1. The South European history of the Heruls
1.1. The Roman sources
1.1.1. The origin of the Heruls
In many Danish history books the Heruls are mentioned as the original people of Sealand and Scania from where they should have been expelled by Swedish Danes in the first centuries AD. The source for that theory is entirely the Gothic historian Jordanes in his work "Getica" from 551 AD. The Danish archaeologists immediately combined the expulsion of the Heruls with the alliances of the warrior elite indicated by the finds in Himlingoeje in the Roman Iron Ages. However, first of all Jordanes did not write that the Danes were Swedish. His words were that both people were of the same stock, the unknown Vinoviloth - maybe the Vinnili also mentioned as the ancestors of the Lombards. Secondly the contemporary Roman historians did neither mention Danes nor Heruls in Denmark - they were first mentioned by Jordanes 400 years later. As the third the idea about the Danish origin of the Heruls was entirely based on 5 bungled words in his geographical introduction about the Danes "expelling the Heruls from their settlements" - words which were probably misunderstood. Thus Jordanes later wrote about their etymology which he connected with the swamps at the Black Sea. Modern linguists read these words in the introduction as a reference to an event of his own time – probably the news about a Herulian envoy to Scandinavia circulating in Constantinople/Byzans 548-553 AD, where both Procopius and Jordanes wrote their works in those years.
The names of people in the Migration Ages change rapidly in the sources all the time, as many constellations consisted of semi-nomads following a successful leader - regardless of family or tribe connections. Probably the Eastern Heruls were established in the third century at the eastern bank of the Russian river Dnieper as an ethnogenesis between Germanic tribes, Sarmatian/Alanic nomads and Bosporanians - with Gothic/East Germanic as their language. Many of the Germanics were probably East Germanic Goths. At the same time a group showed up in Northern Frisia – the Western Heruls. The similarity in names may just indicate that they had their royal dynasty in common. None of the groups were mentioned by Ptolemeus around 150 AD, but a connection has been suspected with the two earlier people, Harii and Harudes, based on names and character. Under all circumstances the origin of the Heruls is unknown - just like the origin of the Goths being today connected with the areas around the mouth of the Polish river Vistula – not with Scandinavia.
1.1.2. The migrations of the Heruls
The Eastern Heruls were first time mentioned in 267-269 AD when they attacked Greece and the coasts of Asia Minor as pirates. They were together with the Goths using the navy of the Bosporanes. The most spectacular event was the looting of Athens from where we have our historical sources. Also the defeat of their leader, Naulobates, by the Roman emperor Gallianus at Thessaloniki was mentioned. Afterwards Naulobates was appointed a Roman "consular insignia". Consequently the Western Heruls being first time mentioned in 286 AD may in the theory have been his soldiers being resettled in Frisia as mercenaries. According to Jordanes the king of the Eastern Heruls, Alaric, was later defeated by the legendary Gothic king, Ermaneric. From around 375 AD the Heruls joined many other East Germanic and Sarmatic people in the Hunnic campaign through Europe, and as most of the other followers they were not mentioned in those years. After the defeat and death of Attila these East Germanic followers rised in rebellion in 454 AD against the sons of Attila at Nedao - except for most of the Ostrogoths. Nearly all the Huns were driven back to the Black Sea.
Most of the East Germanic and Sarmatic people established their new kingdoms at the northern bank of the Danube, while the Ostrogoths found place in Roman territory in Southern Pannonia. There is no reason to discuss exact borders as these horse-riding nomads were not tied by a local agriculture. For decades the Ostrogoths waged wars against their earlier companions and had problems with the Romans too. In 468 AD the Ostrogoths succeeded in that way to destroy the Sciri. The Eastern Heruls established a strong kingdom in Moravia (Mähren) and Marchfeld (at Brno and Vienna) by subduing and tributing all their neighbors - even the Lombards. The Western Heruls - and from 454 AD also the Eastern Heruls - were feared as Roman mercenaries and sometimes as pirates too. The Roman historians regarded these foot soldiers as "swift on their feet" and light-armed, but that was primarily the Western Heruls. The Eastern Heruls became also cavalry like the Huns and Ostrogoths they followed. They were even told to be the strongest group supporting Odoaker when he replaced the last Emperor of Rome in 476 AD. Odoaker was afterwards elected as king of Italy by his own Germanic soldiers - called Rex Herulicus. Odoaker himself was a prince of the Sciri, but his father was a Thuringian of birth. The rich princely tomb in Blucina, which is from that time, is regarded to be a royal Herulian grave - very similar with the tomb of the Frankish king Childeric in Tournais, who was an allied of Odoaker. Both kings had probably been Roman foederati.
Later the Ostrogothic king, Theodoric, agreed with the East Roman emperor to remove Odoaker. Theodoric had grown up in Constantinopel and was an Arian Christian. He besieged Odoaker in Ravenna for several years and when celebrating the following peace in 493 AD he murdered Odoaker by his own hand. Most of the Herulian mercenaries of Odoaker must have returned to Mähren, were Theodoric ten years later proclaimed their king as "his son of arms". The Heruls appear in this way to have ended up as a kind of subjects to Theodoric, who also asked the Heruls, the Thuringians and the Varni to join an alliance against the Francs.
Our historical sources regarding the Heruls consist of scattered remarks from the Roman and Byzantine historians and authors, as the people did not have their own historians. An exception is the Byzantine historian Procopius, who was the secretary and juridical advisor of the superior East Roman general Bellisarius. He must have known the Herulian mercenary officers personally. He spent two chapters of his work about the Gothic Wars on the Heruls - a work which he finished in 553 AD. He told that the Heruls "were superior all the barbarians who dwelt about them both in power and number", but due to arrogance and disregarding of their gods their king, Hrodolphos, suffered a serious defeat against the Lombards and was killed himself. The defeat, which is dated to 508 or 509 AD, is also known from much later Lombardic sources in a more anecdotal form.
1.1.3. The arrival of the royal family to Scandinavia
According to Procopius many of the Heruls went north to the Scandinavian Peninsula led by "many of the royal blood". First they went to the Varni living in the Elb-/Mecklenburg-area. From here they passed the nations of the Danes without meeting violence and crossed the sea. Arriving to the Scandinavian Peninsula they settled "at that time" at the Goetes ("Gautoi"). As the Danish expulsion of the Heruls mentioned by Jordanes is today regarded to be a contemporary description from the 6th century his information will also be an independent confirmation of the telling by Procopius about the Herulic presence in Scandinavia.
