Norwegian history | the Iron age | Norway

In Norway, the first traces of iron date back to 400-300 BC. The country has significant iron resources, and making tools and weapons from this new metal was a significant step forward.
A Viking and a Viking ship. | © Corey Ford - stock.adobe.com.
By LA Dahlmann

The iron age | 500 BC – AD 1050

The Scandinavians traded with its neighbours to the east, and the Europeans to the south, including the Romans. During the iron age, the farming communities became more structured and socially divided.

It was probably during this period that people started thinking in terms of land ownership. The rune alphabet appeared, and rune inscriptions contribute greatly to our modern-day understanding of the Iron age language, mindset, and religious beliefs.

The climate worsened and plagues and other illnesses haunted the population. Old Norse myths about fimbulwinter (the great winter) and ragnarok (the end of the world) may have their roots in Iron age events.

During the AD 700s, the characteristics of the Viking age emerged, with maritime and settlement expansion, increased trade, and the founding of more established trading locations. One distinct feature was the typical Viking ship. It was fast and able to sail across vast oceans. The raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne in AD 793, off the coast of Northumbria in England, is often defined as the start of the Viking era. The Vikings are known as aggressive and murderous brutes, but back home they were also farmers, hunters and fishermen, and excellent traders and explorers. The Vikings kept slaves – in Norwegian known as treller.

Written sources emerged during the latter part of the iron age, and the population increased. Laws and the concept of government developed, and regional assemblies – things – were established. Harald Hardråde – Harald Hardrada – is regarded as the last Viking king. He fell during a battle at Stamford Bridge in AD 1066, when attempting to conquer England. It was also towards the end of this era that the Christian Catholic faith expanded and gradually replaced the old Norse beliefs. The total population around year AD 1000 was an estimated 100,000 – 200,000.

Norwegian history timeline

  1. The latest ice age
    115,000-10,000 BC
  2. The Stone age
    10,000-1800 BC
  3. The Bronze age
    1800-500 BC
  4. The Iron age
    500 BC-AD 1050
  5. The High middle ages
    AD 1050-1350
  6. The Late middle ages
    AD 1350-1537
  7. The Early modern period
    AD 1537-1814
  8. Norway reborn as a sovereign state
    AD 1814
  9. Norway in union with Sweden
    AD 1814-1905
  10. Full independence at last
    AD 1905
  11. Prosperity, war and depression
    AD 1905-1940
  12. World War 2 and occupation
    AD 1940-1945
  13. The post World War 2 era
    AD 1945-1970
  14. Transformation and neoliberalism
    AD 1970-1990
  15. Technology and globalisation
    AD 1990-today

BC = before Christ | AD = anno domini = after Christ
Main source: Store norske leksikon – snl.no