"Novgorod" means "New city". Given such name, what were the old cities in the region at the time of its foundation?

  • 2
    Perhaps the old cities were all back in Scandinavia (eg: Upsalla) from whence its Varangian founders had emigrated.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 14 '17 at 15:07
  • @T.E.D. The Varangians were invited by the Slavs to Novgorod which was already a big city at the time.
    – Anixx
    Apr 14 '17 at 16:05
  • New might also refer to a section of the city outside some ancient wall or even, going out on a limb, a rebuilding after a fire or a razing. Apr 14 '17 at 16:18
  • @Felix Goldberg indeed, this is the case (the first).
    – Anixx
    Apr 14 '17 at 16:23
  • 2
    There's a famous example of a "New City" that's nowhere near the original city -- New Rome was hundreds of miles away from Rome.
    – Gaurav
    Apr 15 '17 at 4:51

Well, it seems before IXth century there was a city Gorodishche (literally: eclosure). In IXth century a new fort "Novgorod" was founded nearby the old fort. It seems the name is meant to contrast the new fort Novgorod to the old fort Gorodishche.

The city initially was subjected to Ladoga (Aldeigja, Aldeigborg). Ladoga was the ancient capital city of the area, established in VIII century by the Norse, then conquered by the Slavs, then again became subject of the Norse, the domain of Eiríkr Hákonarson (the conqueror of England, by the way).

It is conjectured that initially Rurik ruled from Ladoga rather than Novgorod (earliest versions of Primary Chronicle say so).

  • Wasn't Holmgard Rurik's initial fort/settlement?
    – SPavel
    Apr 15 '17 at 1:30

The Primary Chronicle of Kievan Rus' lists some of the early cities, fortresses or trading posts, including

  • Beloozero (Belozersk)
  • Murom
  • Novgorod
  • Polotsk
  • Rostov
  • Izborsk (though it is unclear whether this was a city)

See for example pages 59 and 60 of http://www.mgh-bibliothek.de/dokumente/a/a011458.pdf

It is common for "New-" named places and things now to be seen as old. Examples include Newcastle and Newport, or New College Oxford, or the Pont Neuf in Paris. If this happens before written history starts, it may be difficult now to identify what came before without archaeology

  • Unlikely that faraway cities like Rostov and Murom could have been considered in this matter. Polotsk is possible... however the likeliest are indeed (as Anixx answered above) Gorodische and Ladoga. There also seems to have pre-existed a town called Ostrogard (Ostrogorod) meaning "Island Town" - and Novgorod could not have been named that... so perhaps this was the older town, which was then followed by Novgorod ("new town") built close to the previous location. Source: Chronica Slavorum, by Helmold von Bosau (XII c.) and Arnold of Lübeck (XIII c.)
    – JimT
    Jul 27 '17 at 22:18

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