as sacrificed have been found there. This however does not nessecarily outrule the estimation of Fabech which could maybe explain parts of the finds. It is now regarded as a cult-place for sacrifices and the lake is right now, 2003, being examined by marine-archaeologists of the Vanermuseum in Lidkoping to find possible artefacts on the bottom.

"Hunnic" burial-travel-sacrifices and a cultic centre in the Sosdala-area

She says that similar finds not exist in other parts of Scandinavia but well in Eastern and Central Europe. New Hunnic finds in e.g. Pannonhalma and re-evaluation of earlier finds in Szeged-Nagyzéksos have given insight in the burial-travel-rituals of the Huns.(Bona 1979, p.297-342 ; Tomka 1986, p.423-488) It deals according to I.Bona about so called cremation-fire finds (Scheiterhaufenfiinde) but Fabech calls them Burial-travel-sacrifices. These finds are characterised by a content consisting of richly adorned saddle- and harness-equipment, suits with attached golden decorations, weapons and possibly bronze vessels. Many of these items seem to be conciously destroyed and are both bowed and hurt from fire. They lie ground in one or several pits, and none of these show signs of a funeral.

Analogys to such ritual customs are known from later nomadic rider-peoples. It shows up that they, after the burial of an important man dressed in an expensive suit and with personal equipments, have eaten a funeral-meal which means that they ate one of his horses. The rests from this meal was thrown into or beside the fire where the horse had been prepared, together with parts of the horse- equipment and the extra weapons of the deceased. In this connection the objects often were hurt or burned. When the fire had burt down the remnants were gathered and placed in a ground pit, that the dead should have comfortable access to the equipment.(Fabech 1991 b, p.107 f)

Sosdala and the other finds can be dated to the first half of the 5th century, and hence during the Hunnic epoch. The similarities are too great to disregard, and so you must assume that these finds are from humans, who in one way or anotherhave been in close contact with the Huns during this period. Fabech claims it is connected with the horse as an indicator of power and prestige. She means that it through the Sosdala-group is possible to indicate connections between South-Sweden and Central Europe which also include religious rites and ceremonies. She suggests that the Heruls as a tribe which both in Skåne and in Vastergotland might have had experience of such ceremonies. (Fabech 1991 b, p.108 f) She writes:

This tribe, whose origin both by Procopius and Jordanes is placed in Scandinavia, moved from the 3rd c. to the beginning of the 6th century between several places in South- and Central Europe, where they among else earned their living as mercenaries with the Huns. Remarkable, however, in this connection is that they,according to the sources, during all these years kept the contact with Scandinavia, where to some of them finally returned in the 6th c. (Lindqvist1945; Coste & Ritthaler 1966; Wolfram 1980; Näsman 1984, p.107 ff) Even if it is not possible to localise the home of the Heruls via archaeological finds, the stories show that Scandinavian peoples during long periods were present in several locations in Europe, and that they had close relations to the Huns. Relations which in time, like with the Goths, can have resulted in a partial nomadisationof their life-style. If this is the case it is natural that certain nomadic myths and rituals were taken over, even if this not nessecarily must have included the religious ideological base of the Huns. That the overtaken habits specially are connected with horses is not confusing if you consider, that war was the base of the community of this people, and that specially the horse was the base for e.g. the successful expansion of the Huns. A success that rested on the unequaled capability of the nomadic cavallery to cover vast distances very rapidly combined with their discipline and organisation and the use of the most feared weapon in that time—the reflex-bow. (Fabech 1991 b, p.109)

She accordingly regards the Sösdala group as an archaeological evidence of the great mobility of some Scandinavian peoples during the Migration Period. She means the finds point towards the Continent, and that they suggest that in the 5th century lived people in South-Sweden with deep relations to Eastern- and Central Europe. People who through their own or their relatives' service as mercenaries with Sarmatians and Huns had achieved some of the skills, customs and rites of the rider-nomads. These persons also belonged to the top stratum in society, which is demonstrated by the quality of the find-objects. The topography of Sweden—a net of woods, lakes, rivers—has not been inviting for a cav- allery, and hence a nomadic life-style has not been able to keep when returning to South-Sweden, but the very fact they mastered the art of riding and the related discipline might have resulted in the introduction of the horse as an outstanding ideal among the ideals forming the base of the South-Swedish society. South-Sweden shows several contemporary finds of horse-equipments. Here she refers to the area between Ö.Ringsjön and Finjasjön in Skåne as a direction- mark. Within an area of c:a 30 x 15 km from this centre similar finds have been made in Sjörup, Tormestorp, Sösdala, Ankhuk, Göingeholm, Fulltofta and Vätteryd. The finds, who are unique in the Swedish archaeological material and who all can be dated to the 5th c. The connection to the continent is also demonstrated by the contemporary South-East-Swedish art of bracteates, equipped with broad fringe-bands and/or plastical face-masks as on the

