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The situation during the Bronze Age (c.1500-c.500BC) is disputed. Rock carvings in southern Sweden prove the symbolic importance of ships,spears and axes,all of which were associated later with Viking gods. They also show evidence of agricultural rituals and sun worship which were not found subsequently. There are large votive offerings of war booty in Danish peat bogs dating from the Celtic Bronze Age & Iron Age. However,all this evidence may not be significant in terms of belief as it may just point to a preoccupation with weapons,ships and graves natural for any societyin these periods of prehistory. Our major sources of knowledge about Germanic heathenism,however,are not mysterious Bronze Age carvings or scraps of information from Roman writers,but the archaeology of the Migration Age and Viking Age,together with heroic and mythic poetry and other written sources from the early Middle Ages. Most of these literary sources are Scandinavian,owing to the fact that this part of Europe was remote frome the influence of Rome and did not become Christian until the tenth century-far later than England or southern and central Europe. Even after conversion,Icelandic and Danish writers preserved the myths and legends for their intrinsic interest. Crucial to this preservation was the culture of the Vikings and their immediate descendants,notably the Icelanders. The term 'Viking,applied specifically to the seafaring Danes, Norwegians and Swedes who went raiding around the coasts of Europe, Ireland and Britain during the "Viking Age"(AD790-1050).However,the term can be loosely applied to all Scandinavians of this period,and to every aspect of their culture. The Vikings conducted the last of the great European migrations. Besides their raids,the Norwegians and Danes established permanent settlements in Normandy and England, controlled major trading towns in England and Ireland, colonized Iceland and Greenland, and briefly reached America in the early eleventh centry. Meanwhile,Swedes spread along the Baltic shores,and their traders followed river routes across eastern Europe and Russia which led as Byzantium. Their travels brought them in contact with Muslims as well as Christians.Some of the former left coolly ironic accounts of the strange ways of these infedel traders,but Christian chroniclers were too censorious of their religious practices to discuss other aspects of heathen Nordic life.

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