Anglo Saxon ideas
In a time without national states we have to include all countries in a cultural area to see the culture. That means not only the Scandinavian countries but also the lands south of the Baltic, the countries Friisia and Netherlands and of course the Anglo Saxons
Scandinavian ancestors, Cesar, Barbarians, Celts, place names, by-law, witan, the Vi, World Pole, Irminsul, harg, heorg, Holy Oak, Celtic Trinity, Danelaw, Isle of Man, Olof the Holy, house guest, Edda gods, Oxen, multi-culture, Tyr, Loke, Odin, Thor, Frey
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The interest for the time before the Vikings has been very low in Scandinavia as well as in England. The sources are few and have been hidden in university libraries and other places. Now with Internet it has been easier to get the basic sources at low cost and little time. All my writing is creating synthesis and I am not always going as deep as I want. I have to choose what I manage to do in my lifetime. We have also to leave open for coming facts in the future.
The analysis of the old sources has been very poor and the investigators have bought the written words as such. The conclusions would not stand in a real court where the rule is "rather free than accuse if the facts are too uncertain". Another doom rule is about challenge and one's enemy is no good witness. In history we work with long time span and we should look out carefully for instance when Orosius living in 5th century AD tells us about happenings 500 years earlier. It could only be rumours and gossip or that he has copied earlier writers.
OurScandinavian ancestors according to the Greeks and Adam of Bremen. Tacitus' Oxion = "male head and bull body" is out in the meadows. The Norse has put the One-eyed giant into Dowrefjell
We have also the tele-effect in history that means near history could be seen but the truth fade out with distance in time and space. It is the same dynamic law as in thermodynamic where the effects of a source fade out with the square of distance. That is why the Greeks and Romans and even Adam of Bremen tell about odd beings as people with bull body and human head, one-eyed, one-footed, head in stomach, dog-headed and maybe more. It would be better if they said that they do not know. Such things diminish the reliability of the writer as source for far places.
Cesar and his book "De Bello Gallica" 58 BC is often seen as history but it is in fact politics. He was the first we know to use the word "German" about people north of the Rhine. He was forced to write unfavourable about the enemies. In fact many Roman writers did that and scared the Romans off and created a fierce attitude. They created the Devil in Germany by themselves. A few occasions feed that fear such as the Cimbri and Teutoni around 110 BC, the slaughter in Teutoburgerwald and Queen Boudica's slaughter in England.
All this began with the Greeks using the disparaging word "Barbarians" that still is going strong in the Academic Worlds. The Greeks called them "Celts" the people north of them in Greece and Massillia France. The Greek trade and culture and later the Romans whipped out the commonness in culture in the Mediterranean compared with rest of Europe. But "Celt" is the only word we can use and that is not a question of ethnic and race but about the culture Europeans have in common from Anatolia to the Atlantic.
If we only copy the political texts of Cesar and others we are not writing about science and people of the time. Then we are practising cultural imperialism and use Roman eyes. Literally we tramp on our own feet and see us as barbarians instead of seeing and maybe defending the deeds of our ancestors. I do not think it is in place to idolise Romans when we think of the fallen Roman Empire 1500 years ago. What did the Romans and the later empire of Charlemagne want of the north … I think "enslaving" is the appropriate word? We should use neutral reference if we need to valuate
It seems that science has not yet realised that ritual and social order has existed for 6000 year in the shapes we can see with time ritual leading the year. Still there was some order before that however it was not so common and consistent as when the megalith culture took power. The stony buildings stand there as reminders and as long as people knew the purpose the ideas lived.
Culture is always a process that follows climate, local technology and growth of population. The use of quasi-scientific words like "low and high culture" should be outdated since it has no real reference level. Only valid measurement is that the culture was sufficient and sustainable.
The English literate cultural sources are half a millennium older that the Scandinavian ones from 1000 - 1300 AD. Then we can use the Anglo Saxon sources for the Scandinavian society as well as we can use some of the Scandinavian sources for English culture from 500 AD onward. We also belong to the same West-Celtic culture with roots back to the megalith culture and it is often hard to date and find the original source. That means we should look at artefacts, place names, monuments and literary fragments to get substantial evidence.
It is meaningless to write normal biographic history about a period with no real literary culture and no continuous history. What use is it to know curiosity facts about kings and priests and warriors in the past? My interest lies in outlining the kind of society our ancestors used to survive and how much of the ancient structures we have in our culture today? We need to find what we have in common with people now and in the past instead of rising walls of preconceived ideas.
The life of the nobility would not tell about the normal life of majority of people. That was the life of peasants and their social order lies in the by-law and ritual astronomy and we find that in the early province laws and the earliest English or Anglo Saxon laws. Another thing is that nobility lived on farming however they owned several farms and set tenants or administrators on their properties that maybe included some industry in bronze, iron and whatever they could sell and barter with.
Anglo-Scandinavian place names
Let us first have a look at semi-literary sources like the place names that are stored in writing in many sources. The essay about theGolden Horns is a background to the Anglo-Saxons, I believe.
Science generally sees the "Scandinavian" place names in England as result of immigrating Vikings after ca 800 AD. It would be remarkable if the Anglo-Saxons left no sign in place names. Even the English and Celts before 477 AD should have left some place names, since it seems evident that the Anglo-Saxons did not kill everyone. Generally the land was sparsely populated and they could settle outside crowded areas. Probably there were also abandoned settlements after the Romans and after the internal wars.
Scandinavian language was a mix of old European Celtic I suppose and immigrants have influenced it in the past 6000 years. There were some differences between Old High Germanic - Gothic south of the Baltic and the Nordic in Denmark, South Sweden and coastal areas in Southern Norway. See the spread of thecruciform brooch. Some of the place names from before 477 AD were related to the culture in West Europe and it is hard to separate them from what we call Anglo Saxon heritage. As we shall see there is little difference between Anglo and Saxon culture.
Generally I use the separation of structure in words after the "syllable period" as follows. First part could be a prefix even in place names. Then we have the root that names the special feature that could be idol, idea or local feature. In the end of the word we have the suffix that in the oldest place names could be the dative, later cultural concept or latest the ideas about by-law organisation. It would be clear in the samples below. In the later group we find many concepts that could be dated relatively since we know when they were current.
