Early Iron Age

History of Denmark between 500 BC - 400 AD

The Early Iron Age in Denmark covers the period from 500 BC until 400 AD and is divided into three periods: Pre-Roman or Celtic Iron Age (500 - 1 BC), Early Roman Iron Age (1 - 200 AD) and Late Roman Iron Age (200 - 400 AD).

In the time around 500 BC people began to extract iron from local deposits. People were no longer dependant on bronze from distant areas of Europe. In addition, iron was a much stronger and more suitable metal for weapons and tools. The farmers in the Early Iron Age lived together in small, fenced villages. That it was not always peaceful and friendly though is testified by the weapon offering from Hjortspring Mose. You can also read more about the woman from Huldremose, who was laid in the bog dressed in her finest clothes.

A new metal, silver, appeared in the time around the Birth of Christ. The large silver cauldron from Gundestrup is a good example of this. At the same time the Romans invaded large parts of western Europe. The Roman Empire’s proximity led to significant cultural and social changes in Denmark. In the princely graves from Hoby and Himlingøje you can see the result of the meeting with the Roman Empire.

Reference: National Museum of Denmark

Popular sites founded between 500 BC and 400 AD in Denmark

Lindholm Høje

Lindholm Høje (Lindholm Hills) is a major Viking burial site and former settlement situated to the north of and overlooking the city of Aalborg. The southern (lower) part of Lindholm Høje dates to 1000 – 1050 AD, the Viking Age, while the northern (higher) part is significantly earlier, dating back to the 5th century AD. An unknown number of rocks were removed from the site over the centuries, many, fo ...
Founded: 400 - 1050 AD | Location: Nørresundby, Denmark

Gudme

In the Late Roman Iron Age numerous farms made up a settlement near Gudme in the south-east of Funen. In the undulating landscape near Gudme lake, around 5 km from the Great Belt coast, Gudme’s heyday began in the 3rd century AD. This is a time in which the Roman Empire’s expansion and connections to the north are clearly reflected by the many finds from the area. The settlement reached its maximum size in the ...
Founded: 200 AD | Location: Gudme, Denmark

Troldborg Ring

Troldborg Ring is a circular stronghold located on a hill crest, 70 meters above the Vejle river valley. It was surrounded by a rampart, which was 60 meters in diameter. The castle was built in the Iron Age, around 100-200 AD, and was used until the 5th century AD.
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Bredsten, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.