Danes & Other Tribal Immigrants


Danes & Other Tribal Immigrants from the Baltic Coast.


The settlement of Danes in England, which began before Bede`s time, went on apparently more or less continuously after the eighth century. They are mentioned by the name Dene in early Anglo-Saxon records and in the `Traveller`s Song,` and by various names, such as Dacians, Daucones, and Scyldings in other ancient writings. Some of them were also known by names derived from the islands they inhabited or their Scandinavian provinces, such as Skanians from the province of Skane.

One of the earliest traces of the Danish name in England is Denisesburne, mentioned by Bede, apparently a place in Northumberland. Another early name of the same kind is Denceswyrth in Berkshire,(1) in a Saxon charter about A.D. 811. The Anglo-Saxon names Denesig, now Dengey, in Essex,(2) Denetun or Denton in Kent, and Densige, appear to have been derived from those of individuals or families who were Danes, while the name Dentuninga, now Dentun, in Northamptonshire, apparently denotes a kindred of the same race. The Domesday Hundred name Danias, or Daneis, in Hertfordshire, is also apparently derived from the same people.

Two English woodlands bore old Danish names – viz., Danes Wood, now Dean Forest, in Gloucestershire, and part of the forest of Essex, which was called in Danish literature `Daneskoven,` or the Danish Forest.(3) Some of the tribal names of the Danes are known – viz., South Dene, North Dene, East Dene, and West Dene. Another branch of the nation is called by the name Gar Dene, or Gar Danes. The poem of Beowulf begins with a reference to them :


`What we of Gar Danes

In yore days

Of people Kings

How the AEthelings

Power advanced

Of Scyld-Scefing

To the hosts of enemies

To many tribes.`


Who these Gar Danes were cannot be with certainty determined. There is a trace of them to be found in England, as will be stated later on, and they are supposed to have derived their name from their distinctive weapon, the spear. There were Scandinavian people settled on the south and east coasts of the Baltic among the Slavs and Eastmen who were known by the name of Gardar.(4) In the tenth and eleventh centuries these colonial settlers in Russia were strong enough to maintain a Scandinavian kingdom, also called Gardar,(5) or Gardarike, the name being derived from the many castles and strongholds (gardar), probably earthworks, which they made for defence. The migrations of Scandinavians certainly began long before the English Conquest, and their settlements on the east coast of the Baltic point to the probability of some Eastmen having been among the allies of the Danes, and perhaps of the Goths, in their invasions of England. Old Scandian colonies have been traced in Courland and Livonia by the discovery of sepulchres similar to those of the Iron Age in Scandinavia. In Esthonia, also, the names of places and of the islands off the coast point to such settlements – Nargo, Rogo, Odinsholm, Nucko, Worms, Dago, and Runo. The old Danish empire extended over all the countries bordering on the Skagerac, and hence Dane became synonymous in English with Scandinavian, and the old Norrena language was called the Donsk, or Danish, tongue. The later Danish empire of Cnut comprised part of Mecklenburg as well as the Cimbric Chersonese.(6) He was thus King of the Wends as well as of the Danes. During the time of their supremacy in the Baltic, Danes were the natural leaders of any confederation of the Baltic tribes in warlike expeditions for conquests or foreign settlements, as the Goths and Angles were before them. Skane, Halland, and Blekinge, now provinces of Sweden, formed part of the kingdom of Denmark for 800 years until 1658, when they were united to Sweden.(7) From what has already been said concerning the lands in which the Angles lived before they came to England, it will be seen that the probability of some Danes having come into England with them is great. Bede affirms as a positive fact that some of the English in his time were descended from Danes, and the early place-names confirm his statement. They were a colonizing race, and it is probable that the Scandinavian settlement in the North-West of Russia began as early as the eighth century, which was that in which Bede lived.

The greater Denmark from which the early settlers came was that which was known to King Alfred. When sailing into the Baltic, Othere, the Sacndinavian mariner, told the king that he ahd Denmark on his left, and Zealand and many islands on his right. This was the kingdom whose capital was Lund in Skane, in the south-east of what is now Sweden, and it must have been from that country that many of those settlers came who have left their traces in some old Danish place-names that still cling to their English homes, such as the Domesday Scen and Scan names, which are only found in England in the Danish settled districts. Others, such as the old place named Lund in Lincolnshire and the East Riding, are apparently derived from their former homes in Skane. As already stated, Dan and Angul are mentioned by Saxo, the twelfth-century Danish historian, as the mythological ancestors of the Danes, and of these he tells us that Angul gave his name to the Anglians.(8) In this tradition we may see the probability of some very close connection in their origin between the Anglian and Danish races. Although Zealand had become the centre of the Danish monarchy when Saxo wrote in the twelfth century, yet Skane still formed an important part of it, and the Skanians are very frequently mentioned by him. In the twelfth century there were no doubt many more historical runic inscriptions existing within the limits of the ancient Danish kingdom than the few hundreds which still remain, for the Danes were certainly acquainted with runes.

