Rare Viking 'Thing' Found Under Parking Lot

Just the 2nd such site in the UK, dated to 11th century

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 25, 2013 7:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists have uncovered another parking lot find, only this time it's in Scotland, and what they discovered is best described as a "Thing." Yep, that's the technical term for a Viking parliamentary gathering site, one of which has been unearthed in the town of Dingwall. That name had long clued archaeologists into the potential for such a find: Dingwall is likely derived from the word thingvellir, or "the field of the assembly," LiveScience reports. But finding a "Thing" site is no small task, in part because the gatherings usually occurred in open fields, and the temporary nature of them meant only modest traces of human life were left behind.

Indeed, this is only the second "Thing" found in the UK, the Scotsman reports. It was uncovered after the team used historical records to identify a mound that had once been called the "assembly mound"; a parking lot now covers it. Excavations "indicated that the mound was man-made," likely in the 11th century, says site director Oliver JT O'Grady, and "radio-carbon datings provide strong scientific evidence to support the interpretation that the mound was created during the period of late Norwegian political influence in Ross-shire and wider." He and his team aren't exactly sure who built the site, but based on its size, that creator would have needed both "political power and resources," explains LiveScience. One guess: Thorfinn the Mighty, who fought a battle in the area around that time. (In less positive Viking news, ancient jewels were stolen this week.)

Dr.Oliver O'Grady describes his archaeological dig at Dingwall.
Dr.Oliver O'Grady describes his archaeological dig at Dingwall.   (THINGSITESTV)
Short introduction to the historic assembly site at Dingwall.
Short introduction to the historic assembly site at Dingwall.   (THINGSITESTV)
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Short introduction to the historic assembly site at Dingwall.   (THINGSITESTV)

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