The Goths were a group of tribes that over many generations descended from Northen Europe, namely the Island of Gotland (which became too small for its growing population) to today's Ukraine and Belorussia. Generally these ethnic groups were distinguished between Visigoths (West Goten) and Ostrogoths (Ost Goten) which were the tribes that had settled Eastwards in today's Crimea. Such tribes had in common similar cultural traditions and a language with Germanic roots, an Indoeuropean language. Their presence on the shores of the Baltic Sea and in today's Poland was first recorded in the 1st and 2nd century AD by historians of the first Roman imperial period.
Only in very recent years have Gothic settlements been unearthed in Piedmont, Lombardy, the Tentino and the Veneto Regions. The first settlement to have been excavated in the Friuli Region is in Attimis by the Church of San Giorgio which overlooks the village from a hill. That settlement was a strongly fortified and is similar to another one to be found in Tonovcov grad near Kobarid in today's Slovenija. Numerous Gothic words in the Friulian Idiom may indicate a long and intense period of exchange: grampe from krampa (fistful); sbregÃ from brikan (to tear); uagnÃ from wainjan (to even out) and others.
Following the death of the last sole Emperor, Theodosius I, in 395, the empire once again fell under divided rule. Soon, great tribal migrations put unrelenting pressure on the Northen borders of the Empire. In 401 the Visisgoths entered Northen Italy. The Western emperor, Honorius, fled the capital of Milan for Ravenna in 410, the same year Rome itself was invaded. After the forced abdication of the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, in 476, Italy eventually became an Ostrogth kingdom until 553 AD.
As the orderly Roman countryside succumbed to abandoment and the woodland reconquered the once ploughed fields, the Visigoths introduced what were their customary rights over the common meadows and the township waste. The latter was usually extensive, a township being often no more than a clearing in the middle of a large tract of woodland. It was valued chiefly for its timber and the beechmast and acorns on which the pigs fed. It is estimated that each pig needed 0,57 hectares of woodland. The pigs were small because they grazed all day, reaching a maximum of 80 kg of weight and a yield of 50 kg of meat.