We shall be careful about the use of information from Jordanes and Procopius as they had no general idea of the geography of Northern Europe. Furthermore their sources regarding events 40 years before their own time could be handled uncritical and circumstantial. They had opposite motives to describe the arrival of the Heruls. The interpretation of their way to describe it can therefore be that the Heruls first settled between the Danes and the Goetes from where they were later expelled further north - in two steps. This is maybe confirmed by Procopius' use of the expression "at that time".
1.1.4. The Heruls in Illyria
Their remaining kinsmen at the Danube drifted around until they were received by the East Romans in Illyria, where they settled near Beograd. Their mercenaries later became an important element in the army of Justinian, but his condition was that they were baptized. Lead by Mundus they assisted Justinian during the Nika-revolt in Constantinople, which resulted in the rebuilding of the current Hagia Sophia church in 537 AD. Procopius emphasized several Herulic officers - especially Phara, who had a leading role in the defeat of the Vandals, and Suartuas. Procopius wrote that these Heruls around 548 AD sent an envoy to Scandinavia for a new king - and found "many there of the royal blood" opposite in Illyria. They returned with of Datius, Aordus and 200 young Herulian soldiers and sent back the candidate of Justinian, Suartuas, who instead became the commander of Constantinople.
It is obvious that this story was well known in Constantinople 548-553 AD as “hot news”. In 551 AD Jordanes finished his work in Byzans and in 553 AD also Procopius finished his work at the same place - in other words two independent sources had 5 years after the return of the envoy told about Heruls and Danes in Scandinavia for the first time – both in combination. A small hint would be understood and they could not lie about facts regarding these events if their works should be taken seriously - they could just let out inconvenient facts. These contemporary histories are decisive for the evaluation of our information about the Heruls in Scandinavia – both the migration to Scandinavia and the misunderstood origin.
Procopius received from a position close to the Byzantine court information from this Herulian envoy, which had just returned from Scandinavia 38 years after their arrival. He also told that they were much delayed as their first candidate died at their way back at the Danes - telling in this way that they lived far north of the Danes at Sealand and in Scania. He even told that he had interviewed witnesses from Scandinavia about the midnight sun. Unfortunately he did not mention the rule of their royal family in Scandinavia in the first 38 years. His purpose was to "prove" that the new king and his supporters in Illyria were faithless and "utterly abandoned rascals" - a people impossible to rule, as they dismissed the royal candidate of Justinian. Among these words he also indicated that they were homosexuals – raging words used today in connections which this uncertain kind of historical foundation does not support.
Regarding the number of Heruls, who settled in Scandinavia with the royal family, it is worth to notice that the Illyrian group made up an important unit in the Byzantine army. This in spite of a massacre on the people in Illyria after 512 AD. Procopius counted around 448 AD 3.000 soldiers in the army of Datius and 1.500 in the Roman army, and in 553 AD he counted 3.000 soldiers in the Roman army – around 12% of the army.
The position of Datius in opposition to Justinian inside the empire was impossible and he was soon expelled to the Gepides north of the Danube at River Tizsa. Both people were in 567 AD destroyed by the Romans and the Avars. A daughter of Hrodolphos, Silinga, was married to the Lombardic king Wacho and her son, Valthari, was crowned as king of the Lombards. He died young and the only Herulian dynasty being later mentioned in Southern Europe was a branch of the descendants of Phara, who were a part of the Agilofingi dynasty of the Bavarians at the Upper Danube.
1.2. The Scandinavian connections before 509 AD
The migration of the royal family to Scandinavia was no coincidence as the Heruls had a close connection with Scandinavia, which had nothing to do with their origin. The connection can be divided into several stages based on archaeology combined with history:
1.2.1. The Eastern Heruls 375-454 AD (Phase A1)
Remains from Hunnic burial rites in Soesdala indicate that a group of Hunnic horsemen and their East Germanic followers (ae. Heruls and Ostrogoths) operated at the Scandinavian Peninsula in the first half of the 5th century before or during the campaign of Attila – maybe in order to recruit Scandinavian warriors for the campaign. As the same type of sacrificed horse equipment is found in great numbers in the Scandinavian war booties in the bogs of Finnestorp and Vennebo some of these horsemen were probably killed, when they tried to penetrate Vestergoetland. The character and the number indicate that they were no returning mercenaries. Lotte Hedeager has described these remains as the result of a more general Hunnic strategy placing for a short period in the first part of the 5th century strongholds in Northern Germania during their campaigns. In this way the Huns got a strong influence on the Scandinavian religion.
1.2.2. The Eastern Heruls 454-509 AD (Phase A2)
After the Heruls established their kingdom in Moravia around 454 AD several archaeological finds indicate a continuation of the earlier Hunnic connection between Scandinavia and the East Germanic people in South Eastern Europe - ae. Bornholm, Scania, Finnestorp and Hoegom in East Scandinavia and Eveboe and Snartemo at the western coast of Norway. Among these artefacts are Hunnic/East Germanic saddles and their type of arrow heads. A special kind of a sword pommel with animal heads in Scandinavian Style I is only found similar in the South in the above mentioned Herulian grave in Blucina, Moravia, and in another version in the tomb of Childeric in Tournais, but several pieces are found in graves and sacrifices in Scandinavia near the trade route. More generally the Scandinavian fibulas in the region of the Baltic Sea are influenced by East Germanic stylistic elements like rosettes and curved heads with three knops. Opposite the curved fibulas with more than three knops from the Allemanni and the Franks never reached Scandinavia.
At the left the three knopped curved fibula with rosettes from Sokolnice near Blucina (450-475 AD). Usual in Moravia, but 3 pieces at Bornholm with later local replicas at the Baltic coasts. At the right the frieze at the mausoleum of Theodoric, a mount from Finnestorp and the Scandinavian Gummarp-fibula.
Especially the chieftain in a mound in Hoegom in Norrland had close connections with the Hunnic and East Germanic people. It was this region Jordanes praised for its precious furs, which appear to have been one of the most important export articles of Scandinavia at that time. He was probably a part of a network of chieftains along the trade routes at both sides of the Scandinavian Peninsula, extending the old Amber Route from Carnuntum - a network which appears to have used the CIIa1 bracteat. Apparently the rich dynasty in Hoegom disappeared from that area around 500 AD.
The Heruls probably used their knowledge from their early connections as Hunnic allied and decided to keep control with the Amber Route through the Moravian Gate in the Carpathes when they established their new kingdom - rather by taxation than as merchants. According to Procopius that was also the way they treated their neighbors. Some of the Heruls should in that case be expected to ride north in order to inspect the possibilities and negotiate deals about trade and protection - or as mercenaries in Scandinavian service. Neither can we exclude that a small group of Heruls and other allied following the Huns in the beginning of the fifth century had settled in Blekinge/Vaerend.
