Roman Iron Age

History of Sweden between 0 AD - 399 AD

The Roman Iron Age (1-400) is the name that Swedish archaeologist Oscar Montelius gave to a part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Netherlands. The name comes from the hold that the Roman Empire had begun to exert on the Germanic tribes of Northern Europe. Therefore, the preceding part of the Iron Age is called the Pre-Roman Iron Age, which had grown out of the Nordic Bronze Age. The age that followed the Roman Iron Age is called the Germanic Iron Age or the Age of Migrations.

In Scandinavia, there was a great import of goods, such as coins (more than 7,000), vessels, bronze images, glass beakers, enameled buckles, weapons, etc. Moreover, the style of metal objects and clay vessels was markedly Roman. Objects such as shears and pawns appear for the first time. In the 3rd century and 4th century, some elements are imported from Germanic tribes that had settled north of the Black Sea, such as the runes. There are also many bog bodies from this time in Denmark, Schleswig and southern Sweden. Together with the bodies, there are weapons, household wares and clothes of wool. Great ships made for rowing have been found from the 4th century in Nydam Mose in southern Denmark.

The prime burial tradition was cremation, but the third century and thereafter saw an increase in inhumation. Through the 5th century and 6th century, gold and silver become more and more common. This time saw the ransack of the Roman Empire by Germanic tribes, from which many Scandinavians returned with gold and silver. A new Iron Age had begun in Northern Europe, the Germanic Iron Age.

Rerefences: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 0 AD and 399 AD in Sweden

Ismantorp Fortress

Ismantrop is an ancient fortress, which was used probably between years 300-500 AD. The ringfort consists of a limestone wall approximately 300 meters long and has nine gates. Inside the ringfort were 95 houses arranged in 12 blocks around a central open area with a circular building. Ismantorp is the largest and probably the oldest of the ringforts on Öland. The first written description of Ismantorp dates back to the ...
Founded: 300-500 AD | Location: Borgholm, Sweden

Hovgården

Hovgården is an archaeological site on the Lake Mälaren island of Adelsö. During the Viking Age, the centre of the prospering Mälaren Valley was the settlement Birka, founded in the mid-8th century and abandoned in the late 10th century and located on the island Björkö just south of Adelsö. Hovgården is believed to have been the site from where kings and chieftains ruled the area. ...
Founded: ca. 100-1520 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Greby Grave Field

The Greby grave field is an Iron Age grave field in western Sweden. With its over 180 graves, it is the largest site of this kind in Bohuslän. According to legends, Greby is the resting place of the Scottish warriors who once pillaged Tanum. However, in June 1873, Swedish archaeologist Oscar Montelius examined eleven of the graves and did not find any weapons, only glass pearls, bone combs and other everyday objects, som ...
Founded: 1 - 400 AD | Location: Tanum, Sweden

Helgö

The island of Helgö is probably best known for a major archaeological area. The old trading town on Helgö began to emerge around the year 200 AD, 500 years before the well-known Birka. The first archaeological excavaton in 1954 found not only remains of the early settlement, but also a workshop area that became of international interest. Among the finds were a small Buddha statuette from North India and a christening s ...
Founded: 200 AD | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Onbacken

Onbacken was a complete Iron Age environment dating approximately from 100-500 AD. You can see the foundation for a “long house” (contained dwelling, barn and storage), nine tombs and part of another foundation. On Onbacken lived a large family of three generations (12-15 people). They lived by animal husbandry, farming, fishing and hunting.
Founded: 100-500 AD | Location: Bollnäs, Sweden

Påarp Burial Ground

Påarp is the largest ancient burial ground in Halland. There are 220 barrows, cairns and stone settings. The largest one is 30m wide and 2m high. Archaeologists have dated the site to the Iron Ages (built between 0- 400 AD).
Founded: 0 - 400 AD | Location: Halmstad, Sweden

Trullhalsar Burial Field

Trullhalsar is a very well-preserved and restored burial field dating back to the Roman Iron Ages (0-400 BC). There are over 340 different kind of graves like round stones ("judgement rings"), ship settings, tumuli and a viking-age picture stone (700 AD).
Founded: 0-400 AD | Location: Katthammarsvik, Sweden

Fjäle Fields

Fjäle fields have long history. The Fjäle farm was established c. 100 AD, and remains of two large iron age houses are still visible on the site. After 7th century AD the large iron age houses were replaced with smaller ones not far away from the old houses. During the 12th century a smaller farm was separated from the main farm, and set up in the northern end of the peoperty. The farms were burnt down during 14th centu ...
Founded: 100 AD | Location: Katthammarsvik, Sweden

Seby Burial Ground

Seby is one of the largest burial grounds in Öland including 285 graves and stone settings. It was founded in the Roman Iron Age and used until the Viking Ages. The site consists for example of stone ship settings, cairns and tridents. There is a significant runestone located one kilometer to the south of Seby. The inscription says “Ingjald, Näf and Sven let to erect this stone as a memorial to their fa ...
Founded: 300-500 AD | Location: Degerhamn, Sweden

Domarringen Burial Ground

Domarringen stone circle Skärholmen is a burial site dating from the Bronze Age to Iron Ages. The outer circle was removed in 1960s, but the inner one still exists. The existing circle consists of nine stones and is 12m wide. The outer one was about 50x100m. There are about 80 graves in the area from the 3th century AD to the 8th century. Arcaeologists have found several cheramic items, bones, iron key and bronze jew ...
Founded: 200 - 750 AD | Location: Skärholmen, Sweden

Torsburgen Fortress

Torsburgen was the largest ancient fortress in Northern Europe. It was originally constructed at the beginning of the 1st century AD. It was reinforced during the 4th century and used until c. 1100 AD. A timber-laced stone rampart encircles an area of 12 hectares. Scholars estimate that nearly 1000 soldiers would have been needed to defend it and it could have been providing refuge to the entire population of Gotland that ...
Founded: 100-1100 AD | Location: Katthammarsvik, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.