Denmark was long divided into three States or kingdoms, and we find three principle monuments connected with the election customs of their Kings – viz., at Lund in Skane, Lethra in Zealand, and Viburg in Jutland.(9) It has been said that the Anglo-Saxon settlers were people of various tribes speaking a common language. This was no doubt the case to a very large extent, but as Skandians are proved to have been among the Jutish and Anglian settlers by the evidence of runic inscriptions, and as the names for many objects, persons, and tribes in the Old Norrena or Donsk tongue are different from their names in the old Germanic languages, it would, perhaps, be more accurate to say that the dialects of the settlers were mutually intelligible. The many synonymous words which came into use in Old English are proof that the dialects of different tribes were blended into that speech. The old Donsk tongue was the language of Northern England, and it, or something very like it, must have been the speech of the Northern Angles. It must have been the dominant language used on the coasts of the Baltic, and we may therefore look to allies of the early Anglians settlers in England, and of the later Danish ones, for traces of other immigrants from the Baltic coasts.

The earliest example of the language of the Old English, or one of the earliest, is the Saga and poem known as the `Beowulf.` Its scenery and personages are Danish,(10) and by Danish we must understand that early kingdom whose seat was in what is now Sweden. Marsh says : `The whole poem belongs, both in form and essence, to the Scandinavian, not to the Germanic School of Art. The substance of “Beowulf,” either as a Saga or as a poem, came over, I believe, with some of the conquerors, and its existence in Anglo-Saxon literature of the Scandinavian element in the immigration.` This poem in its written form of the immigration.` This poem in its written form is about the eighth century.

The extent to which the dialects of the old Northern language were spoken in England during the Anglo-Saxon period has probably been under-estimated. Wherever there were Northern settlers, some dialect of the Northern speech must have been used, and evidence will be shown in succeeding chapters of its use in other parts of England than the Northern and Eastern Counties. To how great an extent this was the language of the Northern Counties in the early part of the tenth century may be estimated form the statement in the Egils Saga that in the reign of AEthelstan almost every family of note in Northern England was Danish on the father`s or mother`s side.(11)

In the account of the early history of the Danes which Saxo gives us, we read of the part which other nations of the Baltic coasts took in the war between them and the Swedes. There were Kurlanders, Esthonians, Livonians, and Slavs,(12) from the eastern or southern coasts of the Baltic Sea engaged in that war, and it is by such alliances rendered probable that in expeditions against England the Danes or Northmen also had Eastmen of these maritime nations acting with them. If alliances could exist in the later Anglo-Saxon period, there is no reason why they might not have existed during the time when the Danes were fighting for new homes and largely settling in England, or that some of these Baltic allied people may not have settled in England with them under the Danish name. Under that name Fins also may have come among other so-called Danes, and there is evidence that a few of them did come. Finland, the most northern of the Baltic countries, inhabited by people allied to, or perhaps even descended in part from, the old Gothic and Scandinavian stock, has been through the range of history, and still is, more advanced in the arts of civilization than its Slavic neighbours, and its geographical position in ancient time brought it into commercial intercourse with Scandinavia and Danmark.

There are reasons for believing that the Finnic race occupied part of the Northern peninsula at an early period in history of Scandinavia. At a remote time, which tradition places at the beginning of the Iron Age in that country, but which may have been much earlier, the country was overrun by people of a different race from its aboriginal inhabitants – i,e., by tribes of similar racial characters to those of the early Gothic or Teutonic stock. These newcomers are supposed to have driven the aborigines, who are believed to have been of Ugrian descent, northwards, where a remnant still exists, and are known as Lapps. These were, however, in ancient time also called Finns, and the name Finmark as the boundary of their country has come down to our time. The Fins of the Baltic, the inhabitants of the present Finland, are, however, now a different race from the so-called Northern Finns or the Lapps, and although they have affinity in language,(13) they were known as distinct in the time of King Alfred.

The Fins of Finland are for the most part blonde, and a longer-headed race than the Slavs, like the long-headed Letts and Lithuanians, and, like them, are of mixed descent. They are apparently, from all the evidence available concerning them, an offshoot from the same trunk as the Teutons, (14) or at least of the Aryan stock.

