Vikings and other things

Dingwall, Easter Ross

A view of Dingwall by I. Clark (1824).


Interesting news from Dingwall in Easter Ross which is soon to get a new visitor centre celebrating its rich Viking heritage. The town is located at the mouth of the River Peffery, hence its Gaelic name Inbhir Pheofaran, and was once a thriving port giving access to the Cromarty Firth. Dingwall is a name of Norse origin meaning ‘field of the thing’ (thing = ‘assembly’) and indicates a public meeting-place where disputes were settled and judgments pronounced. The venue was most likely a substantial artificial mound in the vicinity of the old parish church of St Clement’s. No trace of the mound survives today but archaeologists believe that the site is now occupied by the Cromartie Memorial Car Park.

The recent archaeological survey and the new heritage centre are linked to a wider initiative called the THING Project (the acronym means ‘Thing Sites International Networking Group’). This involves agencies and experts from Scottish regions such as Orkney and Shetland which were intensively settled by Vikings, together with partners from Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Isle of Man and Norway itself. Among the project’s long-term aims is a nomination for the thing sites as a group entry on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.

More information on these interesting developments can be found via these links:

Heritage hub for Dingwall (Highland Council/Dingwall History Society)

Norse heritage and thing site (Dingwall Business Association)

THING Project

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5 comments on “Vikings and other things

  1. esmeraldamac says:

    Funnily enough, I was just reading about a traditional jape, now died out, of a mock court at Outgate near Hawkshead. Theory being posited that this was the last remnant of a thing.

    • Tim says:

      This is intriguing, Diane. Did the mock court take place at an ancient site, like an old mound or hillock?

      • esmeraldamac says:

        Unfortunately, the account doesn’t say. Curiously, it does specify that the ‘courts’ weren’t held on any particular day – just as and when they had something to say. Source is Henry Swainson Cooper (1899).

        • Tim says:

          Thanks for the ref. I’ll add it to my ever-growing reading list of old Cumbrian histories, which is currently headed by ‘Ewanian’ on the history of Penrith.

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