Re: The Battle of Illerup, Goths, Eruli
--- In gothic-l@y..., "Bertil Haggman" <mvk575b@t...> wrote:
I just would like Bertil´s and other listmembers opinion that this
was, as said in the article, a scandinavian coalition. The only
coalition I can think about at this time, mentioned in Beowulf, is
Hygelac´s assault on the frisians. An attempt to push down west-
germanic expansion to the south. One of many battles who made it
possible for the danes to reconquer south Jutland and the smaller
islands from frisians, heruls etc. It doesn´t necessary has to be a
westswedish-danish war, maybe it was more complicated than that!
Friendly greetings from
> From the original homepage of the Illerup finds of weapon
> this further indicates relations with the Goths and the Eruli
> (see my short introductory review of _Odin in Azov_
> (to be published on the list).
> Bertil Haggman
> FINDS OF WEAPON OFFERINGS FROM ILLERUP ADAL
> By Joergen Ilkjær
> The river valley called Illerup Adal was drained in 1950, revealing
> weapon finds from the Iron Age. Since then the site has been
> during two periods, 1950-56 and 1975-85, and the past decade has
> seen the publication of eight of a planned series of 14
> the finds made.
> The current consensus of opinion is that the Illerup finds are
spoils of war
> offered to the gods. A local army appears to have defeated an
> force, whose weapons were then cast into the lake covering the site
> finds at that time. In excess of 15,000 weapons and pieces of
> from the period 200-500 AD have been excavated, making it the most
> comprehensive find of its type anywhere in the world.
> RESEARCHERS PAST AND PRESENT
> Not that Illerup Adal is the only site where such war spoils have
> there are in fact 50 other sites throughout Denmark and southern
> Some of these were excavated during the 19th century and have
> starting point for all later attempts to interpret similar finds.
Around 1940, two
> different theories were current regarding bog finds: one
interpreted the finds
> as being offerings made of items gathered together after a
> engagement; the other posited that the finds had been cast into the
> many years and as such represented small annual offerings of the
> own equipment. Unfortunately, it was not possible to determine
which of the
> theories was correct, as the early excavations were insufficiently
> It was not until new evidence was uncovered through the more recent
> Illerup Ådal that the question could finally be resolved.
> EXCAVATIONS AND FINDS
> A total of 15,000 weapons and pieces of military equipment were
> excavated from an area measuring 40,000 m2. It was often the case
> that bundles of items were found, these having originally been
> in some type of cloth. However, after 1,800 years the material has
> away, and only the weapons and equipment remain.
> All told, four different offerings have been identified in Illerup
> article, however, deals with the oldest and largest-scale offering,
> from the early years of the 3rd century. Much work has been
> creating the following reconstruction of the course of events
> to the offering.
> A fleet of perhaps 50 ships and 1,000 men set sail from the west
> of the Scandinavian peninsula and made its way down through
> to attack Jutland. The force landed on the east coast of Jutland,
> met by a well-organised army made up of forces from the entire
> The defensive action proved successful: the attackers were
> and their equipment and weapons were collected and destroyed. The
> remnants of the weapons and equipment were then thrown into the
> in Illerup Adal as an offering. It is not clear exactly where the
battles in this
> campaign took place, but presumably not too far away from the lake.
> Prior to the offering, items were deliberately spoilt. Swords were
> across and shields smashed. The round items are shield bosses, torn
> of the wooden shields and then deformed by cuts and blows.
> Part of the ceremony involved destroying the weapons and equipment.
> Next, the remnants were gathered into bundles, which were wrapped
> various forms of cloth - military cloaks, for example. The bundles
> carried out onto the lake in boats and thrown overboard. These
> have been found all over the bed of the lake, which was 250 meters
> and 400 meters long.
> During the course of 18 years (spread over two periods), these
> bundles and their contents of swords, spears, lances, shields,
> combs, Roman silver coins, bridles, tools and much more were
> one by one after having spent as much 1,800 years in the sediment
> lake. The finds were brought to the Moesgard Museum, preserved,
> sorted, and then compared with similar material from as far afield
> Black Sea, Scotland, Africa and the Arctic.
> The Illerup finds are exceptional, because of both their sheer
quantity and their
> condition. The alkaline nature of the soil has preserved iron so
well that two
> hundred Roman swords, for example, could be used today had they not
> ceremoniously broken and bent prior to being cast into the lake.
> PIECING TOGETHER THE JIGSAW
> The excavation teams found more than one thousand fragments of
> destroyed weapons which it has been possible to match up. If, for
> fragments from the same sword have been found in two different
> is concluded that these were offered on the same occasion.
> One of the most important questions (i.e. whether the weapons were
> on one particular occasion or whether they constitute a series of
> offerings) could now be solved by piecing together the fragments of
> items. If, for example, parts of a broken sword could be found in
two or more different
> bundles, then clearly these bundles must have been part of the same
> ceremony. Researchers have now succeeded in putting together more
> thousand fragments, and consequently it is now known that in excess
> thousand items were cast into the lake on one particular occasion
at the beginning
> of the 3rd century AD.
> It is now also clear that the Illerup find is made up of the
material from four different
> offerings in exactly the same place but with as much as a hundred
> each ceremony. It seems clear, therefore, that it was the local
population that carried
> out the ceremonies. But who was the enemy?
> Light has been shed on this question by studying the personal
property of the attacking
> warriors. 150 tinder boxes and combs from the oldest Illerup
ceremony show that the
> attacking forces had sailed from the west coast of the Scandinavian
> from modern-day Norway and the adjoining regions of western Sweden
> After years of research it is now possible, in the light of the
finds from Illerup Adal, to
> reconstruct harness and other equipment for horses and the
equipment used and worn
> by the warriors of the time. In the longer term, it will be
possible to create a detailed
> picture of the defeated army whose equipment made up the offering.
> AN ARMY OF THE ROMAN IRON AGE
> The sacrifices appear to have consisted of all of the army's
equipment and, even
> though we have only excavated 40 per cent of the oldest site, it is
> now possible to begin to describe the makeup of this army and in
> gain an impression of the political structure that led to its being
> the first place.
> A red-painted shield with a boss crafted in silver and gold; this
splendid item of
> equipment was the property of the commander of an enemy army. Runic
> name several such persons.
> These masks of gold-plated silver were crafted in Scandinavia, and
prove that as
> early as 200 AD smiths were able to use embossed foil techniques,
> and soldering.
> Work on the shields has shown that there were three levels in the
> a top tier, represented by five shields whose bosses are fashioned
of gold and
> silver; a tier of about 40 with shields with bronze bosses; and a
level of around 300
> who had shields with iron bosses. Comparisons with other finds from
> period confirm this division. The size of the attacking force means
that it must have
> been put together from a significantly large geographic area, which
makes it likely
> that it was formed as the result of a military alliance. The
existence of such an alliance
> must in turn reflect the political conditions prevalent on the
> during this period.
> As already mentioned, Illerup is not an isolated phenomenon, in
that we know of similar
> offerings made from the same period in all the areas boundering on
> offering of spoils of war tells us of historical events not
mentioned in written sources.