The Finns, who called themselves Quains,(15) are the same people of the Cwaens, which was their native name mentioned by King Alfred. In his `Orosius` Alfred mentions both Finns and Scride Fins or Lapps, and describes the locality of each race. After mentioning the country of the Swedes and the Esthonian arm of the sea, he says : `To the north over the waste is Cwenland, and to the north-west are the Scride Finns, and to the west the Northmen.`(16) In the Anglo-Saxon times some of the Cwaens or Fins occupied part of the Scandinavian peninsula as far south as Helsingland, on the east of Sweden, opposite to Finland, where the name Helsingfors probably denotes some ancient connection with Helsingland. As the Lapps were called Skidfinnen by the Norse, and are still called Fins by them, some confusion has arisen in the use of this name. As applied to natives of Finland it is not a native name. We may, however, look for traces of them in England under the name Cwen or Quen, as well as Fin, as we may of the Wends under their Northern name of Vinthr. If any Fins took part in the colonization of England, it must necessarily have been as members of a body of settlers under another name, probably with Swedes or Danes. As the true Fins have a connection with the Teutons in race, some of them may have been included in the Anglian or Danish hosts, and without the alliance or friendship of these nations, who at different times were masters of the Danish islands, it is not likely that any of them would have left the Baltic. It is in some of those parts of England which were occupied by Danes that traces of Fins, Lechs, and other Eastmen from the Baltic are found, where they may well have settled s Danish allies.

Among Europeans nations generally the skull is orthognations – i.e., the plane of the face traced downwards forms an angle more or less approaching a right angle with the plane of the base of the skull. Among some of the tribes of Russia, of Ugrian or Mongol descent, prognathous skulls – i.e., with this angle less than a right angle, and consequently with the lower and upper jaw-bones projecting forwards – may be observed, and to a less extent the same ethnological characteristics is met with among some of the Russian races of mixed descent, whose ancestors presumably were at one time nearer neighbours to the Mongol tribes. This characteristic of prominent jaw-bones is of some importance inconsidering the evidence of the migration of the Mongols and their admixture with other races, seeing that examples of prognathous skulls have been found in Britain, and a decided tendency to prognathism may still occasionally be observed in individuals of Northern European races.

The Esthonians of the Baltic coast south of the Gulf of Finland are a people more or less allied to the Fins on its northern shore. De Quatrefages, who examined some skulls of Esthonians, discovered that one in three under his observation showed a well-marked prognathism. He says : `Orthognathism being considered one of the attributes of the white race, the existence of a prognathism very frequent and very pronounced appears to me difficult to understand.` He goes on to say : `It becomes easy if we admit that it (prognathism) was, if not general, at least very frequent in the race, which was the first people of Western Europe, and that it is still represented among us by the more or less mixed descendants.(17) In order to explain the phenomena of the prognathous skull, he thus supposes the characteristic to be a most ancient one, and to have descended to individuals of the present European races from some very remote Mongol ancestors. These characters are still represented by certain Mongol tribes in Russia, who at avery early period may have extended further westward, or have been among the remote ancestors of the Esthonians and Fins, whose language at the present time is allied to the Ugrian.

This maybe interesting to the ethnologist, but the ordinary reader may reasonably ask what it has to do with the Anglo-Saxon settlement. Eight skulls out of twelve from West-Saxon graves were found by Horton-smith(18) to be orthognathous, one was mesognathous, and the other three were on the border of meso- and prognathism. Horton-Smith found himself in a difficulty in being unable to see where the prognathous tendency could have come from. He rightly said that prognathism could not have been due to admixture of Saxons with the descendants of Celts of the round barrow type, seeing that these broad-headed Celtic people were almost orthognathous, and that the difficulty remained no nearer solution, inasmuch as there were no prognathous races in Britain at that time. Anglo-Saxon or Danish settlers with these facial characteristics may, however, have come in as individuals, partly of Finnish and partly of Ugrian descent. The Esthonians are closely allied to the Fins and prognathism has been found to be a characteristic of some of their skulls. In dealing with this subject, we have only to consider it so far as it may be concerned with the question of the settlement of England, and that question is : Did the Fins, Esthonians, or other Eastmen take any part in that settlement ? A well-marked tendency to prognathism is also exhibited by certain skulls from Anglo-Saxon graves at Winklebury, Dorset, as described by Beddoe, as well as in those described by Horton-Smith. Beddoe says that the Saxon skulls found at Winklebury are, on the whole, more prognathous than the Romano-British skulls found in tha same neighbourhood. The same prognathous characteristic maybe observed rarely even now among English people individually, and these individual peculiarities must have been caused by some racial infusion. It may have been due to some ancestor in recent centuries marrying a prognathous Asiatic, or it maybe a race-characteristic of a very remote ancestor, which, as is well known, often shows itself after many generations.