It is important to be aware of the mixture of people being initially mentioned. This makes it impossible to separate the Heruls by archaeology from the other East Germanic people following the Huns. Probably the population in the Herulian kingdom included besides Heruls i.e. Sarmatic Alans, Huns, Thuringians, Sciri and the earlier population of Swebes. Ostrogoths and Rugians may have taken part, but their own dynasties waged war on the Heruls and other East Germanics until some times after 493 AD, and all Gothic attention was turned against the Romans. We must therefore expect the Heruls to block the Gothic and Rugian access to the trade route through the Moravian Gate. It is therefore most likely that the Scandinavian connection at that time were the followers of the Herulian dynasty. When the Ostrogoths later became superior of the Heruls they were Christians and busy in Italy. They had no reason to settle in Scandinavia before their defeat around 550 AD - and hardly at that time either.
The archaeology cannot tell us with certainty if the style and items were brought to or from Scandinavia by Heruls, by Huns, by Scandinavians or by trade, but the history can tell us that the Heruls controlled the key area passed by the route along which the spread took place - giving in one way or the other the contact against north, which will explain their expectations and the later events.
Due to their blurred archaeological profile and their missing historical writing some scholars have claimed that the Heruls were just a band of warriors - i.e. Alvar Ellegaard. That must be due to insufficient study of texts like the one of Procopius as it is obvious that they were an ordinary migration people with women and children and with their own dynasty, gods and traditions - keeping together for 300 years.
1.2.3. The Western Heruls 286-509 AD (Phase B)
As a more or less independent parallel the Western Heruls living at the North Frisian coast probably harried the south westerly Scandinavian coasts - just as they according to the sources harried Gallia in 409 AD and Spain in the 450'ies AD. These Heruls had served as Roman mercenaries - mostly in England in the 4th century - but after the Romans left England and the emperor was removed their mercenaries had to find other sources of income. They were mentioned for the last time in the historical sources in 478 AD. It is obvious to suspect that they were among the mercenaries being called to England by the Britains in 448 AD. Later many of the other Western Heruls probably went back to England together with their Anglo-Ssaxon neighbors, but some of them may have turned north against the Scandinavian kingdoms as military advisors and mercenaries. These suggestions, however, are hypotheses which will be discussed in a later chapter.
This shield painting is known from the West Herulian mercenaries in the Italian infantry unit "Herules Seniores". It was found in a medieval copy of Notitia Dignitatum from the beginning of the 5th century AD. Consequently we cannot be sure of this picture - and we do not know which symbol is behind the circles. The circle was ao. a symbol of the sun in the soldiers' Mithras Cult - worshipped in temples along the Wall of Hadrian in England, where the Heruls were posted together with the Bataves. It is unknown whether the Eastern Heruls used the same symbols, but circles and half circles are recognized at many artifacts found in their tracks.
1.3. Conclusion regarding the history
The archaeological Scandinavian connections mentioned above are here only used as indications explaining why the Heruls, who did not want asylum at the East Roman or Gothic Christians, went north with their pagan royal family. The explanation is supporting the contemporary, independent second hand reports by Jordanes and Procopius regarding the presence of the Heruls in Scandinavia in the 6th century. This will lead us to the simple conclusion:
There is no reason to doubt that a group of high-ranking Heruls with their followers settled somewhere at the Scandinavian Peninsula around 510 AD. The open question is: Where, how and how many?
As a historian the leading expert in the Heruls, professor Andreas Schwarcz from the University of Vienna, has agreed in this final conclusion regarding Scandinavia. He has suggested that they were integrated in one or more Scandinavian people, but has left that question open for the archaeologists and speculation in Norse literature.
How could the leading dynasty of this strong and feared people of warriors disappear in Scandinavia without a trace in archaeology or legends? That is one of the many neglected questions our conclusion should lead to.
2. Their settlement in Scandinavia
2.1. Five questions by Aake Hyenstrand
Scandinavian historians and archaeologists have - with a few exceptions - ignored "the return" of the Heruls only being interested in their "Scandinavian origin". That in spite of the fact that only their arrival in the 6th century is confirmed by history. Instead the substantial development in Scandinavian culture in the end of the Migration Ages (especially in Sweden) has been regarded as an internal expansion - in spite of its obviously international character. In modern times first of all Birgit Arrhenius has pointed out the clear East Germanic influences on the first stages of the Vendel Culture, which probably made Aake Hyenstrand to ask his five questions about the Heruls in 1996 (both professors in archaeology at the University of Stockholm):
Which connections exist
- Between Heruls and Svear?
- Between Heruls and the god Eric?
- Between Heruls and the powerful elite later called Earls?
- Between Heruls and Boat graves?
- Between Heruls and Runes?
In 2007 Lotte Hedeager (professor of archaeology at the University of Oslo) first time presented her hypothesis that the Huns for a short while in the beginning of the 5th century established strongholds in Scandinavia and got a strong influence on Scandinavian cosmology and iconography - which does not conflict with this article. Quite opposite she is confirming that the Scandinavian archaeologists have neglected the strong Southeast European influence on Scandinavia in those turbulent years, and that a nomadic people would leave very few direct traces. If her hypotheses regarding the Huns are found too excessive the historically attested presence of their Herulic companions can explain her observations.
Of course the questions about the Scandinavian hypotheses being indicated here may not be fully answered. We cannot, however, avoid them in this time of change if we want to describe the development in Scandinavia leading to the famous Vendel Era. Hyenstrand himself found that idea obvious, but no official answers have ever been published. Below the intention is to answer the questions as well as possible - but in another order. Afterwards the question about the settlement of the Heruls will be answered as an example with the most likely scenario.
2.1.1. Heruls and Runes?
188.8.131.52. The first runes
The first inscription in runes, "HarjaR", was from around 160 AD. It was at a comb, probably from Northern Germany, but it was found in a war booty in Viemose at Fyen. Most of the runes in the Roman Iron Ages until 375 Ad are concentrated around South Western Norway, Fyen and Eastern Sealand - if we ignore the war booties in Jutland having a foreign origin. Maybe this pattern indicates a connection with the Western part of the culture connecting Himlingoeje at Eastern Sealand, Avaldsnes in Norway and Badelunda in the Maelar Valley. Opposite there are no early runic finds in the Herulic areas of that time except a single one in Moldavia. Consequently there is no reason to refer the origin of the runes to the Heruls.