Oldest root in the 6000-years timeline I use is the idea ofVI or English WEOH/ WIH Old Norse VÉ. We see it written in different manners. In Gothic WEIHS meant holy as well as place. In Old High German WIH means holy. In English and Old Nordic WITA = wise and WITAN = to know. The root WI / VI / WE is a syllable that is used in many words with some two-component or binary meaning. Wisdom and Holiness has a reference to something or include "two worlds", as our oldies would have said. The V-shape has of course two parts that point to the third.
We find it in place names like Stonton Wyville, Wyfordby, Wysall, Weedon, Weefordand Wellington however the last should maybe be the root "well" that was in centre of the Wih. I name it Celtic syllable order in English because they used it as prefix while in Scandinavia it is usually the suffix -vi. Often they have some pre-Christian god / idol name as root.
From normal maps we can pick 35 -VI-names in Denmark and 45 in Sweden and the suffix is the most common of the very old concepts in place names. In Denmark three VI has been saved as knowledge to our days. One of then was in Jelling at the first Danish king Gorms "graveyard" … seThe Vi. Then we know that it was a V-shaped place with the wing-rows made of small stones. We can guess that it was used when deciding time of the spring ritual. In the V there seem to have been a pole and a mound. That we shall also meet below.
Since we have V or wedge shaped megalith monuments we can draw its origin back to 4th millennium BC and even to the age of the slab cists in wedge shape. The V seems to symbolise the inlet to underworld as well as pointing toward the stars in a certain direction. The V-shaped monument is found for instance in the Alps, France, Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia. There are some signs that metallurgists were behind a type from around 2000 BC when the demand for copper and bronze rose and they were searching for metal everywhere.
Every size of a man made foundation in stone, turf, soil or woods become the centre of a settlement and the land implemented and claimed around it. It is a place of cultivation of the raw nature and we can call it civilisation of the soil, plants and animals involved. In fact it turns often manifold to onefold. Often we can connect astroritual and graveyard to such places. Then many nowadays want to see some cosmic spirituality in and at the places. However such things are hard to prove even with a crystal globe.
Since almost all people were farmers with "horse sense" it is better to see these foundations as practical places for deciding when to start the season. We meet it directly in next root /suffix STABLE / STOKE meaning pole = stapoll and it was surely centre of the village. Dunstable and Stableford as examples and to the same category we can add Stoke, Stoke by Nayland, Hinstock, Tavistock, Stoke on Trent.
The use of some local World Pole we know from the Celtic idea Irminsul, but I think that Italian Faesula / Paesole belongs to the same concept. I have seen some photo from Siberia beginning of 20th century where there was a pole in the village. Surely it was a good reference for time keeping at least when the sun is shining. Best known are the Egyptian obelisks nowadays even in Paris and Washington if I remember it right ... but they are "borrowed feathers" and few know the use.
In Dunkirk and Dunstable we have the root Dun- in the same way as in Swedish Tunhem and Tunby. This use of the idea could indicate that it is imported alternatively that it is Celtic word order at least in the case of Tunhem. English "dun" means hill or fortified place. In England and Ireland there are many old Celtic "oppida" that was fortified with walls and / or ditches. It was natural to build not only defence on hills but even settlements they build in higher places to avoid moisture and frost and get good draw in the fireplace. Naturally the nobility and merchants needed fenced and maybe fortified places for their goods.
Swedish "tun" means a fenced place within the settlement/ village. The first settlement made obviously fences for the night and for milking the cows and one of the original words is "hem" = home. Then the word "Tunhem" means "the fenced place in the corral". They fenced in the houses and the smaller gardens for vegetables. Even the fields of corn were fenced and it is one of the earliest codes in the by-law = place law.
The root TUN / DUN/ TON/ DON is probably the same as German "tun" and English "to do". Altering between "d and t" seems to be a matter of tongue/ dialect but in Scandinavian we see them as "weak and hard" stage of a meaning like some other sounds for instance "va and ba". In East Sweden we have many "-tuna" farm/ gaard and the additional suffix "-a" seems to define a dual tense and then an original pair-farm. In Gautland we have also the -a and even -ene, -ne as in Raade, Raadane and they sounds plural/ dual tense.
We can assume that suffixes like -ton and -ham were codified at in the middle of first millennium AD. Suffix -ton is often used in hybrids with a Celtic word that has root and suffix such as Donington, Pocklington, Darlinton, Wolsingham, and Nottingham. In Germany especially Rhineland and Scandinavia we have the suffix -ing and -inge together with cultural ideas / gods that could be the oldest layer of place names. It seems to be the dative suffix that tell "give in" and understood that the village lived in the name of the idol.
In the Anglo Saxon place names there are a lot with a Scandinavian root in -ton names. We have also the -ham suffix that sometimes is written "hamn" ( harbour) and the word is also used as synonym to "guise". It is just the abstraction of a hide or defined place.
The name Wigston could be seen as sanctified stone/ idol stone with the root Wi. There are many name on -stone in England as well as Scandinavia such as Maidstone, Kingstone, Bildstone (picture?), Thringstone and in Scandinavia Edsten (oath), Hovsten (hof place), Stenlille (little stone) and they are all concepts of their world order going back far ad 4000 BC.
We have a few "picture / bust stones" in West Europe and they were surely showing the idol of the village/ settlement. We know that tradition even from Middle East and maybe that was the original idea that gave place names. The older layer of place names have usually an idol / god or a name of the leader of the village.
Even the other "known" ritual concept harg / heorg we find in England such as Harrow on the Hill, Harrowden (in the toe). The "harrow seems to have been a fenced square as ritual places and maybe with stones or poles in pattern inside the square. To the same category belongs surely "stow" that seems have been some fence around the holy place as in Wistow, Wistanstow = the wi-stone in the fence. Penny Drayton write:
"The word stow invariably means a 'holy place' and is found throughout England. Most frequently this Old English element is joined with a saint's name - such as Wistow (Leicestershire) which is a shortening of Wistan or Wigstan's stow and is reputed to be the place of his martyrdom, although Wistanstow (Shrops) makes a less-justifiable claim. Edwinstowe (Nottingham) also takes its name from a chapel erected over the shrine of the king of Northumbria, killed in battle in 632AD" (Edvin is the smith idol.)
However the root seems to be cultural concepts like the We/ Wi sometimes with a stone or some other feature. That is more like a place where they gathered for meetings. Often we get the situation with more than one possibility. Here we learn that it was frequent before the period we traditionally name Viking Age after ca 800 BC.
