Thorfinn the Mighty's Thing

Digs & Discoveries January/February 2014

(Courtesy Oliver O'Grady)

Archaeologists digging beneath a parking lot in the Scottish town of Dingwall have uncovered the remains of a massive mound where the Viking earl Thorfinn the Mighty once convened his parliament, known then as a thing, from the Old Norse word for “assembly.” Built on Thorfinn’s orders in the eleventh century, the thing mound became the site of Dingwall’s “moot hill,” or medieval assembly ground, after Norse control of Scotland waned. The modern parking lot was first identified as the possible site of the thing mound and later moot hill by archaeologist Oliver O’Grady, of OJT Heritage. After a ground-penetrating radar survey backed up his hunch, this year’s excavations confirmed the existence of the mound. The only other mound in the United Kingdom excavated and shown to have been built as a legal assembly site is in southern England.

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