184.108.40.206. The ErilaR inscriptions
Turned primarily against the south westerly coasts of Denmark, Norway and Sweden 10 runic inscriptions with "ek erilaR" ("I the Eril") are found from around 450-550 AD. If the word meant Herul it was probably connected with the Western Heruls with this kind of spread of the inscriptions. Earlier there was no doubt that "erilaR" was identical with "Herul". Later that was opposed by dogmatic linguists who still accepted that it could have been the background for the title "earl"/"jarl". The rejection of the connection between Herul and ErilaR is according to the Russian runologist, Makaev, done on wrong premises as the transferal of names between different language groups does not follow the rules of linguistic evaluation. "The missing link" between the Latin/Greek (H)erul and the Germanic Eril is found in the old kingdom of the Heruls at the Danube in shape of the place names "Herilungoburg" (832 AD) and "Herilungowelde". Runologists have interpreted ErilaR as "rune master", but the title "earl" is more likely taking the military role and qualifications of the Heruls into consideration.
An exception is the fragment of stone found in a church wall at the southern shore of the Maelar (Straengnaes). The find has been hidden for the public for 50 years - claiming it was a fake, which is now refuted by several examinations. The reason was the clear and inconvenient text ".rilaR . wodinR". The carving indicates that it could be a little younger than the other inscriptions. The connection between the ErilaR and the Woden cult is obvious - but it also indicates a connection between the Maelar region and Southern Germany, where the other early Woden-inscription was found in Nordendorf.
220.127.116.11. The Marings and the Roek Stone
From the 5th century two runic inscriptions are known from the Danubian region where the Eastern Heruls were operating. Totally 6 runic inscriptions have been connected with the Ostrogoths due to the syllable "s" and words used by Wulfila, but as the Heruls probably spoke the same language and the Goths had developed another alphabet at that time it is more likely that the runes are Scandinavian or Herulic. The Pietrossa Ring is mentioning the name Goths, but may have been a gift or written by a Herul or Scandinavian. The other find - a buckle in Pannonia opposite the mouth of River March - has the inscription "Marings". According to the simple logics of naming the Marings should be the people from Mar, which was the name of river March according to Tacitus. That region was the kingdom of the Heruls under the later Germanic name Maehren, which like the "Eloi" of Jordanes meant marsh areas, corresponding in this way even with the later Slavic names Morava/Moravia. The scholars have combined Marings with the Old English poem "Deor" which tells: "Theodoric held for 30 winters Maeringa Burg". Maeringa Burg must be the stronghold in Ravenna, where the Heruls and Odoaker were besieged in two years by Theodoric. Accordingly there is no reason to believe that the name meant "Goths" as many scholars have done without being able to explain the origin of "Mar" in that case.
The scholars could have used the name as a key to the interpretation of the Roek Stone
in Oestergoetland, which according to the official reading by Riksantikvaraembetet is mentioning Theodoric as "chief of sea warriors" (which is unknown as a Gothic label) and "first of Maerings" – the last being a runic diminutive form like Marings. Before that stanza is a riddle “who 9 generations ago lost his life with the Hreidgoths, and died at them for his guilt.” The riddle appears to be answered in the next stanza with “Radulf”, which is the same as “Hrodolphus”, the king of the Heruls, who 9 generations before the stone was appointed "weapon son" under the protection of Theodoric and died when he sustained the anger of the Gods. In that way the the Heruls were now in the Viking Ages sea warriors in Scandinavia and may have been called Marika too. The name combinations correspond in all directions – even if the Marika were the Goths. In the first numbered riddles at the stone Varin simply traced his family back to the weapon son of the Germanic hero, Theodoric, and his family going to Scandinavia. In that way it became a very traditional element at the memorial for a dead son - and it was set up according to the culture which a few decades earlier had merged at the court of Charlemagne.
It is all very simple in this way. The pieces of the puzzle have been wrongly combined - with the result that the scholars nowhere were able to explain names and connections. When the
Eastern Heruls arrived to River Mar(us) they may have got the byname Marings/Marika to
distinguish them in the West from their kinsmen - the Western Heruls, who in Scandinavia were
known as ErilaR. In Scandinavia names and legends indicate that the Eastern Heruls were also
confused with the Huns they had followed.
It has to be mentioned that the interpretation of the Rök Stone is still eagerly discussed among the runologists.
18.104.22.168. The rune stones in Blekinge
In Blekinge the three rune stones at Lister and the Björketorp-stone have traditionally been combined with the Heruls. They are from the transition period between the 24- and 16-sign futharks, and they are consequently dated to the time 500-700 AD. The connection with the Heruls has primarily been based on the repeated combinations of the names Hariwulf - Hathuwulf - Heruwulf. In that way we do not have the same certainty as on the Roek Stone, but the odd sentence "put staves 3 fff" at the Gummarp Stone will explain a sign at the Roek Stone, which according to the runologists is unexplained though they agree it should be a "th". The sign is combined by fff og a reverse fff, which can mean "th" (3,3 in ciffercode). "fff" must be a religious incantation like the word "futhark" where the "f" is the first sign - and in that way it will be a common cultic feature between the stones in Blekinge and Roek.
22.214.171.124. Other runes after 509 AD
After the Heruls arrived to Scandinavia the spread of the runes changed. They were now spread in Scandinavia, England, Frisia and north of the upper Danube - correlating the areas where the Eastern and Western Herulian dynasties established after the defeats in Southern Europe. From that time the first runes are found mentioning Wodin in the Maelar Valley and at the Upper Danube.
Based on the arguments above we must conclude that there is no reason to believe that the Heruls invented the runes, but the pattern of spread indicates that the Heruls were some of the later users, who spread the runes.
2.1.2. Heruls and Earls?
126.96.36.199. Niels Lukman and Barði Guðmundson
The Danish scholar, Niels Lukman, elaborated in 1943 in his doctoral thesis on the theory that the Heruls became earls in the Danish kingdoms. He suggested that their families brought the many legends from Central and South Eastern Europe to Scandinavia. He wrote in German during the German occupation of Denmark giving his theories no future in Denmark in the following decades. In 1959, however, he was supported by the national Icelandic antiquarian, Barði Guðmundsson, who connected a transfer of Herulic legends to the Icelandic sagas with East Scandinavian settlers at Western Iceland. Since then no scholars have used these theories as the folklorists are of the opinion that legends cannot be remembered for so many years. As we are talking about distorted fragments this argument will only work as a rejection of the sagas as historical sources, and Lotte Hedeager has pointed out the similarity between many of these legends and the archaeology.