We could add Halstow, West Stow and Langtoft Stowe to the use. Still it could also use the neutral "place" in these names from Old English and later times than the root. It is also used in the word "ceap-stow" that means place for cattle market and not always in use all the year.
The word "witan" have the root in "knowledge" which means that the lead of a folkland should be wise men. Witan could be synonym with the Nordic "hird" that was the court of the king. That has deep roots in Ionian culture where the High Priest or Alderman was elected among the nobility for a certain time. Our time want to see great warrior kings but in Celtic culture the leader generally was leader of ritual … yet we also elect "wise men" to the lead of our government for a period like the old Celtic thing order.
There are many signs of independent folklands with lawman, thegn, thane, taler (speaker) and alderman as the leader. We get some more evidence from the place names Matlock = Speaker's Oak, Speetley = Speaker's Grove, Wakegreave = root watch/ the village grove and we have several other names showing meeting place. The grove, holt or lund seems to have been sacred for Frey and housed the fertility idol with many names as for instance Cernunnos/ The horned one / Dagda/ Lord of animals with the incarnation asterism Perseus, which were stars of spring equinox ca 1800 BC. He often carries an open neckring that symbolises the year and spring is in the spark-gap. We have to remember that both domesticated cattle and the wild cattle were their main industry. The Old Irish myths are about the cattle raid.
There are several old Celtic "Drunemeton" from Phrygia to the Atlantic. That was a holy place in a grove with old words as holt, hult, lund, long and especially the Holy Oak. The legend of St Brigid tells she gathered young maidens under the Holy Oak in old style. That was at Cilldara / Kildara = the church under the oak. The oak could live for maybe a thousand years and around 600 species of life inhabit the old trees. Naturally there is some wisdom in that.
The pre-Church society was a manifold culture. The Norse build their own "hov/ hof" and it is difficult to know if it housed the old Celtic Trinity or an early Christian Trinity. The Arians rather used the open space as shrine with and maybe only symbolic fence. That is just continuity from the old holy places. The concept -low seems also belong to this category with maybe a symbolic mound as manifest … in some VI we see a mound too. Later mounds could be sanctified to an idol or mythic person. Some of the names we can understand but many are not intelligible for us. Even collective graveyards occur at the lows as in Derbyshire with 30 graveyards of which 11 have names like Baslow, Atlow (oath), Hucklow and Tidlow (time?)
Onslow, Wolferlow and Whittinglow could be from legend or myth while Peplow, Munslow and Purslow seems to be real names like Offlow. He was something between king and god and many places got name after him. In Scandinavia the corresponding suffix should be -lau, -lauv, leif and perhaps -lev that often have a male old pre Christian name.
They think that -lev means inheritance however in the collective society without registered owning they did not inherit land. The clan / family lived on the property for generations without end. It is more likely we should se "lev as loaf or bread" and then it is the dative telling the place gave in to the idol in the root. For instance Eslev where Es is an old Celtic idol or the word "es" points back to the understood or known idol/ deity.
We have evidence for the concept "village idol is manifested in stone" since some single standing stones or tri-heads/Trinity stones have been spared to our time. Many mounds have got an old god name as for instance Odin is buried in many places. However some of them could be late invention. We have also a lot of mounds with no burial at all, except maybe that some have in time been urn hill. Some churches are build near such a symbolic hill.
In my town there is a big hill where there have been more than 60 known small mounds and stony graves and possible urn graves we do not know about since the hill / mound was destroyed without excavation. In the five counties of the province there is a big mound in every centre as if for a time the mound was the ritual centre. It is very difficult to sort out the age of mounds and stone arrangements without excavation so we have to make guesswork with a few excavated places as model.
Orm and Drake are old ideas in astronomy we find in Drakelow, Dakenage, Drakeholes and Dragonby. The Dragon Eye and the Dragon Tail were used as limits for the eclipses in the Animal Round. On some calendar sticks we find symbols for the "rising and falling node" usually at the old half-year division when the moon is at the lowest. The orm = Worm = asterism Hydra = Womb of Earth in the heavenly myth we have in Wormwood, Ormesby, Walmsgate in Sweden we have Drakarve, Ormhult and Orminge, which seems to be old.
Viking Age suffixes can tell us about the organisation of the society in the by-law. The normal list contends -by, -thorp, -trop, or -thorpe, -toft, -tofts, -thwait or -thwaite, -holm or -holme, ness, kirk, borough, wick, and to that we can maybe find some more in place names with only the root.
Suffix -by is most frequent and it is mostly written BYR = BE UR in Norway and in Bohuslaen BOER / BUJAR = cattle-pen that we find in -loch, -hem, -ene and -wini and they are the reminder that domesticated cattle was the first and most important labour. Invention of specialised corn farms is a concept of our time. It is depending of selling the harvest and of having the distribution possibilities.
By tradition the concept "by-law" is core in Danelaw. That is the law of the village of peasants that are the majority. In the oldest province laws they speak about "law rooms". The law is about the order in "peasants law room". The by-law has rules for practical things and rituals during the season as for instance the "peace during the season". It is naturally more detailed than we can see from our ritual laws in rock carvings. The by-law was completed in pace with growth of population and needs.
Nobility was another law room however they were peasants too. We have the concept "ornum" that cut out the noble villages from the peasants law room. The word/ concept "birke" is used for the same but mainly for the early town/ continuous market place that was a special law room. However the early citizen got often the food from his own farm. In Denmark they still use "birke" for the town law.
Some scientist means that -thorp, thorpe, -trop is older than the Vikings and maybe we should say latest Vikings since they can be from the Anglo Saxon migration. The suffix -trop sounds Danish. The ending -e in thorpe may indicate dual. In the practise in Gautland we see that it was used for "intak" of the nobility outside the peasants law room. The principle of the village was the equally shared agriculture land and outside that the pasture land and farther out in Midgard the woods for building material, fire wood and what they could use from the forest.
Bigger villages were dividing the land in many small bits by allotment these bits to the members of the village every year. It was a way of getting equal shares. The system was in use until middle of 18th century in Scandinavia. In such big villages / by they surely needed the by-law to keep peace and as guaranty that everyone got his share.
