Archaeologists are researching a “thing” in Sherwood Forest as part of a research grant of £50,000 donated by the National Lottery.
Thynghowe or Thing was an important Danelaw open air meeting place where Vikings would gather to discuss law, politics or to resolve disputes and settle issues. It was lost to history until its rediscovery in 2005-6 by local history enthusiasts Lynda Mallett, Stuart Reddish and John Wood by references relating to the Birklands Forest Stone. (Thynghowe)
The site lies amidst the old oaks of an area known as the Birklands in Sherwood Forest near Nottingham, famous for the fabled association to Robin Hood, a heroic outlaw in English folklore. Experts believe that the Danelaw site may also yield clues as to the boundary of the ancient Anglo Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.
English Heritage describes the site, also called Hanger Hill as : Possible Norse ‘thing’, or moot mound, represented by a mutilated mound, approximately 0.7m high and 8m in diameter, on locally high ground at the intersection of three parish boundaries. Three parish boundary stones are still present on the mound, of which two are marked but now recumbent; historic Ordnance Survey map editions also show a triangulation pillar, presumably on the summit.
The place was known in 1334 and 1609 as Thynghowe, suggesting a mid-10th century origin under the Danelaw, although the ‘howe’ element could refer to a prehistoric burial mound. The locality may also have the site of a Saxon Hundred meeting place. The mound is not in itself diagnostic. In 1615, it was called Thinghough and in 1629 Finger Stand, this eventually corrupting, apparently, to the present name of Hanger Hill.
Major archaeological sites that bear testimony to the Danelaw are few. The most famous is the site at York, which is often said to derive its name from the Old Norse Jórvík. (That name is itself a borrowing of the Old English Eoforwic; the Old English diphthong eo being cognate with the Norse diphthong jo, the Old English intervocalic f typically being pronounced softly as a modern v, and wic being the Old English version of the Norse vik.)
Eoforwic in turn was derived from an earlier name for the town, spelled Eboracum in Latin sources. Another Danelaw site is the cremation site at Heath Wood, Ingleby, Derbyshire. The word “howe” often indicates a prehistoric burial mound. Howe is derived from the Old Norse work Haugr meaning mound.
Ms Mallett said: “Workshops and training are planned for both archive research and surveying techniques used in the forest. We will be looking for the ‘forgotten heritage of Birklands’.”
After the initial discovery, Experts carried out a planned survey in January 2011 of the area after receiving funding from Nottinghamshire County Council.The recent lottery grant now means that the Friends of Thynghowe will be able to continue with on-going studies and search for further evidence of the Vikings including a “court circle”.
For further information about the site,, please read Guant, Andy (Jun. 30, 2011). A Topographic Earthwork Survey of Thynghowe, Hanger Hill, Nottinghamshire. NCA-016.
Contributing Sources :
WikiPedia | English Heritage
Local people from the three Nottinghamshire village history societies in Clipstone, Edwinstowe and Warsop were introduced to discoveries made along the route of the 1816 Perambulation of the Lordship of Warsop. As a result they formed the Friends of Thynghowe group, to further investigate the Birklands area and the site of Thynghowe. The aim of the group is to protect, conserve and enhance the heritage of the area. Find out more : http://www.thynghowe.org.uk
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