What has been found now under a car park? A Viking Þing

Archaeological research has backed up findings that a Viking assembly ground, known as a Þing, is located under a car park in northern Scotland.

romartie Memorial Car Park – Dingwall Thing Project, Highland (Dingwall parish), geophysical survey - photo courtesy Royal Commission for Historic Monuments in Scotland

The remains of a large mound that was built in the 11th century have been uncovered by the archaeologists at at Cromartie Memorial car park in ­Dingwall, which is located in the Scottish Highlands. The Norse earl Thorfinn the Mighty,  who died in 1065, most likely had the mound built on a man-made island on the river Peffery.

The Þing are Norse gatherings or parliaments, where the local community would deal with issues and judge various criminal and civil matters.

Oliver O’Grady, one of the archaeologists on the dig, explained to The Scotsman: “The excavations have confirmed the presence of important archaeological remains and indicated that the mound was man-made and probably created during the 11th century. The 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 North-east Scotland.

“The lack of substantial occupation remains or burial activity is also further circumstantial evidence that the mound was created for an assembly site or Þing. The substantial manpower and effort required to create a monument on the scale of the Dingwall mound would also seem in keeping with the establishment of a major regional judicial and administrative centre.”

Image of the mound from the early 20th century
Image of the mound from the early 20th century

When the archaeological dig was carried out last year, local residents were excited about the possibility that an important Viking historic site was in their midst. Local Councillor Maragaret Paterson said at the time that the site may be turned into a heritage attraction, adding “We may have a national treasure here and that would be tremendous for the town but we would need to have a long consultation.”

Prior to 1947 the site was the location of a large earth mound, known from at least the 16th century as the Moothill (‘hill of assembly’), and subsequently adapted as a burial memorial for the First Earl of Cromartie in 1714.

To learn more about the project, please visit The THING Project

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