There are some signs on rock carvings at Haugsbyn showing that they made shares of the land 3500 years ago. In Egypt and Sumer they also shared by lot the shares and that is way we see the idol/ king with a stick and rope in hand. Stick and rope were used until 1877 in measuring land here in Sweden.
We can speculate in the early meaning of thorp that could be of German origin compared even with "dorf". The root "thor = tor = door" associates both to Thor and in the astronomy Gemini = Thors hammer with short handle. Thor was the archetype ceremony master or leader of the by-law maybe so perhaps in some places he got a thorp. However possibly he had another name earlier or his profession was in the hands of Loke = idea of locking.
The ornum was divided in four with one part for the goddess and one for the leader and the other two were maybe tenant or "einbeiningar", i.e. tied with one foot to the ornum. Observe that even if the assumption is right we cannot generalise since such tings varies from folkland to folkland.
The suffix "holm" could be used even as single concept besides that it was used for an island too. Interesting here is that the legal idea occurs in England 400 - 700 years before the law of West Gautland from ca 1200 AD. Maybe the outtake of a "holm" from the village land originally was for the leader and later the noble man. That is because it pictures a separate island in farmland and it could be taken out of the village as for instance in my parish. That means there is a little difference compared with the torp normally taken from free forest or unclaimed land.
In my parish the former estate Holm gave name to the parish. It lies at the side of the early big collective village Raade. The village Raade was later divided in three big farms and smaller beside. There are several farms beside with the names Hjortungen, Lakungebyn and Holsungebyn. The suffix -unge was in use around 600 - 900 AD and it speaks for clans moving out from the big village. The second suffix -by we know from Viking Age
The concept "holm" was also used for the Nordic duel "envig" that should be hold at a "holme" = small island. That means in legal sense outside the normal law room where killing was forbidden. In the sagas these duels are normal but we do not have to believe that the sagas tell about reality.
To the same category belongs the very old international custom that traders and even visitors first time settled on an island ... as for instance Horsa and Hengest; also Augustinus settled on Thanet outside Kent and the Saxons at Isle of Wight outside Hampshire at their time. Then they sent their negotiator to the leader in the land for safe-conduct. In some cases maybe they sent scouts to see what kind of defence the land practised. For traders it could be wiser to keep the bartering at an island easier to defend and watch.
On Isle of Man we have the intach = intak in Gautlands law that was taken from commonage of the village and holm was taken from the village. It could be confusing when the word is also used for a piece of land looking as a holm, or the small island holm. "Allmenning" = commonage is an old idea and it was surely convenient to herd the cattle in common and to that they used a milking place or cattle-pen or loch and other synonyms.
On Isle of Man it is hard to say if the treens and quarterlands are Norse invention but we find the same at the Orkneys. In Scandinavia some of the provinces used trisection while other used quarterland and the ideas are maybe taken from the trisected moon year and the sun year division. With taxation and private property came the concept "mantal" where a thorp was 1/4 mantal and enough for the normal family. The mantal was then a normal village with 4 farms, but in fact a family clan could live at a thorp or 1/4 mantal.
From the Anglo-Saxon laws we learn that to become a thane the ceorl or merchant should own 5 hides. That would in these terms be a mantal / treen plus his own thorp. As late as in 16th century Gustav Vasa was codifying most of the things. The main measure was in 1/1 mantal here on Dal with few 1/2 mantal and hardly none 1/4 torp. Since he wanted many taxpayers he wanted to split up the clan villages and even the "Brother-farms" that were significant for this province.
The suffix -toft associates to Skaane and Zealand especially and we find it also as -tot in Normandy. Normally we get the impression of a piece of land outside the village and it corresponds to -set = Nordic "saeter" that was summer pasturage in mountains, woody hills and on islands. But is has also the meaning of "thwart" and we usually understand the rowers in pair and that is par of the brotherhood of sailors and Vikings. Then we think of something in pair and that count also for thwait and thwaite Nordic "tved" with the root "tve" meaning two or something split in two. Tveit / thwaite seems to be used especially in Southern Norway and neighbouring provinces like Bohuslaen and Dal. On Dal we see the nearness to Norway in many things since the Dal and Vermland sometimes belonged to Viken =South Norway = provinces around the Oslo fjord.
Borough, burgh, brough, bury is Nordic "borg" nowadays and it means "fortified place". The demand for fortification rose when they got goods to be protected and it is as old as the cities. In Europe it all began with the feudal nobility building castles in France. In sparsely populated places the fortification part dominated while in cities the city walls kept unwanted people outside. They controlled people in the "gateway" that was a concept even in temples.
The tax collector found a practical place whether it was taxes or offer to the deities. In time even a garrison got place in the city. The big civilisations created enclaves and factories at suitable places on the road to their raw material sources. For instance Troy has surely originally been a factory for trade and it grew to a fortified city enclosed by walls.
We have also the remains from early Celtic "oppida" that was fortified usually with wooden palisades and ditches. On Gotland and Auland we have the stony remains of several castles build in beginning of first millennium AD. But there are also numerous simpler fortification in South Scandinavia build for local people. Some of the bigger castles were in use even in 13th and 14th century. On Isle of Man the Norse seems to have build two castles each in one end of the island. The king preferred the southern as his nest.
Maybe we should make a distinction between country forts that were build in the first centuries AD in the rocky parts of Scandinavia and on the other hand the castle that became stronghold for the nobility. On Auland there is a castle from Roman Age and the shape speaks for castles at Balkan as model. They have even lately found something like a Roman bath.
In Scandinavia they build the strongholds later or from 11th century onward. It seems that some churches were build by the king for thing and a big steeple as storage and maybe as shelter when the king visited. In Denmark they think some churches were build with rostrum for the bishop in east and for the king in west. In questions like these we never know how much Scandinavia learnt during Viking Age from England that was more developed due to growth in population. Size of churches and feudalism is always depending on size of population.
In Middle England we have to mention The Five Boroughs Lincoln, Nottingham, Stamford, Leicester, Derby and maybe Manchester and Doncaster or Torksey. Partly these were recovered from old Roman fortifications and the size of these was between 20 and 85 acres.
The new feudalism in West Europe began after the final fall of the Romans. In England it began earlier than in Scandinavia with the consolidated Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that build the boroughs. A little later for a while they were strongholds against the new wave of Vikings beginning in early 9th century.
