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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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Assembly Sites in Scandinavia: Activities and Rituals of the Community

Assembly Sites in Scandinavia: Activities and Rituals of the Community

(p.117) 5 Assembly Sites in Scandinavia: Activities and Rituals of the Community
Viking Law and Order

Alexandra Sanmark

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 5 shifts the focus to the rituals and activities of the wider community in Scandinavia. At thing sites a wide range of community activities and rituals, which most likely and created collective memories and strengthened social cohesion, were enacted. Many of these activities may have been designed by the elite, but equally the idea of assemblies as communal spaces may have been collectively driven. The archaeological signature of meeting-places and assembly-sites suggests associations with feasting and eating on a large-scale, and architectural layouts that emphasised the collective over the individual and facilitated group interaction and cohesion. The construction, enlargement and maintenance of monuments and other features required the participation of large numbers of people. By joining in this work the population gained shared ownership of the sites. This was further enhanced by communal activities during the meetings, which also involved games and sports, as well as trade. Assemblies therefore formed arenas of interplay between the top-elite and the wider population; kings were elected and ruled through the assembly, while at the same time continuously dependent on the endorsement of the people.

Keywords:   Ritual, Scandinavia, Elite, Communal memory, Assembly, Trade

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