The Cimbri horde leaving all they knew and loved behind took their first steps on their remarkable journey. Many historians note that some of the Cimbri folk remained in the northern realms, so we can only imagine the scene as they said their goodbyes. The final hugs, the tearing eyes and the stern looks of encouragement, when family ties and loving bonds were severed as they set of on their fateful march for new lands.
The Cimbri though did not travel alone, Whatever forced them from their homelands, also had a devastating effect upon their neighbours, the Teutons and the Ambrones.
The Teutons were almost certainly related to the Cimbri. They lived in close proximity to them in the Northern Jutland peninsula and even possibly over the waters in modern day Sweden. The Teutons ferocious nature in battle was immortalised by the Roman poet Lucan, who in his work “De Bella Civili” coined the term “Furor Teutonicus”, to describe their almost frenzied presence on the battlefield. This being the first example of the better known “berserker” of Norse mythology.
As for the Ambrones There is little known about them, again though they are likely to be related to the Cimbri in some way. their numbers though were certainly not as vast as that of the Cimbri or the Tuetons. Most modern historians place them among the north Frisian islands off the west coast of Germany and Denmark, or possibly even the Danish Island of Fehmarn in the Baltic sea. They too were known for their ferocious nature, Plutarch states that they were “the most warlike of the enemy”.
The caravan being made up of Men, women and children and their supplies being limited to things that could be easily moved, their leader Boirix would have been charged with finding swift resolution to their situation. Be it securing land by peaceful means or violence, or even resorting to plunder, Boirix could not be picky if his beloved folk were to survive their risky venture.
Polybius gives us an example in his work “The histories” of what their most important supplies would have been. He states of the Gauls,
“Their possessions consisted of cattle and gold, because these were the only things they could carry about with them everywhere according to circumstances and shift where they chose. “
Although the historical record is vague on the early movements of the Cimbri, we know they moved south east. Given their Geographic position, they would almost certainly be involved in the trade of Amber. A rich resource on the coast lines of Denmark and a highly valuable commodity in ancient times. Because of this trade routes dating back to at least bronze age were well trodden and would be well known to the Cimbri.
This intimate knowledge of not only the local terrain, but also the people that resided within it, would make the amber road the most likely and sensible choice of passage. Not least because if your objective is land, where better to look than trade allies, who may have enemies you could help rid them of and in doing so gain the precious soil you crave? This would also serve to further secure the trade routes, vital to your kinsfolk left behind.
There is also possibility that the connections of the Cimbri and the folk along the amber road are much deeper than that of merely trade partners. The “Cimbri” are mentioned as being involved in the sack of Delphi by the Greek historian Appian, he states,
“The Autarienses were overtaken with destruction by the vengeance of Apollo, Having joined Molostimus and the Celtic people called Cimbri in an expedition against the temple of Delphi”
This makes what is said to occur next even more perplexing. According to many ancient historian they did not find allies in the south, but enemies, Strabo states of the historian poseidonius,
“And he (poseidonius) goes off to say that in earlier times the Boii dwelt in the Hercynian Forest, and that the Cimbri made a sally against this place, but on being repulsed by the Boii, went down to the Ister and the country of the Scordiscan Galatae, then to the country of the Teuristae”
Poseidonius states that they first they met the boii, in the Hercynian forest, so is most likely talking about the Pannonian boii. Here we hit our first anomaly. The leader of the Cimbri migration is called Boirix, simply translated his name means “king of the boii”. This fact has lead many to believe that there is at least some tribal affiliation between the Boii and the Cimbri. The second possibility is that his name just derives from an earlier root of the word meaning “cattle”, thus becoming “King of cattle”. Given the importance of cattle to our forebears, this is a possibility, but the fact that tribal names were often used as a prefix for personal titles, makes it much more likely his name did indeed mean “king of the boii”.
Now it is not unheard of for tribal cousins to go to war, but are we to believe that the mighty Cimbri horde, who as we will see cause Rome so many problems, were simply brushed aside by the Pannonian boii, while at full force? For me it is much more likely that if any trouble did occur, it was more symbolic than some great battle, that was forgotten by history.
Whatever the truth they next come into contact with the Scordisci. The Scordisci whos territory was vast and centred around Serbia. are thought by many to of merged with the afore mentioned Illyrian tribe the Autarienses who were said by Appian to of been allies with the Cimbri in the siege of Delphi. Appian also mentions that when the Cimbri ventured back there under Boirix, they to encountered hostility.
The god visited the Celts (Cimbri) with an earthquake and overthrew their cities, and did not abate the calamity until these also fled from their abodes and made an incursion into Illyria among their fellow culprits (Autarienses), who had been weakened by the plague. While robbing the Illyrians they caught the plague and again took to flight
So again we have conflict with possible allies, again we are faced with the question how could they so easily be brushed aside? We will probably never know what exactly occurred on this part of the Cimbri migrations, but given that the Numbers reported by Rome were so vast, it is possible that after finding no good place to settle in these provinces, they relieved population burdens of their allies, by recruiting them to their party.
There is one last anomaly though, that of the town called Teutoburgium in Roman times. This town is now the modern Croatian town of Dalj, an area well within Scordisci control. The name seems to hint that it was a settled by Tuetons, given a direct translation it comes to mean “Town of the Tuetons.” So here the physical evidence appears to contradict the ancient historians, and that rather than meeting the Scordisci in battle, the Cimbri horde came to some arrangement and let at least some settle their territory.
We may never know the full story of the early movements of the Cimbri, but when they meet the Tauristae the picture begins to get a little clearer. Having already covered over a thousand miles, travelling down to the Danube river, the Cimbri turn around and head back North. This time they go west of the Pannonian Boii into Tauristae territory, a Celtic tribe allied with mighty Rome. Here the Northmen get their first taste of Roman treachery and the Romans experience first hand “Furor Teutonicus”