Carruthers – Gotland – Ashman

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Carruthers – Gotland – Ashman


In the last two blogs, it was mentioned that all the Carruthers ancestors, no matter how it is spelled, have the same 32-36 DNA markers, and our earliest location is Gotland.  The same DNA takes us to 500 BC on the island of Gotland.

Gotland was in a perfect position to be a destination that people traveling would stop at. Its position in the middle of the Baltic Sea made the island a natural hub for contact between West and East. However, being an island also meant developing along different paths, creating special traditions and legends.
An island off the southwestern coast of what is now Sweden.



Traces of around 60 coastal settlements have been found on Gotland, says Dan Carlsson. Most were small fishing hamlets with jetties apportioned among nearby farms. Fröjel, which was active  up until 1150, was one of about 10 settlements that grew into small towns, and Carlsson believes that it became a key player in a far-reaching trade network. “Gotlanders were middlemen,” he says, “and they benefited greatly from the exchange of goods from the West to the East, and the other way around.”

There is no doubt that Gotland served as a central meeting point in the Baltic Sea. Commerce took place among people from widespread areas, both near and far. Objects found in excavations include artefacts from Continental Europe and the Arabian caliphate. Since they found artifacts from the Arabian countries, does that mean we raped and pillaged our way down there.  OH, you bet we did!  And we were damn good at it too!

Most astounding of all are the great silver treasures, which have become well-known throughout the world. The huge number of” silver hordes” finds bears witness to wealth found nowhere else at our latitude. They have found in excess of 180,000 coins on Gotland, in comparison to 80,000 coins in all of Sweden and Norway.  The coins show the extent of Gotland’s contact with the outside world and the trade that helped make the island so rich. Ornamental metalwork is often found in burials but also comes from hoards and bog finds. Our ancestors were great “metal spinners”.  Findinsg in iron, copper, and silver are numerous. Besides the coins, the gold is found in the form of thin, disk-shaped pendants stamped on one side (known as bracteates), sword pommels, scabbard mounts, and large, extravagantly decorated collars with applied decoration.

bronzenechlace     vikingsilver

Fishing and hunting of wild animals, including moose, bear, and reindeer as well as small mammals and birds, remained important throughout the Late Iron Age, along with agriculture based on raising cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats and growing barley, rye, oats, and flax on arable land as the climate allowed.  Gotland was the most agriculturally rich areas. In the far north, there were reindeer herders . The hunters, fisherman and farmers were the upper class on Gotland, during the iron age.

Characteristic house types were long rectangular houses like those known at Vallhagar near the west coast of Gotland, dating to the sixth century, apparently similar to later Viking Age halls of indigenous longhouse type that are described in saga literature.


Earlier than that in the Iron Age,  hillforts dot the landscape of the west coast of Gotland.   In coastal areas, they seem to provide refuge from sea attacks and protect waterways. Stone forts were built on the Baltic Islands, including Torsburgen on Gotlands.


The huge number of” silver hordes” finds bears witness to wealth found nowhere else at our latitude. They have found in excess of 180,000 coins on Gotland, in comparison to 80,000 coins in all of Sweden and Norway.  The coins show the extent of Gotland’s contact with the outside world and the trade that helped make the island so rich.Hoards of Roman solidi (gold coins) deposited on the Baltic Islands from the late fifth century through the mid-sixth century also reflect unrest in this period.


Because of the fact that our ancestors were such master of metal spinning, the helmets they made were of course the best.  They had the only metal helmet made with a protector for their nose.   Roman had helmets, but they did not know how to have any protecting over their face.  gotlandhelmet


Burials include both inhumation and cremation during the Late Iron Age, with single mounds gradually replacing mound groups yet with great variation in grave types. At 500 AD ornamental gold and bronze fragments were discovered and shown to be damaged by a cremation fire.  The ancestors were quite ritualistic.   They held elaborate funerals.


Many families had their own graveyard, and they would build the outline of a ship around were all their immediate family was buried.  These were called barrow graves.

gotlandbayeux warships

Our Ancestors were fierce shipbuilders. Because of their metal spinning craftsmanship, they could create the tools needed.   They made ships mainly out of Ash Trees, which became a very sacred tree to them. When a new life was created or one had left this world they always planted an ash tree.   When people from other regions saw the boats, they would put their order in, and thus it was quite profitable for the Ancestors.  This is where they made the most of their money.   Boats and ships were a major importance in everyday life and they were a symbol of wealth and power.  Our ancestors were advanced in wood carpentry and it is mentioned often that these ships were lighter, slimmer, stronger and faster.

Because of the importance and sacredness of the Ash Tree, used for personal rituals and  for making these excellent ships, we were referred to as Ashman.  That was our name on Gotland, before coming to Scotland.  You will still see that name, mainly in Europe and what is interesting to me that many of the people who write books about ships, shipping, and in the shipping business are Ashman.


Before we were Carruthers, we were Ashman!



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