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Viking Law and OrderPlaces and Rituals of Assembly in the Medieval North$
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Alexandra Sanmark

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402293

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402293.001.0001

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Introducing the Assembly Sites of Scandinavia

Introducing the Assembly Sites of Scandinavia

Chapter:
(p.56) 3 Introducing the Assembly Sites of Scandinavia
Source:
Viking Law and Order
Author(s):

Alexandra Sanmark

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402293.003.0003

Chapter 3 represents the starting point for the assembly site investigations by examining the layout and design of some of the most important thing sites across Scandinavia. It is demonstrated that these major assembly sites had many features and traits in common, albeit in ever-shifting patterns. When a thing site was first created, the location was carefully selected, as it needed to have the right topography, and often pre-existing anthropogenic features, such as burials. For the continued creation, or redesign of an existing assembly, a pool of features was available, from which a selection were added and presented in varying combinations. By bringing together archaeology, written sources and place-names, it is possible to characterise a range of features associated with assembly sites. This clearly demonstrates the most important result of this study: that a shared idea of what constituted an assembly site existed in the minds of the Norse. The detailed site investigations also show that the assemblies that were designated as top-level sites have the most striking monuments and design. The archaeology of these sites therefore reflects the hierarchy spelt out in the written sources.

Keywords:   Scandinavia, Hierarchy, Assembly, Burials, Thing site, Monuments

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