A scene from the HBO-series "Rome"
Archaeological findings have strengthened notions amongst scholars that quite a few Norwegians, from the farthermost north of Europe, in all likelihood served as soldiers in the Roman legions.
Ancient weaponry, cups and coins all points towards a more extensive cultural exchange between Norway/Scandinavia and the Roman Empire than previously assumed, an assumption, (article in Norwegian only)
, Professor Heid Gjøstein Resi at the Cultural Historical Museum, at the University of Oslo also seems to agree with.
Yes, I believe Norwegians served in Roman legions," he says, and continues;"We have been able to confirm that artifacts found in old graves in Norway, which at first were believed to have originated elsewhere, do indeed have their origins from the Roman Empire."
In 1895, during the excavation of the grave of a Norwegian warlord, dating back to 200 A.D, buried near the little village of Avaldsnes
on the west coast of Norway, scientists found a sword with a silver ornamented scabbard, a silver ornamented shield, bracelets and four gold rings, artifacts and weaponry that indicates very well that this warlord might have served in the Roman legions, according to Professor Lotte Hedeager at the Institute of archeology, Oslo University.
It is a well known fact that people from so called barbaric tribes like the German tribes up north, were recruited into the Roman legions and that some of them even ended up as Generals and leaders
of the Roman legions themselves.
Ancient Roman artifacts found in a grave
in the Norwegian county of Østfold
(Photo: Eirik Irgens Johnsen, Cultural
Historical Museum, University of Oslo)
(Click for larger image)
"Warriors that chose to return to Norway, after 10-15 years in service, brought back not only Roman artifacts and coins but some even brought back artifacts typical for a man serving in the legions," says Laszlo Berczelli, a retired scholar from the Cultural Historical Museum.
One artifact typical for soldiers in service of the Roman army was vessels made of bronze for drinking and eating, an artifact found in many graves excavated in the eastern parts of Norway.
On an ending note, the scientist Svein Gulli, at the Cultural Historical Museum, asks somewhat rhetorically;
"It is a historical fact that Vikings served as mercenaries in the service of the Byzantine emperor, why then couldn't they have served in the Roman legions?"