An exploration of thing sites in the Islands on the Scottish West Coast

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Viking and Norse things (ON þing), which functioned as both parliaments and courts, were held at outdoor assembly sites. Thing sites were widely distributed across Scandinavia as well as the Norse settlements in the west, showing the significance of the assembly institution and the practice of law to society at this time. If this institution had not served its purpose the Norse settlers could have left it behind. Instead, both in Scandinavia and their new homes, the people of the Viking Age created an ever-shifting pattern of elaborate thing sites.
This aspect of the Norse settlement in western Scotland has remained virtually unexplored, apart from brief discussions in overarching volumes, such as Barbara Crawford’s Scandinavian Scotland. Since 2012, however, a number of new potential thing place-names have been identified, all suggested to contain ON þing. It is important to point out that þing is not the only element indicative of Norse assembly sites, and in this article two further suggested thing sites, identified on the basis of other types of place-names, are also discussed. In this way, a total of ten potential thing sites are found in the islands on the western seaboard of Scotland
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTraversing the Inner Seas
EditorsChristian Cooijmans
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Viking Age, Scotland, Hebrides, assembly


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