188.8.131.52. A likely explanation
Without using the legends as an argument it must be a fact that the West Herulian officers and mercenaries lost an important source of income when the West Roman emperor left England and his empire later collapsed. They had to find work elsewhere. In the 450'ies AD they performed the Viking raids against Spain, but such ships could just as likely bring them the shorter route against north. At that time the new Scandinavian kingdoms emerged with an obvious market for the experienced Herulic officers as military advisors and army commanders. Those, who did not join the Anglo-Saxons to England in the same role, would hardly leave out that possibility. Probably the "Ek erilaR" inscriptions shall be regarded as their "carte de visite" - and it is no surprise if they brought Wodin with them as the Straengnaes-inscription indicates. Their role leads to the titles "jarl" in Scandinavia and "eorl" in England - and in that way the well-known cultural connection between these areas may have been established. After the defeat of Odoaker also Eastern Herulian mercenaries may have followed the trade route against north playing the same role as their kinsmen. An example of such a role model in the legends could be the Starkad figure - Sterkedius was even the name of an East Germanic officer in Rome. In the Vendel Era in Uppland a more formalized structure of earls was apparently established - symbolized by the ring swords (an earlier Frankish tradition) and the golden rings, as shown above at the helmet plate (matric) from Thorslunda.
It is very likely that the title jarl/earl has a background in Herulian mercenary officers - even without using the linguistic background as an argument - but it is not possible to prove that.
2.1.3. Heruls and Svear?
184.108.40.206. The general development in Scandinavia 400-600 AD
In the first half of the 5th century the golden bracteates appeared. Some of the C-bracteates were apparently connected with the cult of Odin. Soon after the sacrifices disappeared from the bogs and the burial customs were changed to flat burials and especially cremations directly in the field. Together these changes could indicate a change in religion, where the Germanic Wothen during the next two centuries spread from south west and became the Norse god Odin.
In the 6th century new greater kingdoms emerged - i.e. the Danes were now mentioned for the first time by Southern historians in 3 cases. The military equipment became more uniform and was more rapidly and contemporarily changed. The burial mounds had in a few cases been used in Norway and Hoegom, but now the big royal mounds were raised in Sweden - with the mounds in Uppsala as the greatest. Also Lejre was established in the 6th century as a small copy of Uppsala making now - among the known settlements - Uppaakre, Lejre and maybe Gudme the most important centers of the Danes. Also the first boat graves appeared in the second part of the 6th century - especially in Uppland, where they are supposed to represent a new structure of vassals or earls. They are a symbol of the Vendel Culture, where Uppland emerged as the power center of Scandinavia.
In this period of change Europe was also hit by a climatic catastrophe with "the three dark years" 536-538 followed by "the disease of Justinian". In that period especially the Scandinavian famine must have weakened the old dynasties connected with the failing fertility gods - being an advantage to the new Odinistic warrior dynasties as the Heruls.
Archaeology indicates a connection between the Vendel Culture, the Anglian part of England, Southern Germany and Lombardia - such as identical pictorial motives at the helmets, Animal Style II, runes and the name Woden (no runes and Woden-names in Lombardia). That spread is identical with the last places where we heard about Herulic dynasties outside Scandinavia. The spread could indicate dynastical connections between these places. Opposite the military equipment was nearly the same in all the Germanic societies.
220.127.116.11. The place of arrival - Blekinge/Vaerend?
As mentioned the Heruls arrived to Scandinavia from the Varni. Probably they were sailed directly to the Scandinavian Peninsula by their earlier allied, and it is most likely that they landed in Scania or Blekinge without any fight against the Danes. The text could imply that they simply passed the Danes in Scania by boat. When reading the combination Jordanes/Procopios the explanation will be that they first settled in Blekinge/Vaerend between Danes and Goetes - which already von Friesen pointed out based on archaeology. Beside the many East Germanic finds in the area the archaeologists first of all paid attention to the rune stones in Blekinge and the first Scandinavian boat grave in the Migration Ages, which is situated near the rune stones. More important is probably the globe stone on Inglingehoeg at Thorsjoe, as the ornamentation is similar with East Germanic fibulas - and the Soesdala-mount from Vennebo shown above. Maybe the symbolism even point at the big monolith at the Mausoleum of Theodoric. A similar stone is found in a mound next to the chieftain in Hoegom. The way to cut the hard stone was hardly done by Scandinavians as no similar work is known at that time in Scandinavia (the Gotlandic stones are of another kind). Close to Inglingehoeg the legendary Blotberg (blot=sacrifice) is found with 12 mounds from the Iron Ages at the small location "Odensjoe".
It is possible that the Heruls had a temporary settlement in Blekinge/Vaerend, but as they were no farmers they had no chance to live there - except if they began looting and tributing the Goetes and the Danes in Scania. This may be the reason why the Sjoerup Style was found in Finnestorp and the Danes formed a stronger alliance expelling the Heruls - and became in this way known for the first time in the South. Such an event may even be reflected in Beowulf, Widsith, Snorre and Saxo - though the names were mixed up so long time later.
18.104.22.168. The final settlement?
According to the historical sources a final settlement shall be found at the Scandinavian Peninsula and we shall according to Procopius' explanation about the Herulian delegation look for a place far north of the Danes. The place shall fulfill three conditions:
1. It shall be a place generating values which could be picked up by the Heruls, who according to Procopius had lived of warfare, looting and payment for protection.
2. It shall be a place where changes in the 6th century showed strong international influence.
3. We shall find there the necessary traces of a nomadic people of mercenaries - but as in Southern Europe these traces will be few.
22.214.171.124.1. Norway, Goetaland and the islands
The Norwegian west coast could have been a target due to the connections in the 5th century, but these small isolated societies flourished already in the 5th century and no substantial expansion is realized in the beginning of the 6th century pointing at an arrival of the Heruls.
Also Vestergoetland flourished already in the 5th century with rich golden treasures and the famous golden neck rings. The finds pointing at East Germanic people are war booties indicating that the local people there were able to keep the intruders out, because these people at the Swedish plains according to Jordanes were used of a pressure on their borders. Just like the Gudme area they had contacts with the Black Sea in the beginning of the Migration Ages. The later sacrifices in Finnestorp have a clear East Germanic touch, but the culture in the area still appear to be local - even though Herulian earls may have supported the development at a later stage.
A few scholars do now attempt to date the Sparloesa Stone
in the 6th century, but that interpretation does hardly work as both the runic text, the house and the ship indicate a dating in the late 8th century. Therefore the stone cannot be used as a proof of an early dating of a connection.
