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Historic horticulture in Sweden
The early Swedish farmers practiced horticulture in every type of habitat available to them. The early farms, built mainly around small wooden houses, the horticultural plots were situated on the sides of rivers or streams. Thus cultivation in these lowland river valleys, and also along lowland fjords and coastlines took place. From the early on, these areas were known as älvdalarna, the "hilly area of the rivers". The early cultivation in hilly areas started during the Viking age, but was not as widespread as in the lowlands. Horticulture had the character of a local craft, like brewing, shoe-making and wool-working.
When the early farmers moved from river-side locations to the dryer environments and plains, they followed the same principles as their river valley neighbours: they built small houses and cultivated small plots of land on the slopes. When there were better soils, in the drier areas, the farmers practiced a form of subsistence agriculture which made the basis of a village. These settlements, sometimes known as vikingskär, i.e. Viking homesteads, were quite small and only had a farm and a village community around it. The village had its own farmlands, forests, mills and other workshops. In these settlements there was at least one place where the village people had access to food and a place to stay.
The most important food crops in the early Swedish farms were rye and barley, swedes, cabbages, beets, spinach and endive. In addition there were plants of medicinal use, such as comfrey, yarrow and marjoram.
There are two types of archaeological sites where the horticulture of the Viking Age can be studied. The better known are the archaeological sites called småbygge and säteri. The smaller type is kök, and are more difficult to study, as they do not give the same results as the two above-mentioned sites. Kök was in many cases used for domestic purposes, and there is a considerable amount of animal husbandry. The only archaeological sites where there is large-scale production of grains are the sites of early farmers. The earliest farms (up to the middle of the 9th century) had a size of c. 150 m x 80 m. Some had a few additional buildings and workshops, such as a bakehouse, blacksmith and a small storage building. Other farm buildings were placed near the house of the farmers.
The farmers used a great variety of agricultural tools. Among these are axes, shovels, hoes, spades and pitchforks. These were supplemented by other tools and devices that had a special place in the farmer's hands: a sickle for cutting grain and a scythe for cutting hay. Most farmers had one or more of these devices and worked with one or the other depending on the type of cut or crop. They were placed next to each other in lines, one on top of the other, or parallel to each other, in a "grain field". Their spacing depended on the type of crop, the length of the grain in the field and the use of a trellis or other fence-like structure. If the farmers wanted to change the direction of the "grain field", they simply shifted one of the tools in the line. This was often an inconvenience for the farmers, who, if their lines became more or less straight, had to cut and collect the crop manually.
The horticulture of the Viking Age had both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages were the high productivity, the large size of the fields and the great variety of grains and other crops that were produced. They also have produced more than the required amount of food and clothing, which is proven by the large quantities of objects, such as food remains, tools and clothes, found on the farmlands and settlements that have been discovered so far. The disadvantage is that the farmers were working in difficult conditions. The soil in Scandinavia is too hard and rocky to provide for an easy cultivation.
The farmer working with a scythe
Another disadvantage is that the Viking Age farmers in the Scandinavian peninsula were not a unified group but a group of various peoples. Most likely this had more to do with the fact that the farmers in the Scandinavian peninsula were conquered by Charlemagne and other Germanic groups in the early 8th century than with their actual origins. The Vikings were divided into many clans, which, under the influence of a common religious belief, had very similar traditions and customs. The most important of these were a common religion (the Norse cult) and a common language (Old Norse, Old Danish).This is the same way as the Germanic settlers of the Scandinavian peninsula (the Germanic tribes of pre-Christian Scandinavia) are thought to have become united.
An important point to consider is the fact that the Viking Age in the Scandinavian peninsula began when the first settlers landed in southern Scandinavia. During the years that followed, these Viking Age farmers expanded, and at the end of the 8th century, in the 9th century, their settlement areas covered the entire area of the Scandinavian peninsula. However, the first settlements that were established during the Viking Age in southern Scandinavia were, as it were, a foundation for the more later Viking Age settlements. For this reason, the Viking Age in Norway and Denmark is known as the Old Norse era. The settlements in Sweden, however, which followed later, are referred to as the Viking Age.
The early Viking Age in the Nordic countries was characterized by the spread of settlements, which was made possible by the use of longships. A longship was a fast and easily maneuvered ship and the Viking Age Viking Age in the Nordic countries is thought to have been a period of expansion on the part of the Scandinavians. Settlements were spread from the Skagerrak to the northern parts of Denmark and the Baltic region. The people who lived in these settlements were Viking Age farmers.
From Scandinavia, the Viking Age is thought to have reached southern England and the British Isles. At the time, the people who lived in these places were known as the Anglo-Saxons. However, the Scandinavian influence in the British Isles, which had a large effect on many people, was much stronger than that in the rest of the British Isles. The Viking Age in the British Isles started in the late 8th century. In the 9th century, the Vikings were victorious and took over much of the British Isles, with some parts of the Scottish lowlands being settled.
The Viking Era was a period of growth for the Viking Age in the Nordic countries. Many of the inhabitants of these countries, who made great use of the opportunities given to them by the Viking Age, were not only farmers but also entrepreneurs, traders and military personnel. The development of trade became particularly pronounced in the 10th century, which ended in the 11th century. The Viking Era was followed by the Middle Ages in the Scandinavian countries. The Viking Age in the Norwegian North lasted more than a hundred years.
Finnish immigration to the British Isles
According to historian John M. H. Smith, the Viking Age in Scandinavia was accompanied by an intensive expansion into the North Atlantic. According to Smith, there were probably people from the Scandinavian peninsula who arrived in the British Isles in the 9th century. The immigrants were Scandinavians or Norsemen from the north of Norway and the rest of the Scandinavian peninsula.
There are traces of this period in Ireland. The archaeological record of human settlement in Ireland dates back to the early neolithic period, and human remains and artefacts from the 5th millennium BCE. Early contact between Ireland and Scandinavia has been attested by archaeological