The Varni (Procopius), Varini (Tacitus), Varinnae (Pliny the Elder), Wærne/Werne (Widsith) and Warnii (the Thuringish Law) are most likely names of a little known Theedish folk. The name would have meant the "warders", and they may have stemmed in the south Northish (Scandinavian) landship by their name, Värend, and settled in northern Theedland.
The earliest talk of this folk kythes in Tacitus' Germania, where he wrote:
- After the Langobardi come the Reudigni, Auiones, Angli, Varini, Eudoses, Suarines and Nuithones all well warded by eas and wolds. There is nothing standing-out about any of these folks unless it be the shared worship of Nerthus, that is Earth Mother. They believe she is asksome in men's doings and drives among them.
Pliny the Elder wrote Germanorvm genera qvinqve: Vandili, qvorvm pars Bvrgodiones, Varinnae, Charini, Gvtones meaning that there were five Theedish folks: the Vandals of whom the Burgundes were a share, the Varinnae, the Charini and the Gutones (Goths).
It is likewise spoken of in a bit by Procopius who wrote that when the Heruls (Eruli) had been beaten by the Lombards, they went back to Northland (Thule). They went over the Danube (Ister), overtook the Slavs (Sclaveni) and after a dry landship, they came to the Varni. After the Varni they overtook the Dani, and went over the sea. In Northland, they settled beside the Geats (Gautoi). Procopius: Book VI, xv.
They also kythe in the Anglo-Saxon scopwork Widsith as the Werne.
|þeodric weold Froncum, þyle Rondingum,||Theodric wealed the Franks, Thyle the Rondings,|
|Breoca Brondingum, Billing Wernum.||Breoca the Brondings, Billing the Werns.|
|Oswine weold Eowum ond Ytum Gefwulf,||Oswine wealed the Eow and the Jutes by Getwulf,|
|Fin Folcwalding Fresna cynne.||Finn Folcwalding the Frish-kin.|
On Ptolemy's map, they are put in the grounds of Mecklenburgh, where one of the head eas is Warnow and a town is called Warnemünde. They were crushed by the Franks in 595. When the Slavs came, they called themselves the Varnes, maybe having inwrought lingering Werns.