Neither in Halland nor Oestergoetland we know centers indicating the arrival of such a people. Even though the Roek Stone is found in Oestergoetland it may be caused by a branch of the royal family moving there some time in the following 300 years - and the text of the Sparloesa Stone even indicate such a movement from Uppsala.
At Oeland the impressing and unusual strongholds of stone were erected, but that too was in the 5th century - as the above mentioned civilizations. If the strongholds had anything with the Heruls to do they were rather provoked by the Hunnic and East Germanic horsemen in the 5th century. Besides Procopius told they remained in Thule, and the Eastern Heruls were horsemen - leaving out the islands.
All the places mentioned above may have received Herulian mercenaries - or for that sake Ostrogoths who believed Scandinavia was their original home. This may be one of the reasons behind the uniform military development in the 6th century.
126.96.36.199.2. The Maelar Valley
It is obvious that the Maelar region fulfilled the two first conditions above. It was placed at the trade route from north (Hoegom) mentioned by Jordanes - the same route the Heruls had controlled in Moravia - and the iron in Bergslagen was another source of growing wealth. Furthermore the changing level of the sea caused an increase of arable land in the region for cattle and agriculture, while other societies had exhausted their land. The mounds and especially the content of the boat graves indicate a new structure of the society. Here we find the expansion the Heruls could make use of according to their historical record and here we find in the Vendel Culture the changes they would cause.
Uppsala and the Vendel Culture was archaeologically characterized as the power center of the Scandinavian Peninsula from the 6th century - a culture being initially strongly influenced by an East Germanic culture with contact to the regions where the Herulian dynasties still appeared to live. Here Birgit Arrhenius emphasized especially the shield boss, a buckle and a mount from the Vendel boat grave XIV, which is regarded to be the first of the boat graves. Identical items are found at River Tizsa in Romenia, to where Datius escaped to the Gepides. The shield boss is of a type which is typical for Vendel in those years. Another identical shield boss is found in a tomb at the Rhine containing also items of Gepidic character. The time connections may indicate that it belonged to the Datius-group where the survivors probably may have escaped towards the north west after the destruction of the Gepides and the Illyrian Heruls in 565 AD. Vendel XIV also contained one of the famous helmets for parades. They were made in Scandinavia but looked like Roman cavalry helmets from the 5th century - belonging to people who played on and had a strong veneration for a past as Roman mercenaries.
The content and character of the Ottars' Mound in Vendel and maybe Sami-DNA in a boat grave may indicate a connection with the society of Hoegom in Norrland being influenced by East Germanic culture. This society appears to have been left in the beginning of the 6th century. Opposite Hoegom the mound contained a cremation. In the ashes was found a very seldom coin from the East Roman emperor Basiliscus ruling only in the year 476 AD, when Odoaker dismissed West Roman Emperor. This coin is also known from the tomb of Childeric. Maybe the dynasty from Hoegom met their Herulic allies in Uppland and joined them. Here in Uppland a new center of richness emerged based on the fur trade route via Helgoe and the new iron extraction in Bergslagen - activities which without any doubt would attract the Herulian warrior kings. This was exactly what they needed.
The three royal mounds in Uppsala are dated inside the interval 500-625 AD - which was the time when the Heruls established in the area. The eldest mound in the middle is not excavated, but it is known to contain a cremation packed with stones as the two other mounds. The East Mound contains a woman and maybe also a boy burned at temperatures so high that nearly everything in the mound was destroyed. Among the fragments was a helmet for a woman or a child with a helmet plate identical with some of the plates in Sutton Hoo in East Anglia. The motive is two dancing warriors with horned helmets - probably from the Germanic mercenaries, Cornuti, in the Roman army. In the mound also two simple female articles for daily use were found - a makeup palette and a mirror with an eye to be hanging in the belt. Both belong to the women of the nomads in South Eastern Europe, and the mirror is found in 100 examples at the Danube and at the Black Sea. North of the Danubian Basin only two such mirrors are found - one in Thuringia and the one in Uppsala. Therefore the East Mound of Uppsala must contain a woman of East Germanic/Sarmatian family - the Herulic mixture of people. The West Mound is the youngest containing fragments of glass from the Black Sea, ivory gaming pieces from South Eastern Europe and Sassanidian camees.
The new cremation customs in the Maelar region are quite opposite the old burial customs of the Heruls as no cremations are found where they operated in Southern Europe. As Procopius could tell about pagan Heruls burning their dead in big fires, he must have described the habits the Heruls in Scandinavia being referred by followers of Datius. The Heruls must have changed their burial customs, when they were integrated in Scandinavia, which may have been a part of the general changes of the burial customs being observed at that time by archaeology.
No characteristics of the Heruls are known in the areas where they lived in South Eastern Europe - except maybe the burial mounds from the 5th century in Moravia/Marchfeld being connected with Uppsala by Czeckish archaeologists. The Heruls were ethnically so mixed and had joined so many other people that they cannot be separated from other East Germanic people following the Huns. Taking into consideration the very limited material being left from the cremations in Uppland we can conclude that we have found all the traces we could expect to find after a Herulian dynasty and their followers being integrated as a minority with the local people. Most of the mounds and boat graves being excavated are from more than 50 years after they left Moravia.
Even when the contacts after the destruction of the East Germanic people turned against the Franks - or rather their pagan easterly neighbors - the content of the boat graves is still of the same character as the other rich European princely graves. Only local patriots - or people caught by the promising ideas of Olof Rudbeck - can claim that the Vendel Culture is based on an internal Swedish development.
Of course the flourishing of Uppsala is not an argument which can stand alone, as such a people in the theory could arise as a reaction on the arriving Heruls - as the Danes. Opposite no places are found with a development substantial enough to match this dominating East Germanic people. If this was the case too much East Germanic influence is found in Uppsala and the boat graves.
As late as in the 11th century this center in Uppsala was described by Adam of Bremen as the centre of Odin, where Odin, Thor and the old Vane-god Frej were worshipped side by side.
In the theory the Vendel culture may have arisen as an alliance against the Herulian dynasty supported by other Herulian earls. Consequently the conclusion is based on the fact that no other place is found with substantial changes matching this strong people of warriors. This does not exclude that such a place has existed, even though it should have been indicated by mounds. Therefore the conclusion regarding the connection between Heruls and Svear should be:
The most probable explanation is that the Eastern Heruls settled in the Uppsala region and that their dynasty as kings or earls became a part of the dynasty of the Svear. The archaeology does show the necessary tracks of that.
