History of Finland between 1500 BC - 501 BC
The Bronze Age began some time after 1500 BCE. The coastal regions of Finland were a part of the Nordic Bronze Culture, whereas in the inland regions the influences came from the bronze-using cultures of Northern and Eastern Russia. The question of the time lines for the evolution and the spreading of the contemporary languages is controversial, and new theories challenging older postulations have been introduced continuously. According to the recently most widespread presumption, Finno-Ugric (or Uralic) languages were first spoken in Finland and the adjacent areas during the (typical) Comb Ceramic period, around 4000 BCE at the latest. During the 2nd millennium BCE these evolved – possibly under an Indo-European (most likely Baltic) influence – into proto-Sami (inland) and proto(-Baltic)-Finnic (coast). However, this theory has been increasingly contested among comparative linguists. It has been suggested instead that the Finno-Ugric languages arrived in Finland later, perhaps only during the Iron Age. The Finnish language is thought to have started to differentiate during the Iron Age starting from the 1st centuries AD onwards.
Cultural influences from all points of the compass are visible in the Finnish archeological finds from the very first settlements onwards. E.g. archaeological finds from Finnish Lapland suggest the presence of the Komsa culture. The Sujala finds equal in age with the earliest Komsa-artefacts from Norway but may suggest also a connection to the Swiderian culture. South-Western Finland belonged to the Nordic Bronze Age, which may be associated with Indo-European languages and according to Finnish Germanist Jorma Koivulehto speakers of Proto-Germanic language in particular. Artefacts found in Kalanti and the province of Satakunta, for long monolingually Finnish, and their place-names have made several scholars argue for an existence of a proto-Germanic speaking population component a little later, during the Early and Middle Iron Age. Old Norse-speaking population settled parts of Finland's coastal areas in the 12th to 13th centuries. Swedish language differentiated from the eastern Norse dialects by the 13th century. During the subsequent Swedish reign over Finland particularly the coastal areas witnessed waves of settlement from Sweden.
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.