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

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).