The existence of a physical character such as this in some of the Anglo-Saxon people cannot be passed by. On this subject Beddoe says : `There are in my lists more than 40 persons who are noted as prognathous. Of these, 29 are English, 5 Welsh, and 11 Irish.`(19) This refers to individuals who actually came under his observations. He mentions also three skulls from the Phoenix Park tumuli, of which two are figured in the `Crania Britannia,` and others from the bed of the Nore at Borris, figured in Laing and Huxley`s `Prehistoric Remains of Caithness,` which shows the tendency to prognathism to be of remote date. These ancient examples, however, among the prehistoric people of Ireland and Caithness can scarcely account for the tendency to prognathism shown by the skulls from the West-Saxon graves. That characteristic would be more likely to have been brought – into some parts of England, at least – by settlers from Baltic lands in near proximity to prognathous people, than to have been derived from remote prehistoric people who maybe traced in Ireland or Caithness. Great indeed must have been the time which separated the Anglo-Saxon period from the remote era when people of Mongol descent may possibly have inhabited parts of Western Europe.

That the Esthonians or Eastmen and Fins had some connection with the Anglo-Saxons appear probable from other circumstances, such as the similarity of the objects found in Livonia with those of the Anglo-Saxon period in England, and from a resemblance of certain incidents in Esthonian folklore to those found in Kent. Wagner also mentions the Ogishelm – i.e., the Helmet of Terror, the name being derived from the King of the Ocean. The front of this helmet was adorned with a boar`s head, which yawned open-mouthed at the enemy. The Anglo-Saxons and Esthonians of the Baltic alike wore helmets of this sort.(20)

In considering the probability that there were some Fins among other Northern settlers, we must remember their ancient names, Cwens or Quens. There are some Old English place-names which have been apparently derived from this source, such as Quenintone and Quenintune, in separate hundreds in Gloucestershire. Both are mentioned in Domesday Book. Cwuenstane, also, is mentioned among the boundaries of Selsea, in Sussex, in a charter dated A.D. 975.(21) Quintone or Quenton, in Northamptonshire, occurs twice in Domesday Book, and other places of the same name are recorded in Wiltshire and Warwickshire, Quenfell in Westmoreland, Queningburgh in Leicestershire, and Quenhull in Worcestershire, are met with in later records.(22) Ingulf in his chronicle mentions a place called Finset, and similar names, such as Finsborough and Finningham, occur in the eastern counties. Still earlier references to Finset and Finbeorgh occurs in the Saxon charters, the former in Northampton, the latter in Wiltshire.(22)

As regards the more general name Eastmen, there are some very old names which apparently denote settlements of them. The `regione Eastregena,` also called Eosterge – i.e., the present hundred of Eastry in Kent – is mentioned in a Saxon charter. In the same county there are other Domesday names apparently referring to Eastmen.

There is another aspect from which the probability of settlers from the east coast of the Baltic having been among the later colonists of England maybe considered. Nestor, the historian of the early Slavs of Russia, tells us that the Swedes (Russ or Varangians), having become the dominant class on the eastern shores of the Baltic, were invited by the Slavonians about A.D. 862 to settle in Russia, in order to put an end to the internal strife in that country, a movement which led to the first foundation of the Russian State.(23) Nestor died about 1115, and wrote, consequently, comparatively near the date he mentions. Many Swedish inscribed runic stones tell of warriors `who fell in battles in the East ;` and in the interior of Russia, western coins have been found in barrows over chiefs, among which are Anglo-Saxon coins, part very likely of the Danegeld,(24) which the Anglo-Saxons paid, and which fell to the share of Danish allies from the east coasts of the Baltic.

It appears from Nithard that were was a considerable infusion of the Slavonic element among the English inferior tenants called laets ; and Othere, the Norse mariner, informed King Alfred that the majority of gafol-geldas, or tenents paying some kind of rent, among the Northmen in his day were Lapps of the so-called Finnish race.(25) having this evidence in view, it seems very unreasonable to doubt that some of them were introduced into England among the Northmen who were their lords.

In considering the evidence which may point to the settlement in England of some people of other tribes ethnologically allied to the Fins from the eastern coasts of the Baltic, we must not forget that the Livonians of the Gulf of Riga are a race partly of Teutonic extraction. Livonia is south of Esthonia, and near the Livs are the Letts and Lithuanians, who also are not pure Slavs. That the Livonians are of Teutonic affinity or descent receives support from the head-shape of the race at the present day. They are long-headed, as all purely Teutonic races are, their cephalic index ranging from 77.8 to 79.(26) There was an early settlement of Teutons on this part of the east coast of the Baltic, and their early civilization must have resembled that of the tribes which sent colonists to England and became the founders of the Anglo-Saxon race. Among the collection of Anglo-Saxon relics in the British Museum there are similar objects found in Livonia, placed among the English collection for comparison, and consisting of axe – and spearheads, buckles, chains for the neck, and other personal ornaments, which resemble those of the Anglo-Saxon period. Anglo-Saxon coins, in date from A.D. 991 to 1036, were found with these objects,(27) thus proving some intercourse between England and Livonia. The south part of Livonia is within the area of Lettish territory. The Lettish language is spoken in Courland, and there are some Letts within Prussia at Koenigsberg.(28) From their race connection, some Livonians, Letts or Lechs, and other Eastmen, may well have come to England with Fins among the Angles, Jutes, or the later Danes. There can be no doubt, from the Anglo-Saxon coins found , of communication between England and their country. In numerous instances people form Scotland were called Scot by Englishmen among whom they lived, others were called Waring from the Waring tribe, and Fleming from the Flemings. Similarly, the persons called Lyfing, Livingus, and Leving, in the Anglo-Saxon records(29) may very likely have obtained their names from the ancient Livs or Livonians, a name as old as Anglo-Saxon times.