In Scandinavia they began to build castles in 12th century when they got the skill to build with bricks. In Denmark there are no rocks and few stones and the big forests were gone so the new technique was welcomed and the king was the first to build. Before that was the tradition to build big wooden "halls" and we have a lot of place names confirming that. In connection with these king's halls were storehouses "fatebur" for king / chieftain. Next step was "hus = house" that maybe meant build of stone and often it was a real castle.
In the Scandinavian province laws from 13th century we see fragments about the earlier "social order". The provinces/ landscapes were independent "kingdoms" where the local leader was called vising, nesking, gode, taler/speaker, thegn/ thane depending on dialect and landscape as far as we know from around 500 to 1000 AD.
In my province we have the oral tradition of a "nesking" and even a footstool for election. We have at least one ruin of what could be a "nesborough". Earliest known use is when Olaf the Holy charged the Icelanders "nestax" or "thegngild". Nesking could have been a sheriff, but the word "thegn/ tegn " seems to be nearer a ceremony master in peace time and leader in war. The word "gild" means fee.
In Danish thegn is "degn" today and he is the foresinger in church. There are some place names with the root "thegn " in South Scandinavia and it seems that it was systematic organisation and maybe also arranged by the king. Just in beginning of 11th century the rule altered between Denmark and Norway and even at least Gautland was involved in the family affair of Nordic kings.
My latest essay May 2002 is about the half brothers Knut I and Olof Skotkonung that seems to have organised the first real kingdoms in Scandinavia. That means Denmark - Skaane, West Gautland, East Sweden and in Norway at least Viken that is southern Norway The signs of kingdom are:
History and order of society is always a process in time.
These kings together seems to have organised places with thegn and besides that places with ceorls/ rince /svens which were warriors. In Sweden there are 12 pairs of tegneby and svenne/ rinke or karleby and totally 63 of these place names. That indicates that they completed an older order of society. Both minted coins in the town Sigtuna that began to grow around 980 AD. On one of the coins we can read Knut Rex Swevorum and in a letter from England he tells us he was king over "magna part Swevorum".
Everyone likes to live in "the oldest kingdom in the world". But we should define what we mean with the idea "kingdom". In today's use it is nearly the same as nation and then we have to define the criterions for what is a kingdom. In our time we want maybe to see great chieftains in the time before the kingdoms. However then the land was a manifold of different organisation of society.
There have surely been some chieftains too, but the main rule was that the folks were lead by their "aldermen" as the Anglo-Saxon sources tell us about the immigrant from abroad. The tradition of West Gautland tells about lawmen in lead of the land with the "All Gauts' Thing" as the common thing for all counties. I feel that West Gautland carried old Celtic traditions longer than the rest of Scandinavia. That feeling is born out of many small sign hard to define.
After Olaf the Holy Sven Alfifeson charged every peasant or "hearth" = hearth-tax a "gift/ tax" at Christmas in natura such as malt, thigh-bone of an ox and flax. In Denmark there are some place names especially at Jutland with the suffix -ild = fire and maybe they were introduced when the Norse king Magnus the Good ruled Denmark 1042 - 1047 AD.
The earliest known taxation but in conqured land is that of King Harald Harfager 860 -930 AD made this law over all the lands he conquered. All the udal (allodial) property should belong to him; and that the bondes (peasants), both great and small, should pay him land dues for their possessions. … it is easier to get taxes with battle axe in hand than at home from free peasants.
The first tax accepted by the people was the "wapentake" and duty that every seven/ ten peasants sent a man if the war came. In the medieval times we see the "king's guest tax" that in the beginning was obligation to host the king when he was on the road. That obligation is maybe older than wapentake. He also got a fee from heavy crimes. In Denmark king Nils in early 12th century got the regales, i.e. right to land none has claimed for.
The original Celtic "thing order" was that leaders were chosen for special occasions. WE have small signs of elected the leaders in the Irish concept Lia Fail = King's Stone = Footstoll that was the rostrum for the chosen leader. In the noblemen's sphere they chose their leader in democratic order among themselves that is the Anglo-Saxon "witan" and Nordic "hird". The English word is about wise and knowing old men while the Nordic is maybe "herd", but in both cases only concerning freemen/ noblemen.
In most of 11th century they arranged king's election in the Danish provinces North Jutland, South Jutland, Fyn, Zealand, Lolland and Skaane. We know it in Sweden as Eric's Gate from13th century. However as we see it in Denmark the choice of the people was among the members Royal House. King Svend Estridsen got many sons so it was the choice in which order they should become kings so to speak. But on paper they were elected kings.
The "academic theory factory" has until our days loved to see great chieftains and kings everywhere in the past. Hard to believe in virtual theories especially when we know how sparsely populated the lands were. As late as in beginning of 15th century before the Black Death in my province with 5 counties there were two "king's servants" and a dozen belonging to the lower nobility, i.e. in reality they were just big farmers that furnished some riders. The number of peasants was 300 ... Around 100 years later Stockholm was just as big as my little town of 5000 inhabitants today.
Most important fact is that we have no specified evidence about "fighting chieftains and burning castles". I think that the fiction in the Icelandic and Norse sagas has started the "academic theory factory". As I see it there would be no inhabitants left at Iceland if I believed in the sagas. Every Icelander thought he was king according to the folk memory at the farms. Nearly every Icelander was slaughtered according to the sagas … no, that was partly a yoke. Anyway to fill the sagas there must have been many kings and every county has a memory of a king.
In the Celtic tradition the druids were among other thing lawmen and sometimes they ambulated in several counties/ lands. We see some of the same tendency especially in the term "house guest / huskarl/ ceorl" that could be skilled specialist in handicraft but surely also lawmen. In early medieval time he was also a spy for the king. That may be the tradition even in much earlier times. In the tradition of Gautland we have the lawman in lead in the counties with the "All-Gaut Thing" as law thing.
Wick, wich, wick is a place for activity and the root vi- could also be seen as "the fork" with the "wet meadow" where there is some activity now and then. But in place names its origin is the protected place for drawing the boats ashore and for the market place. That grew in time and got sometimes palisades and become real harbour. In Scandinavian we also use the word for bay, gulf, creek, inlet and cove.
Maybe it is the old Celtic heritage "delight in deterrent" that make peace loving Scandinavians create the rumour about "bloodthirsty Vikings"? … or maybe it is the bloody age in 16th and 17th and the heroism afterwards that make us tell about fearsome forefathers? Then it is political propaganda and writing not science.