2.1.4. Heruls and boat graves?
Boat graves are unknown in the areas where the Heruls lived in the South and they do not make much practical or symbolic sense regarding the East Heruls. Boat graves are known from Bornholm in the Roman Iron Ages and must be regarded as a Scandinavian development. The boat graves were hardly a Herulian idea.
The content of the boat graves in Uppland is similar with the content of the other pagan princely graves in Europe. These customs were probably in Scandinavia combined with the boats as a mixed burial custom. As mentioned Birgit Arrhenius has emphasized the East Germanic connection with the early Vendel Culture - hereunder Vendel XIV - where the spread of the boat graves appear to be connected with a structure of earls, which the Heruls knew from Odoaker and Theodoric.
The connection between Heruls and boat graves will therefore be an indirectly consequence of the earlier questions about Earls and Svear.
2.1.5. Heruls and Eric - the god?
188.8.131.52. The god Eric
This question by Aake Hyenstrand referred to the biography of Ansgar by Rimbert who in the second part of the 9th century visited Birca and mentioned the considerations about raising a dead king Eric to a god. Hyenstrand referred to the royal names Eric, Alric and Rolf as Herulic, but no Herul is known by the name Eric and all these royal names are formed by general Germanic words. Therefore the name itself cannot be used to identify any Heruls, but it is relevant to discuss the more general connection between the ancestor gods and the pagan Germanic people like the Heruls – or the general change of religion as Lotte Hedeager has done with focus on the Huns.
184.108.40.206. Heruls and ancestor gods?
Procopius told about the Illyrian Heruls that these reckless barbarians worshipped a host of gods. Jordanes on his side told that the migrating Goths earlier - before they were baptised as Arian Christians - worshipped the heroes among their ancestors. He told that the Gothic word for ancestor gods was "ansis", which appear to be the background for the rune name "ansuZ" (God) and the divine group of "Ases". One of the first ancestors in "Getica" was Gapt. In the early royal genealogies in England from the 7th century Geat and Wothen were placed in front - indicating a similar connection between the gods and the royal ancestors there. Gapt and Geat were possibly identical with the god named Gaut, who in the ON poem Grimnismal was mentioned as an earlier name for Odin - the main god of the Ases.
In spite of the mentioning of ancestor gods Jordanes also told that the war god of the Goths was earlier Mars, just as Procopius told that the main god in Scandinavia was a wargod (Ares/Mars). A war god as main god was probably Odin - though he was not a real wargod in his later shape.
Earlier the gods in Scandinavia were Mercurius, Tyr, Nerthus and Ing according to Tacitus. The two last gods may have been fertility gods of the old society of independent farmers - the Vanes.
When the warrior elite emerged the importance of the gods changed too. The main god of the Scandinavian warrior elite, Odin, probably first arrived as the Westgermanic or Hunnic inspired god Woden/Wothan in the 5th century. Maybe he had a parallel in a North- or East Scandinavian cousin Gaut. Some of his shamanistic features could even together with the animal styles point back against the Hunnic/Scythic/Sarmatic nomads. The Heruls may have brought with them some of these elements of the maingod, but he existed in Scandinavia before their royal family arrived as pointed out by Lotte Hedeager.
The mixed Pantheon is mainly known from the Norse literature and will be discussed in a later chapter, as it cannot be used as arguments regarding the Heruls.
Apparently the Germanic people regarded their royal families as descendants of the gods - at least when the Ases were introduced. Obviously they used to raise heroes to gods as Jordanes and Rimbert told, but they also manipulated the royal lists by putting existing main gods in front of their royal genealogies - maybe a part of the change of religion.
Under all circumstances the development of the pagan religion with its mixture of ancestors, Ases and Vanes appear to be Germanic in general and was hardly caused by the Heruls alone.
2.2. A possible scenario
Based on the most probable answer a possible scenario can be that the Eastern Heruls sailed from the Varni to Blekinge and passed the Danes without suffering any violence. At the arrival they settled in Blekinge/Vaerend - maybe around Thorsjoe/Odinsjoe. The archaeology indicate that there may already have been a settlement there of former allies or East Germanic horsemen from the earlier Hunnic expeditions. As they were no farmers and the local farmers were few they had to take up their usual plundering and threat of their neighbors. Consequently the "Danish Nations" made an alliance and threatened to do like the Lombards. The Heruls focused instead on the economic and strategic position of the Swedes - if this was not the final target from the very start. Many combinations of possibilities will now lead to the same result. The king of the Svear may have called on the Heruls as professional advisors and mercenaries against neighbors threatening their expanding wealth - a problem at that time for the people on the Swedish plains according to Jordanes. It is impossible to say if they took power or simply became military commanders (earls/jarler) in the layer next to the king. It would be usual to make an alliance by marriage, which would place the Heruls in the top of the society. They could also later use their power as the Continental barbarians did in England according to Gilda and Bede. Alternatively the Heruls and their allied from Hoegom simply attacked the Svear and took power.
They established a new structure of earls at the Tuna-centers and planned an efficient integration of the two people, where i.e. burial customs and religion were harmonized. A part of the model for such a successful establishment of power they had learned from Theodoric 10 years earlier and Odoaker, and they themselves had been used to change customs after the people they served or followed.
The difference between the fiasco in Illyria and a possible success in Scandinavia was probably the monotheistic character of the Christian religion. It is obvious by reading Procopius that the Heruls in Illyria could not be accepted as true Christians. Opposite told the Saxon historian, Widukind, much later that the Scandinavians accepted foreign gods side by side with their own gods. The gods of the warrior elite, the Ases, could in that way be mixed up with the old fertility gods of the Svear, the Vanes - a development which had already started i Scandinavia before the Heruls arrived. As in the other Germanic people Woden and Frej were placed in front of the royal genealogy to secure the family's exclusive right to the throne - and at a later time the god Woden/Odin found his way into fragments of their old legends about the migrations of the people.
Centuries later the dynasty spread their power to other kingdoms - or escaped that way - where the rune stones in Sparloesa and Roek were raised 300 years later. In the same way Ynglingetal and Ynglingesaga were later written.
It is possible to put more details into the scenario above by reading Ynglingasaga by Snorre and the legends about Frode and Gylfe. This shall, however, be regarded as literature and not as historical sources as described below.
2.3. Conclusion about the settlement in Scandinavia
The questions by Aake Hyenstrand could not be answered without any doubt, but the main question about Heruls and Svear lead to the most probable explanation, which also indirectly answered most of the other questions. The answer based on a combination of history and archaeology without any use of legends leads to the following conclusion about Scandinavia:
There is no doubt that the Herulian dynasty was operating in Scandinavia in the 6th century and that there were connections between the Heruls and Scandinavia in the 5th century. The most probable explanation is that the Moravian Heruls settled in the Uppsala region and that their dynasty as kings or earls became a part of the dynasty of the Svear. The archaeology does show the necessary tracks of that, but archaeology will probably never constitute a proof.