The place-names supply a few traces of Lechs, under which names Livonians, some of whom still speak Lettish, may have been included. These Lech names occur in only a few parts of England, and these where Danes and other tribal people from the Baltic settled. That some representatives of the Lechs and other tribes of the Baltic near them may have settled in England is improbable. The records of St. Edmund`s Abbey certainly tells us of an invasion of Britain bt tribes from the Vistula,(30) and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us of an invasion in the year 1064 of Rythrenan, probably ancestors of the Ruthenians of Russia, into the country around Northampton.(31)

In Domesday Book there is a record of a man named Fin holding land at Cetendone in Buckinghamshire. Over his name the word `dan` is written, apparently for explanation in the usual way that he was so-called Dane. During the later Saxon period all the immigrants into England from Baltic countries probably came under the Danish name, and some of them may have been descendants of Baltic colonists of Danish origin.

It is difficult, therefore, to avoid the conclusion that the tendency to pronathism which certainly existed among some of the early Anglo-Saxons came into this country through people of a more or less mixed race from the Baltic coasts. The remarks of Beddoe on the Shetlanders(32) are of interest in connection with this subject. He describes them `as probably the fairest people of the British Isles. Black hair, however, does occur, and not very unfrequently. It is usually found in persons of a decided Ugrian aspect and melancholic temperament. The same type maybe found at Wick. These people may be relics of the Ugrian thralls of the Norse invaders, or possibly descendants of some primitive Ugrian tribe.` having in view the traces of Fins, which have been stated, the question maybe asked. It is not probable that there were settlements here and there of Fins among our Old English forefathers? They were an ancient maritime race, as they are at present. They were closely connected with Sweden, and were at one time partly located in it. Their country did not cease to be Swedish until about two centuries ago. The ancient nations of the Baltic were all in maritime communication. Their increasing populations must have made new settlements or emigration as much a necessity in ancient times as in modern. The fitting out of expeditions against the British coasts by the Angles and Goths of the earlier period, and the Danes of the later, must have been known all along the Baltic coasts. Would it not have been surprising if, amidst such maritime activity and pressure of population urging them on, some Fins, Helsings, and other Swedes, had not joined in these expedition?

The parallelism arises between the Anglo-Saxon settlement in England and the greater Anglo-Saxon settlement that has gone on, and is going on, in the United States. There was a settlement of Fins among the Swedish settlers in America and another of Dutch people near the river Delaware in Pennsylvania in the seventeenth century.(33) These settlers were soon absorbed among the English-speaking colonists and their distinctive ethnological characters lost. So it must have been in England, the dialect of the tribal settlers from the Baltic and their ethnological characters became in a few generations absorbed in the Old English.

The Fins have left the name by which they were called by the Frisians, Saxons, and other Germans, in some Fin place-names in England, which are mentioned in Anglo-Saxon charters and other early records. Whether these places were so called after individual settlers called by the name or after a community, the significance is the same. They have also left their own name, by which they were known to the Goths, Norse, and Danes who spoke the Old Northern language – the name Cwaen – in a number of English place-names which have a similar significance, but with this difference : where we find a place mentioned apparently as the abode of a Fin or Fins we may look for Saxon or German neighbours, and where Cwaen or Quen occurs as an equivalent, we may look for neighbours who were Scandians.

It should be remembered that King Alfred, in describing the voyage up the Baltic, gives some account of the Esthonians and their customs, thus leading us to suppose he must have thought this information would be of interest to his countrymen.

