Denmark before the Vikings

By Glyn Daniel; Ole Klindt-Jensen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
The Mesolithic

THE FOREST PERIOD

AFTER A FINAL COOL INTERVAL, the ice ultimately receded and melted away to the north, leaving Denmark bounded by the sea on three sides. The forest spread over the country and the dark green pine became the commonest tree. In the clearings of the forest were grass and low bushes, and only the banks of the rivers and the shores of the sea were free from trees. In the forest lived game: elk, wild boar, bear, red deer and aurochs.

The hunters of this period lived near water; by the side of a lake or on the sea-shore. Occasionally settlements are found inland in a place with a wide vista, or on a sand or gravel subsoil.

We know very little about the settlements of these people but, on occasions, traces of a few simple huts have been found which give us an insight into their building technique. Investigation of their habitation sites has also demonstrated to us why they placed their settlements on the lakes. In the mild, dry climate of this period the large lakes were overgrown with reeds and peat, on which grew alder and birch. At Ulkestrup, on an island formed in this fashion a short distance out into the lake, a hut was built near to the fishing-and to the hunting-grounds. Just outside the hut stood a very large alder: but once when the hut was unoccupied the tree was blown down during a storm, badly damaging the hut as it fell. On excavation the floor was found to be well preserved; it consisted of large strips of birch- bark, nearly 6 feet long, I foot 6 inches wide and 1 inch thick, covering an area which measured 20 by 15 feet. On the floor were found branches of pine and, here and there, soft beds of bracken. In the centre of it was the hearth, a circular area nearly 5 feet across, containing sand, clay, ashes and charcoal.

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Denmark before the Vikings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Illustrations 6
  • Foreword 9
  • Introduction 11
  • Chapter I - The Palaeolithic 14
  • Chapter II - The Mesolithic 20
  • Chapter III - The Neolithic 34
  • Chapter IV - The Bronze Age 58
  • Chapter V - The Pre-Roman Iron Age 81
  • Chapter VI - The Roman Iron Age 101
  • Chapter VII - The Dark Age 119
  • Chapter VIII - The Prehistoric Landscape 132
  • Chapter IX - Danefæ, Excavations and Collections 139
  • Bibliography 144
  • The Plates 147
  • Notes on the Plates 197
  • Index 205
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