History of Latvia between 2000 BC - 1 BC
In about 2000 BC a new wave of colonists flowed into the Baltic area from the South. They settled down in East Prussia, Lithuania and Southern Latvia. This invasion continued in the Bronze Age (1500—500 BC) and the older Iron Age (500—0 BC). During these periods two cultural routes are playing a great part in the development of Baltic culture. One of these leads over East Prussia to Central Europe, the other across the sea to Scandinavia.
Some forms of graves, tools, arms, and burial customs lead one to suppose that the continuous development of these prehistoric cultural forms of the Baltic is sufficient to prove that the bearers of this civilization were the forefathers of the present Baltic nations. Thus, the ethnic history of these people can be traced back to about 2000 BC.
At the beginning of our era the common original Baltic culture had already branched into the Western (later Borussian or Ancient Prussian) and Eastern (later Lithuanian and Latvian) cultures. Even in that age, as is shown by archaeology and linguistics, the relations in culture and trade between the Balts and the Finno-Ugrians were considerable and close. At any rate, this development took place some time before the Teutons established direct contact with both races.
The Bronze Age (1500–500 BC) witnessed the transition from an economy based on food procurement to one based on food production. Stock-keeping and agriculture became increasingly important. In the Older Iron Age (500 BC - 0 AD), the first iron objects came into use.
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.