Anyway there is not much real scientific evidence. Usually we get rumours about Vikings or it is biased writing in France and England that sees and dramatise things without proportions and never see any good in it ... maybe the people on Isle of Man were pleased when the Norse brought the "horizontal water mill" to the island?
Besides the concepts about social order above there are some Scandinavian words for nature in the place names -fell = fjäll, -dale, -ey = island, sound = sund and -nes, -ness and the hills were naturally good observation places. They were also used for the watch and ward system in times of war.
Edda gods in place names
Initially we cannot use our nearly preconceived ideas about the pantheon in the Edda since that was mostly created in the very past centuries from 13th century onward. We have to forget all that and go back and see what could have been ideas of the time. There is nearly 1000 years between the earliest written Scandinavian literature and the reality in the Anglo-Saxon-Scandinavian culture.
Now with Internet the Edda Pantheon is living again since so many are writing about it and often we get contradictory descriptions. Others give the main gods all the attributes and see what they want to see. That is politics and not science. Some people want to compare us with the "primitive past" and that is not fair treatment of our dear ancestors. My analysis concerns the reality and real use of the ideas and I am interested in normal life of our ancestors.
Lack of evidence lure science to see more in the evidence than is reasonable. An example, the Gundestrup cauldron from North Jutland has a rich collection of pictures and they interpret it as if it is Nordic culture. However science finds in fact that they think it was made at Balkan and motifs are from southern Celts. For instanced "The Horned One" is known as Cernunnos even in France and there are some rock carvings in the Alps too. In these finds he wears a neck-ring.
But like a plough in the same area of bogs near Gundestrup it was set out as if "taken out of circulation. It is not our culture and use"… in fact that was also my first thought when I saw the silver plates. Then it is not reasonable that it could be the culture of the Cimbri. However at least locally at that time they have discussed the world of the pictures and made the decision "that is another world, we give it to the Otherworld/ Netherworld". As far as I know there are no finds of ritual neckrings at Jutland. It seems that they practised other rituals than the Erils.
Even when it comes to our Bronze Age rock carvings and the stuff we see in them should be analysed carefully. Initially they are just pictures and we know that they have seen these things somewhere. But we cannot know if they used or practised the stuff and rituals. From the rock-carvings we see that they draw horns on many figures, however only a couple of helmets with horns are found in West Europe.
Still we know that especially in Mesopotamia they showed the deities with quadruple horns since the Oxen was symbol of the four quarters of sun year. Originally it symbolised "spring equinox in Oxen" and became symbol and signs for spring equinox. There is at least one find from Cyprus showing the sun god Apollo with horned helmet. This tells us that there is a rational explanation and not only primitive Europeans wore that kind of helmets. In fact we see on Roman coins that the emperors wear horns and even the sun crown called "spike crown". Maybe that was inspiration to the crown with "points" around?
Too often they think that history began with the first occurrence of some remarkable artefacts or other remains. Every culture has a past history as far back as we have a single find. Thanks to our rock-carvings in Scandinavia we have a rich "historical archive" of pictures showing which ideas reached us even before Bronze Age. I think that the archive could be used for almost all Europeans since all people were living rural life.
In the rock-carvings at Vitlycke Bohuslaen there is one of the few real ritual-Oxen we have. It stands in the orbit of a circle. It is hard to date but could be as early as before 3000 BC. Then the Oxen was in use in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Indus culture representing the sun/ time, i.e. spring equinox was in Oxen. As symbol it lived long and we find it in the bottom of the Gundestrup Cauldron. Around 1000 years later we find at least the horns on the Sun Horse at golden bracts. Then spring equinox was in the heavenly flying Pegasus.
In my science of ideas I need substantial evidence and tie it to known things. Then we can use artefacts and figurative art. In early Iron Age the figurative remains were few but then in Golden Age we get the golden bracts and even precious jewellery and such things. There are few intelligible early rune texts but we get a little help. We can date that approximately but place names are harder to place in time and usually we can only make a relative timetable.
Since people were more isolated and it was a multi-culture in which the pantheon and tongue altered between landscape it is hard to generalise. To that comes the culture shift when the Danes throw the Erils out of their main settlements probably in Skaane and at the Danish Isles. Who were the Danes? They could be Sideni from the coasts of East Germany. They could even come from East Sweden and there are signs of burnt villages on Auland, Gotland and the south coast of Sweden in end of 5th century. In Beowulf they use the word Spear-Danes that could be the Cimbri from Jutland.
Anyway such a movement altered naturally language a little. It lead us even to the assumption that during the Roman period people maybe fled from the Rhineland. They would naturally settle on the borders of crowded and claimed areas. In Denmark, Skaane and West Gautland we feel a special heritage of Celtic culture for instance in the place names. The Erils belonged to the Swebian league and they brought culture from Germania north of Donava - Rhine. They were brothers with Batavians in Rhineland and especially with the Thüringians, Warners at Oder and even with Alemanni. Then I mean also that immigration is not the only way of migrating place names.
The mercenaries were on duty in different place such as at the Hadrian wall, in Italy, in Africa, at Balkan and perhaps in the Levant. That could have influenced the language. It is like a symptom that two thirds of the early rune texts is not intelligible. Those aspects would influence language and culture in Scandinavia in the same way we see the Low German influence during the 30-year-wars.
Some of the Edda gods we can recognise in the Bronze Age rock carvings. We do not know the names but the attributes and the symbolism. That is why we should be open for different names but the same meanings. However we should look out since the Edda gods sounds nobility while the earlier gods were archetypes in real life of farming. Then Time and Flow was the main topic.
There are nearly 1000 finds of golden bract and of them around 400 have some text. But not a single text with Odin in Scandinavia!!! ... see evenPlace Names Maps for late occurrence. The tricky question is that Thor is found in place names only in Saxon areas in Britain? Neither we see a clear Thor in text or picture on the golden bracts. Can we draw the conclusion that Thor was a late immigrant also in Scandinavia?
In the Edda literature generally Thor was the peasant's god and archetype of ceremony master as one aspect but maybe with another name. Maybe his asterism was Gemini and that looks much like his hammer with short shaft. Another aspect was the smith.according to his hammer. Surely the smith made rings for couples. We see the ceremony master at the Vitlycke rock carvings with lifted axe in front of a couple with tied legs.
