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Monks from the Iona monastery sailed to the Orkneys, Shetlands, the Faroes and Iceland. (Ref. 33 ) It is even possible that St. Brendan, the patron saint of County Kerry, sailed to the coast of North America in a leather curragh with goat skin sails, in this century.

There is much of this in Irish legend and the 10th century book, Navigation Sancti Brendani, of unknown authorship, as well as some material evidence accepted by some established scholars including such things as 10th century Vikings' accounts of previous Irish navigators, possible ancient Irish Druid alphabet markings on Newfoundland rocks and "100 recognizable Celtic roots in words which were used by pre-European inhabitants of some of the places where Irish monks are supposed to have landed."

Quotation from "St. Brendan's Fantastic Voyage" by Gerald Schomp, (Ref. 126 )
Fell (Ref. 86 ) concurs in this.

In 590 Columba the Younger, also with twelve companions, went from his home in Leinster to France where he confounded the Merovingian king and founded monastic communities at Luxeil and Fontaine and then went on to Switzerland and Italy. At home, the Irish kings were finally converted to the Irish version of Catholicism, after the whole of Ireland was devastated by the yellow plague in the middle of the century. (Ref. 91 )

Wales

Fleeing before the invading Germanic tribes, thousands of Britons went to Wales and mingled there with the Welsh Celts and Irish to form the Cymri people and the country then became known as Cymru. The family and clan were the basis of the social order. Christianity came in this 6th century through Dewi (David), who was canonized as the patron Saint of Wales in A.D. 1120. (Ref. 222 ) This was also the era of the Mabinogen - Tales of the Bards of Wales.

Scandinavia

About A.D. 600 the Goths and the Svea of Sweden united to form the kingdom of Sweden. From that time on the Goths, as an entity, ceased to exist in the north, although a strong racial heritage is still seen throughout Sweden and especially on the island of Gotland. This was the time of the beginning of Scandinavian art with animal ornaments as the chief feature and which was to continue until the Viking Age.

The Danes had gold and silver and Roman money. Gradually it became the custom to seek one's living on the sea. With a population surplus and the other Germanic tribes blocking migration south by land, they sought paths of expansion on the open sea, although the true Viking Age was far in the future. Additional Notes

Eastern europe

Baltic area

The north-south expansion of displaced eastern Slavs between this and the 8th century cut the eastern Balts off from their western core, and in the west the Balts were confronted by Germanic expansion. Just south of the Gulf of Finland, some of the eastern Slavs took to the forests, wedging between the Finns and the Estonians. (Ref. 61 ) Most of Poland was occupied by various Slavic tribes who had not been disturbed by the Goths, Alans or Avars and their villages were not fortified until near the end of the century when they began to quarrel with each other. (Ref. 244 )

Russia

As the Germanic tribes moved west, the Slavs came out of the Pripet marshes, forested, swampy region about 38,000 square miles in area extending along the Pripet River, which is a branch of the Dnieper. (Ref. 8 ) Early in the century on the north shore of the Black Sea there were Kutrigur or Utigur Huns, along with a small pocket of Goths still on the Crimea. In the Caucasus there were Alans and north of them on the north shore of the Caspian were the Sabirian Huns and east of the Aral Sea were the Ephthalites.

In 559 the Avars, defeated by the Turks in eastern Asia, moved to the Russian steppe where Justinian paid them to control the resident Huns and Slavs who had been raiding the east Roman Balkan areas. These Avars, soon ruling from the Volga to the lower Danube, turned north and west until in 562 they came in contact with the Franks on the Elbe, establishing an extensive Avar Khanate. (Ref. 136 , 137 ) The Western Turks, coming behind the Avars in 576, took part of the Caucasus just west of the Caspian and there known as the Khazar, although Alans still controlled most of the western part of this region between the Black and Caspian seas. North of the Khazar and the now separate Western Turkish Khanate were principally Finnish people, sparsely settled, while the Slavs were still farther west and dominated by the Avars.

The Black Bulgars, originally a mixture of Huns, Ugrians and Turks, lived at this time in the valleys of the Don and Volga rivers. In this 6th and the 7th centuries there were 12 major Slavonic tribes in Russia, including the Polinians living on the middle Dneipner in the Kiev region. They lived in communities, held slaves, and were family oriented in a type of democratic society based to some extent on communal ownership of property. Many groups were governed by "elders" rather than by chieftains. They may have traded some with Byzantium, but the chief economy depended on agriculture of the cut and burn principle.

The Svear tribes traded sapphire colored skins through various intermediate tribes to Rome. There is some suggestion, though, that this was a time of crisis, possibly involving climate deterioration, soil exhaustion, deficiency disease in cattle, violent invasions, internal conflicts and possibly plague. The Swedish city of Helgö, however, apparently was not affected by the decline seen elsewhere. .Frisian settlements along the mainland coast were key centers for contact of the Scandinavians with western Europe. (Ref. 301 )

Forward to Europe: A.D. 601 to 700

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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