The ancient nations known as the Eastmen, on the east of the Baltic Sea and south of the Gulf of Finland – i.e., the Esthonians, Livonians, Lechs, and Lithuanians – were, without doubt, partly allied in race to those other old nations and tribes from which the bulk of the settlers in England came. Their ethnological characteristics of the present day, their dialects or language, and their folk-lore, all point to such a connection. As among all pagan Teutonic tribes, water-worship existed among the Eastmen, and still survives in these Baltic countries. In Livonia there is a holy rivulet whose source is in a sacred grove, within whose bounds no one dares to cut a tree.(34) Traces of water-worship also survive among the Lechs.(35) The heathen reverence for wells and fountains was one of the most persistent of Anglo-Saxon superstitions. As it could not be abolished, it was modified by the dedication of wells to Christian saints, and the existence of holy wells in all parts of England at the present time is evidence of the ancient reverence for them. The most remarkable custom, however, which the ancient Livonians had in common with the Scandinavians and Germans was a kind of pagan infant baptism, by which water was poured on the head of a new-born child and a name was at the same time given him.(36)

Some other remarkable customs which the Old English had in common with Fins and Esthonians were those connected with midsummer. It is scarcely possible for us to realize the full extent to which customs connected with the summer solstice prevailed among our tribal forefathers. Their vitality caused them to survive in England for more than a thousand years. The mid-summer fires were lighted in many parts of our country, as they were in numerous districts in Northern Europe. The customs connected with the solstice must have been most strongly adhered to, if they had not indeed originated, in Northern lands. In the North of Britain, as in Finland, Esthonia, and the greater part of Sweden and Norway, the evening gloam of midsummer passes into the morning dawn and there is no real night.

It is from the Fins and Esthonians that we derive one of the most interesting of midsummer legends :

`Wanna Issi had two servants, koit and Ammarik, and he gave them a torch which Koit should light every morning and Ammarik should extinguish every evening. In order to reward their faithfull services, he told them they might be man and wife, but they asked Wanna Issi that he would allow them to remain for ever bride and bridegroom. Wanna Issi assented, and henceforth Koit handed the torch every evening to Ammarik, and Ammarik took it and extinguished it. Only during four weeks in the summer they remain together at midnight. Koit hands his dying torch to Ammarik, but Ammarik does not let it die ; she lights it again with her breath. Then their hands are stretched out, and their lips meets, and the blush on the face of Ammarik colours the midnight sky.`(37) The interest of the legend is increased by the meaning of the names. Wanni Issi in Esthonian means the gloaming, in the language of the common people.(38)

The names Eastmen or Easterlings occur in early records as names referring in a general way to people coming into England from the East. The name Osgotbi,(39) which is mentioned in two Saxon charters as the name of a place in Lincolnshire, now Osgodby, is more definite. The name Osgotecrosse is mentioned in the Hundred Rolls of Yorkshire.(40) The name Osmington, or Osmenton, as that of an old place name in Dorset, is mentioned in a Saxon charter and in Domesday Book. The Osgothi could scarcely be other than the Eastern Goths – i.e., the Goths on the eastern coast of Sweden, or east of the Vistula, or some people of that race. The purest remnant of the old Gothic stock are the Dalecarlians, sometimes called the Swedish Highlanders, who inhabit the secluded district that stretches westwards from the Silian Lake to the mountains of Norway. They have preserved comparatively unchanged the manners and customs of their Gothic forefathers, and, as Bosworth has pointed out, a peculiarity of the old Gothic language – viz., the aspiration of the letters l and w. By this they bear witness in their tongue to the present day of their descent, for these peculiarities are an infallible characteristic of the Moeso-Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, and Icelandic languages.(41) The Anglo-Saxon people must have derived this peculiarity from a Northern source, for Bosworth tells us that the Danes and Germans cannot pronounce these aspirated letters.

The history of the Goths and Swedes in the Scandinavian peninsula shows that the latter became the predominant race in the ninth century, and subsequently the two nations were gradually blended into one. During the period when England received so many settlers from the North, we must look for traces of Goths and Swedes under their own tribal or national names. One of these was the tribe known as the Helsingi, whose homeland was the east coast of the Baltic, opposite to Finland, and, as the name Helsingfors shows, must have been connected with the Fins. They were also known as the Helsengi,(42) and under the name Helsings are mentioned in the `Traveller`s Tale` in connection with Wade and his boat, a mythical hero, like Weland the Smith. As a Northern nation their name must have been familiar to the Old English. One of the peculiarities of the old dialect of the Gothic people of Dalecarlia that has survived is the transposition of syllables, as jasel for selja, and lata for tala.(43) The transposition of consonant sounds, as in Helsingi and Heslengi, is well known. The survival of the name of this ancient tribe in those of Helsingborg on the west coast of Seden, Helsingfors on the coast of Finland, and Helsinore, or Elsinore, on the coast of Zealand, points to the probability of their having been a maritime people, and as such likely to have taken part in maritime expeditions. In England such names as Helsington, near Kendal, and others may possibly refer to settlements of them.