Third aspect is the hero and most known is the tale about fishing for the Midgaard's Worm with an ox head as bait and we associate to spring equinox in Oxen more than 5000 years ago. The Worm is the ecliptic that encircles the known world Allheimr. That scene we also see in some rock carvings and on picture stones in Viking Age. On the Gosforth Cross and on a stone in a church at Thy Jutland we see him lifting something like worm. That is perhaps the episode when the giant Hymer lure him to lift his cat and it turns out to be the Worm.
Unfortunately precession and the heavenly vault make fix stars seemingly alter with time. Gathering people to thing would be natural at such important time and that is the Celtic Lugnasad. The old Celtic world was practising three or four feasts that were thing, festival and market at the same time. In sparsely populated areas thing / court matters were the minor part of the event. We have to understand their thinking that such thing as deciding the event of Ramadan was an important part of their World Order.
On the golden bract we can define one of them as LAUKAR since the text in runes is together with a figure. The word could mean "Flow man" and many texts associate to flow and circulation in nature in the same way as the ritual astronomy. LAUKAR = LAUR = LÖR as in Scandinavian Saturday = lördag seems reasonable while suggested "wash day" seems much like the lazy explanation.
Maybe it would be too much speculation seeing Laukar as Loke / Locke and Celtic Lugh. For some reason he was popular in North Sweden. However his name is hidden in synonyms like Lopt / Loft (spider) and Loss archetype for enclosing. We have a couple place names in my commune
It was natural that their pantheon gave name to the weekdays and the Nordic day names are all from our pantheon. We know that the Romans introduced the Latin week in 4th century and can only speculate in when rest of Europe did the same. However it was a rule for the memory and at the same time it standardised that aspect of life in the culture. The local variant died out and the central power won a point. Only in the languages we have spared some old words as in Polish were the summer months have old names for the three midwives
Here we must remember that in Roman time Saturnus was the god of agriculture. In English they borrowed that but all are from the Germanic pantheon. That fits the symbolism of the idol we see on the golden bracts with signs of agriculture. So we should not let later times colour those days. I vote for that the gods of fertility Frey, Satur, Sun and Moon (rain) gave name to those four days. Ti was the old Bull god for the cattlers, Wednes/ Wodan was the sea god for traders and Thurs was the tri-head god of World Order but that later was misunderstood as Thor the god of agreement.
In Latin and French god of commerce Mercurius was compared with Wodan. The Romans set up stelae at Rhine to Mercurius from several places in Scandinavia in first and second century AD. As usual they compared attributes and character of the idol with their own pantheon. That is the earliest evidence of a god from Scandinavia with a Roman name. Then Wodan was a peaceful trader and not the Grim. That is neither the Edda god Odin that I see as archetype of leadership by the name. We see the "boatlifter" on Bronze Age rock carvings and that is perhaps the origin and it was the asterism Aquarius. In the calendar it was symbol for autumn when the trader's boat was taken ashore.
Then we have to look more closely at our evidence that points at late migration of Odin and Thor names to Scandinavia. On nearly 1000 golden bracts and 400 texts there is not a sign of Odin 300 - 500 AD in Scandinavia and that means the nobility did not use the name. On German bottom and down to Rhine we have a few texts including the Merseburg formula in runes. There is a text from Niedersachsen with three gods in a typical Celtic triad. Wodan we know also as Wedne, Loga/ Lug is the old Lugh "Longarm" = Loke known in many parts of the old Celtic world and the third is WigDonar = Thor = Vige-Tor in Scandinavia later as ceremony master.
But can we really set Wodan / Wedne equal with Odin? There are only a few place names with Odin and Thor in the main area of the Erils. In this case we can not be sure how old the place names are at least when it come to mounds and stony remains. These names we find in East Sweden and in Viken = southern Norway and Bohuslaen ...See map . Nobility naturally worshipped Odin archetype of the leader in Edda texts. Maybe some noble man wanted to frighten the peasants with a fearful god.
In England we find Wednesbury, Wensley (Woden's grove), Woden's Dyke and they think that they can see Grim as synonym however that name sounds more like a smith. In Old English "grima" = ghost that should be "the follower" or the shadow of man ... and maybe Holy Spirit? In Yorkshire there is Onesacre, Onesmoor that makes me think of Jutland where there are a couple such as Onsild, Onsted and the shortening to Ons- is perhaps from "Odens" with Odense as the only place name with Oden.
On the oldest map from the syssel-organisation in 11th century it is written OTHAENSE and we find one more in a syssel name OTHAENSHYLLAE. The syssel names are spread in the area of North Jutland, Viken Norway and in Wermland that were ruled by king Knud I and later by Magnus Olofsson. The syssels became counties / hundreds later.
The root OD means point but also the abstract "lead". Suffix EN is late invention and it was earlier IN that is usual dative suffix. ININ = INN is the verbal action of being the leader. Wodan is surely "water" and the Waterman Aquarius in the sky. We cannot immediately set Wodan = Odinn. However since Wodan became the leading idol they associated leadership to him too. In general a few gods gathered the attributes of the early archetypes … it is quite normal that a leader believes he can and know everything and he takes all the jobs … now I think about our premier of today.
Even the late legend of Thor is contradictory or includes several archetypes. The clearest are WigDonar = VigeTor = Thunaraz =Thor= Tor. The last is in German "door" and it comes from the asterism with Sumerian Utu in the gateway to the new season. He stands in the "spark-gap" between past and future or "before and after". That is why he is the consecrator = Tor vige = WigDonar. Another name is Véorr as the ceremony master in the Vi. Thor's asterism the Hammer/gateway opposite to the Fenriswolf = Sagittarius. Thunaraz is the old Storm-God we find in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Levant but with very deep roots even in the rest of the world many thousand years' back. In the saga we get the expression of a smith also.
In English they write Thor / Thunor and the place names are all in the Old Saxon counties. That confirms the assumption that Thor is originally immigrant to Scandinavia. Then I mean at least the name and not necessarily the archetype. Then we find in England Thunderley Hall, Thunridge, Thundersley, Thunorslege, Thunerleaw, Thunorslege and Thunres Lea.