Gratianus-medal in the Szilagy-Somlyo—treasure from Transsylvania. (Fabeci 1987, p.294; 1991 b, p.109 ff)

She concludes:

The concentrated localisation of all these places with Central- European influences point according to my opinion on the existence of a central place. An idea already T. J. Arne suggestedin 1937 in his examination of the Goingeholm-find: "The occurance of the rich finds in V.Goinge and Frosta harads, in the middle of Skåne, suggest in my opinion the existence of a Migration Period realm, whose closer size presently is not possible to decide." (Arne 1937: 94-95) Maybe here is a place of the same character as Gudme on Funen (Thrane 1985); but also with relations to the Continent of a kind which not only has put it's traces in the material culture, but, regarding the burial-travel-sacrifice finds from among else Sosdala, also in the spiritual.

Sacral and political centra

The above indeed is a fascinating suggestion. Still a possible cult-place, a Gudhem-place, and a presumed realm of the Migration Period which, like earlier given examples, rests on a sacral ground. In this example we alsocan sense that it is not only 03inn being on march forwards in the Scandinavian milieu, but also cultic influences from the Huns are parts of the mixture. It undeniably gives a certain credibility to a possible connection of the decorations on the golden necklace-collars to among else the Hunnic art, but the Celtic influences remain alongside. There is evidently a rather spread synchretism within both cultic use and specially the art-craft during this period. Add to this all the excavations ofVifot in Uppåkra outside Lund in Skåne in 1934 and the very rich finds which have appeared in the excavations 1996-97. The cultural layers stretch from the birth of Christ to around 1000 AD. Berta Stjernquist connects directly to a powerpoliti- cal-centre based on sacral power. (Stjernquist 1996) After excavations during the spring and summer in 1997 it has been found approximately 2500 objects from the time aorund the beginning of our time-reckoning and up to the Viking Time.(Hårdh 1997, pers. com.)

Herules or Goths?

What confuses me is the strong locking of Fabech on the Heruls, and the only and short mentioning of the Goths. This is indeed during the period the Greutungi with allied tribes are ruled by the Huns- the Gothic kings in the East are petty-kings under the Huns. The Heruls, as allies of the Greutungi, are in the same situation. It is however still a stronger connection between the Greutungi as a unit and Scandinavia, and their old realm stretches all the way up to Balticum and the Finnish border, and that realm now formally is controlled by the Huns. The Heruls are stuck down in Ukraine east of the Greutungiand close to the Black Seaup to the middle of the 5th century. The direct contacts between Scandinavia and Eastern Europe should naturally be with the Greutungi and their Hunnic superiors—earlier of course also with Vesi-Tervingi in Dacia. The Vittene-find on the contrary connects with the southward migration before the division. Both during the Hunnic period and after it's termination when the sons of Atilla were defeated by the Gepids there should have been intensive and close contacts between the Scandinavians and their Gothic kins, and it also is told in popular lore of the Hunahär, the Hunnic army, which might refer to East-Goths returning to Scandinavia. This should have happened around the middle of the 5th

c.or possibly already after 375 AD, since not all Greutungi/Eastgoths with allies submitted to the Huns but instead they fled. Timely such a context fits quite well. The finds in the latest excavations in Finnestorp and Vennebo indeed strengthens this connection since it is specifically in Västergötland the Hunahär is referred to.

