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point at issue was trivial: the principles of criticism involved were all-important; and the plain question of a youthful critic-" Whether the archæological material and the narrative of history had any real connexion?"remains to mark a new departure in the critical investigation of antiquities, the rise of a new method.
Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae, who had thus the temerity to call the common faith in question, was then a young man in his twentieth year. Born on the 14th March 1821 at Veile in Jutland, where his father, a man of good family, held the post of Public Receiver and Counsellor of Justice, he was educated at the Gymnasium of Horsen, and entered the University of Copenhagen at the age of seventeen. Shortly afterwards he was appointed assistant to Thomsen in the Museum of Northern Antiquities. At an age when most English youths of his position are still in statu pupillari, Worsaae won his first victories in science. The struggle with hoary error only served to strengthen in him those principles of investigation and critical comparison to which he owed his early success and title to be considered the founder of a new science. The criticism which stormed the "Heights" of Frode and Harald Hildetand and banished a host of august ghosts to the limbo of popular superstitions was not merely destructive. Sounder principles were then not only laid down but fully tested. Simple as they now may seem to a generation familiar with the brilliant.
results of nearly half a century's demonstrations, they were new to the science Worsaae followed, and nowhere systematically applied. "The conviction that information respecting ancient barrows which is not based on the personal observations of skilled investigators cannot be trusted," led him in 1844 to lay down the maxim, "that accurate and trustworthy descriptions of the excavations of barrows are an absolute necessity for the progress of archæology."
During the years 1842-1854-his WanderjahreWorsaae laid up rich stores of observation by travels. in Sweden Normandy Britanny and the British Isles. He also visited Naples and Rome, returning by France. Shortly afterwards he was chosen Professor of Archaology in Copenhagen. In the intervals of foreign travel he worked zealously on the lines he had already marked out. His "Olden Times of Denmark illustrated by Antiquities and Grave-Heights," which appeared in 1843, by its very title marked the new epoch. In 1847 he received a larger opportunity of putting his principles in practice by his appointment as Inspector of the Monuments of Danish Antiquities.
At this time the threatened hostilities between Denmark and the Duchies drew the attention of Danish and German archæologists to the antiquities of Schleswig-Holstein; and Worsaae came forward to defend.
1 German Translation, 1884; Lond. 1849, the "Primeval Antiquities of Denmark.".
the ancient Danevirke and Kurgrav against the attacks of German writers, eager to claim them as ancient bulwarks against the inroads of "foreign Scandinavianism" from the North.
A few years later he made a valuable contribution to our own early history by the publication of his "Account of the Danes and Northmen in England Scotland and Ireland," a work of which English and German translations appeared in the next year. Hitherto English historians, relying chiefly on their manuscript authorities or following the lead of German writers, had been mostly content to trace our institutions language manners and customs too exclusively to the Anglo-Saxon elements of our race. The Scandinavian settlements in our island were either ignored or reduced to a vanishing minimum by writers who assigned to their colonies only such traces of speech &c. as found no analogies, however remote, in the remains of Anglo-Saxon history.
The injustice of applying such a method of residues indiscriminately to all institutions and words, where many had their common origin in both branches of the great Teutonic family, must be obvious to every candid mind. Yet so deeply engrained is this fallacious method in the minds of Englishmen, that we still to a large extent detect its traces in our common dictionaries and popular histories; nor do we know of any English work of the kind that is wholly free from the taint of this prejudice. To Worsaae we owe the first compre
hensive statement and proof of the large Scandinavian remains in our national characteristics customs names and tongue. His account is based on those permanent irrefragable monuments which stand in our land as "pillars of witness,”—a surer guide to history than all the superstitious tales told by chroniclers and monkish annalists. If we will but read our early history thus, we shall cease to shudder sentimentally at the dark deeds of a dark age, and learn to take a just pride in that “pirate” ancestry, which gave us trial by jury and that innate spirit of adventure and love of the sea which have been the real making of England.
The same subject was pursued by Worsaae in various subsequent writings, particularly in his "Danish Conquest of England and Normandy " (1863), a work which has excited far too little attention among English historians.
In 1855 he received the charge and arrangement of the Royal Private Collections. In 1858 he was made Inspector of the Collections in the Rosenborg Castle; and Conservator of the Monuments of Danish Antiquities in 1861. Four years afterwards on the death of Thomsen he was chosen as his successor; and in the following year was appointed Supreme Director of the Museums of Ethnography Northern Antiquities and the Rosenborg Castle.
It is seldom that a single man is called upon to perform duties requiring such vast and varied knowledge
in science arts literature,-in a word, history. But in Worsaae the widest skill knowledge and practical ability were combined with an unflagging energy. He was no mere antiquary bent on a sordid accumulation of old curiosities. His interests covered all. His judgment guided him unerringly to the facts which lay buried in unsightly stones and mouldering weapons, in old church relics and tattered robes. His sound common sense taught him that a museum without order is for the historical student almost as uninstructive as the mixed type of a compositor's desk. Under his guidance the museums of Copenhagen have become endowed with voices of the past, which tell us more of man's history than any other collections in the world.
This is not the testimony of students only, attracted from afar by the value of these collections and the fame of their Director. In Denmark itself there exists among all classes a keen intelligent interest in these subjects, which is mainly due to our author and his able assistants. For Worsaae never lost his warm human sympathies. Savants were his willing disciples. Princes took pleasure in his conversation. Peasants and artisans listened with delight, while in clear forcible language he explained to them the objects of his teachings, and charmed them with his bright and gracious presence, which won all men. Amidst his manifold labours of business research and correspondence with