THE LANDS OF THE VIKINGS
EARLY SCANDINAVIA AND DENMARK
AT the dawn of European history the brightening day that illuminates with welcome suddenness the Graeco- Roman world breaks only as a grey and impenetrable twilight over the far-off northern lands where later the viking peoples lived. But to the night-eyes of those trained to see in the full darkness of prehistory these countries of the north were already thronged stages whereon had been enacted dramas of cultural changes and altering populations no less interesting than those that were a prelude to the development of the historical civilizations of early Greece and Rome. Therefore, here in the north as elsewhere it is necessary to have some knowledge of the buried and forgotten past as revealed by archaeological research, in order to have a proper appreciation of the antecedents of the vikings, to know the stock whereof they came and to understand the forces that had moulded them and given them the stamp of a race apart. For of such poor and dubious stuff are the beginnings of their written story made that only with the help of archaeological data is there hope of interpreting correctly the first glimpses of them, or of their forefathers, that are discernible in the half-lights of the earliest records or in the full illumination of the risen sun of history.
The Stone Age in Scandinavia and Denmark, in the formal sense of this term as a definitive era wherein the use of metal was everywhere unknown, was a long period that lasted according to present reckoning from about 7000 B.C. to about 1800 B.C., the date when bronze was first commonly employed in Denmark and Sweden. This immense stretch of time is divided into two periods, and of these the first extends from the beginning of the Stone Age until 4000 B.C., or thereabouts, and is considered by most archaeologists to have witnessed the initial population