The usual attitude has been that Uppsala and Vendel is only an internal development until the opposite is proven - with an article by the professor in English, Alvar Ellegaard, as the historical alibi. This attitude is - like the Straengnaes-episode - irresponsible as the risk is that the most likely explanation regarding the Heruls will be left out of most archaeological research and examinations - just as it is hardly mentioned in the Swedish literature.
3. The Norse literature
It has often been used as an argument against the Heruls in Scandinavia that they were never mentioned in the rich literature found in Northern Europe about the Scandinavian past. It is therefore necessary to evaluate this part of the literature too, though it is common for nearly all these works that they were written down 1000-1300 AD – long time after the events. Accordingly they can never be regarded as historical sources as such though they contain invaluable information about the Viking Culture.
Lotte Hedeager has as a part of her theories about the Huns suggested that the myth about Odin's journey in Ynglingesaga was inspired by Attila. In Iceland Snorri Sturlasson wrote in the Edda a dialog between the Svea-king Gylfe and the god Odin, but initially he told the traditional story about the origin of the gods and the royal family in Troy – a late Christian version. After travelling around in Scandinavia Snorri later told in Ynglingesaga another legend about a king, Odin, and his "men from Asia", who came from the surroundings of Tanais (River Don). This "Odin" first time settled at one of the several places called "Odinsey" – which could as well be Odinsjö in Sweden as at the Danish Odense as Snorre believed. From here the king negotiated with Gylfe. Later he moved to Sigtuna and got a temple in the town of Gylfe – Uppsala. He told about Odin merging the Ases and the Vanes – the Wothan cult of the warriors and the old Scandinavian fertility cult, where Tacitus' Nerthus and Ing were succeeded by Njord and Frej. He told how the king “Odin” was raised as a god – in accordance with the stories by Jordanes and Rimbert – a natural process in the history of religions. Then he told about a successful Scandinavian integration project, including new burial customs with cremation (except for Frej – the ancestor of the Ynglings).
Rather than the history of Attila this narrative may remind us of the history of the Eastern Heruls who also believed their origin to be Tanais according to Jordanes. Though Snorri's description of the route was based on the geographical understanding and the travel routes of the Mediaval Ages it is possible to recognize elements of the history of the Heruls and partly of their Hunnic kahn, Attila – though many of the old narratives probably had melted together over the long span of years. A settlement in two stages like the Heruls' – ending finally up in Uppsala.
We are not able to decide today how much of the works by Snorri are reconstructions and how much are fragments of old legends about the kings, where the gods in the traditional way were placed in the front. Rabid scholars have accused Snorri for inventing it all as a Christian in the 13th century in order to throw suspicion on the pagan religion as euhemeristic. The case is that he did not need to invent that. The Germanic ancestor cult and the cult around the Roman emperors were by nature euhemeristic. Quite opposite a lot of the material used by Snorri is known from earlier historians and poems.
In 2011 Lotte Hedeager presented in the end of her book a rehabilitation of the Danish scholar Niels Lukman – mentioned in chapter 220.127.116.11 – who claimed that the Heruls brought their old myths about their companionship with the Huns in Central Europe to Scandinavia and became known there as "Jarls". If we combine these two hypotheses – considering that the Heruls probably were regarded as a part of the Huns in Northern Europe and influenced by these Huns – her ideas will be in accordance with the history in the former chapters. This will apply regardless of an eventually deserved criticism by Ulf Naesmann regarding her historical and archaeological argumentation, and regardless of Niels Lukmann probably exaggerated how many Scandinavian mythical kings had an East Germanic or Hunnic origin.
Later in 2011 the publication of the Strängnäs inscription ".rilaR . WodinR" has even proved a connection between Wothan and ErilaR – an inscription which would have supported Lukman if it had been published in 1962 when it was found.
The journey in Ynglingesaga was just one example of possible traces of the Heruls in the North European literature, where the name Herul had disappeared – maybe because it was now understood as the title “jarl”/”earl”. Other examples can be found in Widsith and Beowulf containing maybe the event described by Jordanes, while Saxo possibly mixed them up with the Huns.
There is no doubt that the sources behind the sagas have been changed over the years – which the Icelanders were not able to see through. The Pantheon of Snorri is as example a frozen picture which only indirectly reflects the many differences locally and over time in a dynamic process – but most religious people regard their religion in that way too. Snorri told i.e. about the changes in burial customs in the 6th century which the archaeologists reveal in our time – just as Beowulf (and Snorri) described the boar helmets of the 6th century, which are now excavated. It is more likely that Snorri got this information from old poems than he invented such information. Neither could the Scandinavians have invented the East Germanic touch in many of the legends.
Maybe the manipulated and unreliable Scandinavian sagas and chronicles do in this way contain fragments of the history of this vagrant royal family and their superior Huns. It is of course interesting to search for the hidden tracks, which may put a new content in the legends and may explain how the Heruls could disappear in Scandinavia – but they cannot change the historical evidence.
4. Scandinavian perspectives
Under all circumstances the Heruls arrived to Scandinavia where they combined with the earlier impact of the Huns in Northern Europe must have been an important catalyst in the development process leading to the greater kingdoms of the Vendel Culture and the much later Viking Culture. They are most likely the explanation of the earls of Uppland, but we shall not regard them as the only reason for the Viking Culture as the looting, which made them famous, was a general backside of the culture around the warrior elite in the Iron and Viking Ages until a new combination of kingship and church changed this way of life in the Medieval Ages.
These hypotheses cover an area where it is normally impossible to prove anything according to usual scholarly criteria - except if new techniques as DNA-analyzes can help us. Unfortunately the historians have not (like other scholarly areas) found a method of reporting uncertainty - though all historical reports and analyzes contain uncertainty. The Scandinavian historians therefore avoid the Iron Ages. Some historians also avoid the Heruls as they are afraid to support right wing philosophies, but there is no such support in a people from South Eastern Europe being succesfully integrated in Scandinavia. The purpose of this article by an outsider is to combine the fragmentary historical and archaeological information in a more probable and coherent way - in the hope one day to inspire a scholar to find a convincing way out of the dead ends.
The old article was marked by current changes from more than ten years of research and discussions. It was in 2008 substituted by a new detailed pdf-article (heruls.pdf) with the same index as above. It provides the reader with notes and references, which are, however, still under construction.
June 23st 2012