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

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.