Round about A.D. 1200, the Swede Frederik Ugarph found a well-preserved wooden statue in a fisherman's house in Nidaros (now Trondheim) in Norway. The statue was 15 cm. (just under 6 in.) high, not including the pedestal. engraved on the pedestal were the words:
which means "Gnome, actual height."
The statue had been in the fisherman's family as long as anyone could remember, and Ugarph succeeded in buying it only after days of negotiation. It is now part of the Oliv family collection in Uppsala. S-ray tests have proved the statue to be more than 2,000 years old. It must have been carved from the roots of a tree that is no longer known; the wood is incredibly hard. The letters were carved many centuries later. The statue's discovery and dating illustrate what gnomes themselves have always said - that their origins are early Scandinavian.
It was only after the Great People's Migration beginning A.D. 395 that gnomes appear in the Low Lands - probably in 449, when the Roman outpost of Britannia fell to the Anglo-Saxons and Jutes. Some evidence of this comes from the statement of a pensioned Roman sergeant, Publius Octavus, who owned a villa and farm in the woods outside Lugdunum (now Leiden, in Holland). He had married a local woman and so did not return to Rome. It was pure luck that his property was spared destruction at the hands of the barbarians.
Publius Octavus wrote the following description in A.D. 470:
"Today I saw a miniature person with my own eyes. He wore a red cap and blue shirt. He had a white beard and green pants. He said that he had live in this land for twenty years. He spoke our language, mixed with strangewords. Since then I have spoken with the little man many times. He said he was a descendant of a race called Kuwalden, a word unknown to us, and that there were only a few of them in the world. He liked to drink milk. Time and again I saw him cure sick animals in the meadows."
In the chaotic time up until 500, after Odoacer, king of the Germans, had disposed of the last ruler of the Western Roman Empire, the gnomes must have established themselves in Europe, Russia, and Siberia, although exact information is lacking. Actually, gnomes find writing history uninteresting, or at lest pretend to, but it is rumored that they have certain secret records.
In his book of 1580, Wunderlich mentions that in his time gnomes had maintained a classless society for more than 1,000 years. Except for their own chosen king, there were no rich, poor, inferior, or superior gnomes. This is perhaps why they made use of the Great People's Migration to begin afresh. It all sounds plausible until he tells of a map (now lost) of a gnome king's palace and adjacent gold mines; apparently slave labor was used in the mines, and sometimes there were slave revolts.
Using our scant information as a guide, we must conclude that gnomes gradually sought more contact with the people they lived among, and that they were completely integrated into our sociey 50 to 100 years before the reign of Charlemagne (768-814).
Geographical Range - Dispersion in North America
The map above shows a number of sites in North America where gnomes are reported to exist. The dificulty with establishing to a certainty that gnomes do indeed live on the continent has been that no sighting or encounter can be confirmed unless witnessed by two observers - the same criteria are used by bird watchers. Thus, though considerable evidence has accumulated, none of it is reported in this book. It can be surmised, however, that American gnomes (whose geographical range corresponds to their fellows' climate and life zones in Europe) do adopt the same dress, life styles, and behavior patterns as their cousins across the sea.
--- Gnomes --- text by Wil Huygen illustrated by Rien Povrtvliet: published in 1977 by Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, New York
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