It is in that part of Scandinavia which was the old country of the Helsings that commemorative stone monuments abounded when O. Magnus wrote his history of the Goths and Swedes. He says that `these pillars are found among the Heslengi in greater quantity than elsewhere in the North,` and that `obelisks of high stones are seen nowhere more frequently than in the public highways among the Ostrogoths, the Vestrogoths, and the Sweons or Swedes.`(44) Some of the runic inscriptions on the stone monuments still existing in Sweden in which England is mentioned are of great interest. They tell us of men `who died in England,` of a worthy young man ` who went to England,` and of others who set out for the same country, that being all, apparently, that was known of them after they left their native districts. In one case we read of a memorial set up by his children to an English settler : `To their father, Feiri, who resided westward in England.`(45) In another, to one who died in England ,and `Urai his brother set up this stone to his memory.`(46) The inscriptions mentioned prove that Swedes must certainly be included among English colonists and among the forefathers of the Old English race. Such Anglo-Saxon names as Suanescamp, Kent ; and Swanesig, Berks ; Swanetun, Norfolk ; Swonleah, Hants ; and Swonleah, Oxfordshire, are probably traces of them.(47) In searching for traces of Swedes in England we must look for them in proximity to Goths, Norse, or Danes, with whom they probably migrated, and look for traces of their names under the names Svear, Sweon. Swein, and perhaps Swin. The latter name appears in the Orkney and Shetland dialect to be a corruption of Swein.(48) In addition, Stephens tells us of the words suin, suain, and suen being used.(49)

There was another ancient Baltic nation that may well have sent emigrants to England, the Burgundians of Bornholm and the country near the Vistula. They were closely allied in race to the Northern Goths. The island of Bornholm, called Burgunda-ea(50) by Wulfstan in the time of King Alfred, was named after them. They were a tall, blonde people,(51) and we know that there is historical evidence of the Emperor Probus having transported a great number of them from the Continent to Britain. Some of these may have been among the ancestors of the English race, as well as others who may have come in with the Angles, Jutes, or Danes.

We read in the Chronicles of Danes and Northmen, but there are few references to Swedes. They must, however, have been among the Danish forces, and were probably included under the names of Danes or Northmen. The rare mention of the Swedish name points either to the relative weaker state of the Swedes at the period of the settlement of England, or to their expansion on the east side of the Baltic. At that time the Northern Goths were the more important race, but later on the Swedish tribes advanced in power, and the Goths in the Scandian peninsula declined in relative importance. The more study we give to the Anglo-Saxon settlement, the more clearly we see evidence of a greater part having been taken in that settlement by Baltic traces than has been commonly ascribed to them. The oldest settlement was not all German. Even the poem of Beowulf, one of the oldest examples of Anglo-Saxon literature, the scene of which is largely in Sweden, bear witness to this, for its substance must have come over with the conquerors, and its existence in Old English literature is one of the many proofs of an early infusion of the Scandinavian element in the immigration.(52)

The old provinces of what is now Sweden, which extended along the Baltic coast or lay near the entrance of that sea, were vestergotland, Halland (opposite to the Danish Isles), Skane, Blekinge, Smaland, Ostergotland, Sodermanland, Upland (which contained the city of Upsala), Gestrikland, Helsingland, and Angermanland. Names of places derived from the names of some of these old provinces or tribal districts are certainly to be found in England. There is also the old boundary-name near Lake Wetter, formerly called the Wedermark. This was the country of some of the Eastern Goths called Wederas, and their name apparently survived in England in those of the Anglo-Saxon names Wederingsete,(53) in Suffolk, Vedringmuth in Sussex, and others. The settlement of people who took their name form the head of a family named after his tribe may perhaps be inferred from the ninth century place-name Bleccingdenn(54) in Kent, which closely resembles that of the old province of Blekinge in part of Scandinavian Gothland.

Stephens draws attention to the name Salua in a Northern inscription, which word he interprets as of the Sals, or of the Salemen, a clan or tribe of Northern people.(55) As an instance of the connection of these people with England he refers to the district of the Saelings in Essex. The personal name Saleman is found in the Hundred Rolls, and maybe traced from the Anglo-Saxon period downwards. The name reminds us of the Danish Isle of Sealand, and of a number of old Sele and Sale names in our own country, such as the Domesday name Salemanesberie or Salmonesberie. There was also in Gloucestershire a hundred at the time of the Domesday Survey named Salemannesberie-Hundred, apparently after the same place as that called Sulmonnseburg on the upper course of the Windrush in a charter of Offa dated 779.(56) The four Danish islands Sialand, mon, Falster, and Laland, at one time are said to have formed a separate kingdom called Withesleth, over which the mythical Dan was the first King, who by tradition was one of the three sons of the King of Svethia or Sweden.(57) The inhabitants of these islands were probably all known by separate tribal names, derived from the names of the islands, and some of them may perhaps be traced in England.