The demography of Västergötland

Carl Löfving estimates in an article in Populär Arkeologi 1988, which builds on his licentiate dissertation, Befolkning, information och infytande. Administrativa möjligheter öster om Skagerrak/Kattegatt före medeltiden 1986, that for the time soon before year 1000 there is a population-density of 1-2 persons/km2 and a total population in present West-Sweden of c:a 50 000 persons. He claims that the social structure at this time was founded on kinship, and that there were parallel systems. One consisting of local units with farmers being part of a conti- nously changing system of chieftains and over-chieftains, and a pirate-society which embraced great distances but did not control areas between their units.These were preferingly situated in connection to oceans and gretater waterways, and their members supported themselveson piracy and goods-exchange in richer parts of Northern Europe. He accordingly talks about the Vikings. The main-body of the population lived on cultivation and cattle-breeding complemented with hunting and fishing. Burn-beating occured. The distance between the settlements was in average a couple of kilometers. The habitations were moved within the territory of the family/kin-unit after some generations. Wareexchange existed over greater distances within the pirate-society. Information was conveyed orally and by means of the human memory. Runic writing was not used for administrative aims. Constructed roads for long distances were missing. The religion was not uniform. In the farmers society gods promoting the crops and the fertility were adored while in the pirate-society they worshipped gods furthering luck in war and assured slain warriors a comfortable afterlife. The kingdom was not territorially fixed and the king did not have a permanent administration. The power of a king exclusively depended on his followers who he attracted through demonstrating bravery, military competence and generosity—the giftsociety of Hedeager. The juridical system lacked executive organs who could execute decisions. Private property in our sense was lacking—i.e. the Roman law was still not applicated. West-Sweden was still around year1000 a fragmented society. A roadless and wooded landscape with a population mainly consisting of pagan analphabetics, whose habitations were spread with a couple of kilometer's distance. The archaeological material does not indicat any extensive contacts with the world around. These circumstances make that it is nessecary to question if it even was possible to rule units in the size of landscapes with a population living under such conditions.

This hesitation becomes, still according to Löfving, still more motivated with the background, that culturally more developed countries asthe Frankish realm and England during the Early Middle Ages lacked permanent hierarchical ruling- systems. He points out that such international contacts which he searches are found in the mouth of the Oslofjord and in Denmark, and that there exist well developed power-structures there. (Löfving 1988)

The above-standing is a characteristic of West-Sweden around year 1000, and the ruling-system Löfving calls for is a well developed medieval feudal system with responsible vassals and a strong central power. He here accordingly is speaking of a formation of a country which we all know first happened in Denmark and Norway. The conditions 5-600 years earlier were not the same, and, what the lack of international archaeological finds concerns, Löfving evidently has not read his home-work—in any case not the one about the Migration Period—but concerning the time around 1000 Löfving is correct in claimimg there is no national unity. There are however heaps of contacts, also archaeologically indicated, with Denmark and Norway. He admits himself that the thegnar (thanes) might have been Danish vassals and mentiones also Knut the Great, and in his later doctorial dissertation Gothia-Dansk/engelskt skattland, Göteborg 2001, he even claims that Västergötland was more or less totally controlled by the Danes and that the Swedish king was petty-king under the Danish. He also notes the fight between Irish/English and German mission. Rune-stones besides talk of voyages in both east and west and he does not at tall mention the oldest rune-stones and specially not the Sparlösa-stone. He claims that the original units in West-Sweden, before the church and the central kingdom, should have been "local inhabited territories—local units— of a couple of hundred km2". Västergötland at this time was an area with strong Danish influenceduring certain periods, but the pagan analphabets in a roadless and wooden landscape is indeed much to exaggerated. Just at this time in fact the formation of the country started righ in Västergötland. His reasoning in any case gives a certain plausibility to doubt a grand-scale political and administrative organisation in Västergötland in the 5th century. A number of more local power-centra however well fit into the frame of his theories, but his remark on pagans shows that he has no understanding of the importance of a sacral legitimation of power in such a local society, which indeed for the farmers is the decisive whether to obey this ruler or not, and it is as decisive in connection with the warrior-cult for the loyalty of the warriors. Wether Löfving considers the last mentioned stratum as belonging to the "pirate-society" or to "farmers included in a continously changing system with chieftains and over-chieftains" is unclear. He does not seem to understand that these both "societies" are undissolvably integrated into each other and are one and the same. He consequently in his analysis takes no consideration to the connection between the sacral and the secular power before Christianity, but later he claims just this very connection but he disregards that the legal right of private property is a consequence of the Roman law, and that this par definition not could exist before the introduction by the church.


Also in Norway there are clear indications connecting the area with the Continent. On a glass-vessel of Greek origin from Jæren from the Migration Period there is inscribed
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