The suffixes -ley, -lege and possibly -lea are perhaps rest places while -low is the ultimate last rest place. These we have also in Scandinavia. Near is also "lausa" = loch that means cattle-pen. In the poem Voluspa in the Edda they remember that the cattle breeders were the first to claim land. They call them Aesir = Goatheads since the goat was maybe the first cattle … seeGolden horns.
The growers came later and they were called Vanir = "those without the ding", since vegetative sex do not have that ding. Naturally god names as well as place names have been written differently through the times. We have to trust in the linguist that they got it right in the end or like here seeing the different aspects.
Here a couple of examples from Isle of Man
Here I cock up my ears since in this case the suffix -tún become town
The suffix -leaw corresponds maybe to Scandinavian -lev we could interpret "bread" or leaf of bread and the root is usually an old idol. Then we understand it as the dative that tells they lived in the name of the idol. We know from south that at least the nobility and the leaders took name after the leading idol. It would be natural that even villages lived in the name of their idol. Thunor's grove, Thurstable, Thor's Stone on Thurlaston Hill could be seen as meeting-places in a "lund"= grove, or around a pole or standing stone.
The root Thurs- = giant could be problematic and difficult to separate from Thor. In Nordic we have the "thurs" and even "trihead thurs" and busts with three heads are found in Denmark and France at least … seeTrinity . The Trihead symbolised the trisection of the moon year. Each head symbolises an asterism and sometimes the leader wears the Celtic neckring even called oath-ring. Maybe Tyr once was the one with the oath ring in the triad. In Danish there is also the "fourhead" Elle known as "age" where the four heads originally were the cardinal directions and we can compare it with Indian Vishnu.
The Romans saw Tyr / Tis /Tiw as the war god Mars Thingsus maybe because they did not know about normal Germanic peaceful society and law. The thing/ court was naturally the core of the society in Scandinavia and especially in Denmark there are many "tinghaug" = thing/ court mound. Best known is Tynwald Hill at Isle of Man. Since I have found notes about a low round mound with ditch around in neighbouring parish I would like to think they got the idea from my province.
Anyway he was the thing god and idol judge. They reasoned that once he lost his arm he knew what pain is and that is good for a judge. On the other hand he had no sword arm so he could not use the sword for fast judgements --- But I wonder why some interpreters see him as a great warrior. I mean without sword ar and the story seems old.
We see the one-armed idol in some Bronze Age rock carvings. The Nordic saga tells he put his hand in the gap of the Fenris Wolf when they tied that beast with words in fact. Reality is their practical astronomy when deciding the eclipses of the moon.
We know it better nowadays as the head and tail of asterism Draco and it was the extremes of the moon cycle. Probably Tyr originally Oxen but become opposite Hercules. The line from Gemini to Sagittarius would cut the arm of Hercules. Anyway once he learnt what pain is they made him judge and he could not use the sword without his sword arm. That is the Nordic idea of justice.
But the idol has gathered it all from the very beginning since one of his names is TIUR that means the Oxen that was stars of spring equinox 5000 years ago. Other names are Tiwaz /Tiw/ Ti / Tis /and even Nordic Tyr that means bull in Danish. His symbol / syllable TI is an arrow in many scripts. In Danish Tis- is the root in the diddies and flow and even in urine flow.
The same syllable we have in Phoenician goddess Tinia and Minoan Potinia. In Rhineland there are place names that clearly associates to diddies and that is perhaps me. mory of Kubebe / Küblele from Bronze Age. Still I wonder about the "Longleg" on some bracts with the name Laukar = flow-man that maybe is Balder but in some cases he has a hand in the gap of the Fenris Wolf.
In Denmark the normal root is TI/ TIS/ TIR an we find them in places where there have been a vi / wih. In England we have Tysoe, Tuesnoad, Tuesley, Tifield, Great Tew, Dun's Tew, Tewin and Deverstone Cliff. Standing stones were often used as time marks Gyrsten (Candlemas thing), Edsten (oath stone), Freystone (Beltaine), Hovsten (Trinity/ trihead), Sten Lille (May 6th ), Maidstone (spring equinox) to mention some of them
In the beginning of words the merged syllable FRI / FRE/ FRO / normally indicates some kind of fertility and growth. FRO as in "frog" and Scandinavian Frö = germ is used even for Frey for some reason and means maybe the spring flood. It comes perhaps from India were the frogs announced the monsoon in end of summer that was the real fertility since water and rain was the important Soma = eau de vie = flow of life.
People living in towns today are not too interested in water and the flood even rural people could do without. Anyway that seems to be the explanation behind the frog in early symbolism. The English place names are here Frobury, Froyle, Fretherne and Friden and Frigedene means "Frigga's meadow". Frigg seems to come from Saxony and maybe originally is the asterism Aurigae/ Isis however in late times in Nordic asterism Orion that was Frigga's Coat.
Today we would not understand the concept fylgia / shadow/ follower that even may be the Holy Ghost in early Christianity since the spirit is the invisible follower. Maybe they meant the name and memory of man that lives around him and after him. An old word is "scucca" we can find in Shacklow, Shucksburg, Shucklow Warren, Shucknall, Shugborough, Shuckton Manor and these places are near ancient graveyards. On the golden horns from Gallehus we see a lot of shadow animals. I come to think about the language in my childhood when they compared qualities of man with animal behaviour. I was always looking for the fox behind someone's ear.
It seems that many of these place names could be early Anglo Saxon heritage … and why not there is only 300 years between the Anglo Saxons and the Vikings. Basic customs would not change much in that time. It would have been well known culture they came to. The more I analyse early Christianity the clearer I see that there would not have been too much difference in culture. Pope Gregory I advised the missionaries to just continue the old culture and that we see in places with a well near the church and that the new churches are near ancient graveyards.
This essay build on Penny Drayton's essay "Danelaw gods - the place-name evidence" At the Edge Archiveshttp://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/Danelaw.htm
I will work more on this but so far I draw the conclusion that her list should be drawn back to early Anglo Saxon age too. Especially when it comes to Saxon place names. The Vikings settled north of a line from London to Chester with concentration in Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, coastal Norfolk and Lake District.
This survey gives us fragments that tell us about the manifold culture in Anglo Saxon times from 477 to1000 AD and with roots in old Celtic culture. There are no great difference between Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon place names
Here a couple of URLs to general historical place names. That completes my list about ulötural ideas in place names:http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~villages/the_village.htm