If we had no records of settlements in the United States during the last the last four centuries, the names of some of the settlements alone would tell us of the countries and places from which some of the colonists probably came. Of such are the old names New Sweden and New Netherland, and the existing names New York, New Orleans, Montpelier, New London, Boston, New Hampshire, Andover, Gloucester, Hampton, Bristol, New Milford, Newcastle, Barnstable, Norwich, Belfast, Plymouth, Beverley, Lancaster, Lancaster, and many others. Some of these names at least were given to the settlements by the earliest colonists to keep fresh in their memories the countries and places they had left. Similarly, nearly a thousand years earlier, some Scandinavian and other settlers in England from the Baltic coasts appear to have called some of their new homes Lund, Upsale, Rugenore, Gilling, Rye, Dover, Grinsted, linby, Risberga, Eldsberga, Billing, and others, after places in Denmark or other countries on the Baltic they had left. Human nature in regard to the memory of the fatherland has been much the same in all ages of the world. In the history of our own race the descendants of the Old English have in this respect shown evidence of a sentiment common to themselves and their remote Scandinavian forefathers.


1Chron. Mon. De Abingdon, i. 24.

2Dipl. Angl. By B. Thorpe, xxxix.

3Worsaae, J. J., `Danes and Norwegians in England.` 14.

4Cleasby and Vigfussion, `Icelandic Dictionary,` Preface.

5Ibid., and Rydberg, Viktor, `Teutonic Mythol.,` 24.

6Seebohm, F., `Tribal custom in Anglo-Saxon Law,` 340.

7Otte, E. C., `Denmark and Iceland,` p. 69.

8Saxo Grammaticus, translated by O. Elton, book i., 15.

9Mallet, M., `Northern Antiquities,` edited by Percy, p. 116.

10Marsh, G. P., `Origin and History of the English Language,`

11Cleasby and Vigfusson, loc. Cit., Preface.

12Saxo Grammaticus.

13Sweet, H., `History of Language,` 113.

14Ripley, W. Z., `Races of Europe,` 365.

15Latham, R. G., `Germania of Tacitus,` xv.

16King Alfred`s `Orosius,` edited by Bosworth, 38, 39.

17De Quatrefages, `Sur cranes d`Esthoniens,` Bulletins de la Societe d`Anthropologie de Paris, ii. Serie, tome i.

18Horton-Smith, R. J., Journal Anthrop. Inst., xxvi. 87.

19Beddoe, J., `Races of Britain,` p. 10.

20Wagner, W., `Asgard and the Gods,` translated by Anson, 242.

21Cart. Sax., iii. 193.

22Cal. Inq., Post-mortem, Edward III.

23Codex Dipl., Nos. 66 and 468.

24Metcalfe, F., `The Englishman and the Scandinavian,` p. 197, quoting Nestor.

25Ibid., 202.

26Robertson, E. W., `Scotland under her Early Kings,` i. 257. Quoting Nithard, `Hist., i. 4, A.D. 843.

27Ripley, W. Z., loc. Cit., p. 340.

28Bahr, J. C., `Die Graber der Liven.`

29Sweet, H., philological Soc. Trans., 1877-1879, p. 47.

30Codex Dipl., No. 956, and Searle, W. G., `Onomasticon Anglo-saxonicum.`

31`Memorials of St. Edmund`s Abbey,` edited by T.Arnold, Indax, and ii. 113.

32Anglo-Saxon Chron., MS., Cott. Tib., book iv.

33Beddoe, J., loc. Cit., 239.

34Winsor, Justin, `History of America,` iv. 452, 496, etc., and State Papers, Colonial Series, 1677-1680, p. 623.

35Grimm, J., `Teutonic Mythology,` ii. 598.


37Mallet, M., loc. Cit., ed. 1847, p. 206.

38Max Muller, `Chips from a German Workshop,` iv. 191, quoting Grimm, etc.


40Codex Dipl., Nos. 906 and 964.

41H. R., i. 129.

42Bosworth, J., `Origin of the English, German, and Scandinavian Languages,` 159, 160.

43Magnus, O., `Hist. of Goths, Swedes, and Vandals,` ed. 1658, p. 11.

44Bosworth, J., loc. Cit.

45Magnus, O., loc. Cit.

46Memoires de la Societe des Antiquaries du Nord, 1845-1849, p. 333.


48Codex Dipl., Nos. 38, 1276, 785, 556, and 775.

49Tudor, J. R., `The Orkneys and Shetlands,` p. 344.

50Loc. Cit., i. 24.

51Alfred`s Geography of Europe,` p. 55.

52Ripley, W. Z., loc. Cit., p. 144.

53Marsh, G. P., loc.cit., p. 101.

54Codex Dipl., Nos. 904, 932.

55Dipl. Angl., edited by Thorpe, Index.

56Stephens, G., loc. Cit., ii. 697.

57Cart. Sax., i. 320.

58Chron, Erici reg. ap. Langeh., quoted by Latham, `Germania,` cxxv.


Taken from the book =`Origin of the Anglo-Saxon Race.

Author T. W. Shore.