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'Viking Law and Order' - Alex's new book is published


Viking Law and Order: Places and Rituals of Assembly in the Medieval North

 Alex Sanmark’s new book has just been published. This book explores Viking Age law and assembly sites in the Viking homelands of Scandinavia and in the settlements in west.

Until very recently Viking and Norse assembly sites were essentially unknown, apart from a few select sites, such as Thingvellir in Iceland. The Vikings are well-known for their violence and pillage, but they also had a well-organised system for political decision-making, legal cases and conflict resolution. Using archaeological evidence, written sources and place-names, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of their legal system and assembly sites, showing that this formed an integral part of Norse culture and identity, to the extent that the assembly institution was brought to all Norse settlements.

Sites are analysed through surveys and case studies across Scandinavia, Scotland and the North Atlantic region. The author moves the view of assembly sites away from a functional one to an understanding of the symbolic meaning of these highly ritualised sites, and shows how they were constructed to signify power through monuments and natural features. This original and stimulating study is set not only in the context of the Viking and Norse periods, but also in the wider continental histories of place, assembly and the rhetoric of power.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Researching assembly sites

Chapter 2: Norse assembly organisation within its European context

Chapter 3: Assembly sites in Scandinavia: overview of sites, traits and features

Chapter 4: Assembly sites in Scandinavia: Activities and Rituals of the Elite

Chapter 5: Assembly sites in Scandinavia: Activities and Rituals of the Community

Chapter 6: The constantly evolving assembly site: the effects of Christianity and Urbanisation

Chapter 7. The Norse westward expansion: Thing sites in Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland

Chapter 8: Thing sites in Scotland

Chapter 9: Thing sites in Scotland II: Local assembly sites

Chapter 10: Assemblies in the longue durée


Hardback / July 2017 / 320 pages / ISBN 9781474402293 / £75.00 / $110

Published by Edinburgh University Press                                                                                                                                                                               


Find out more about Viking Law and Order on the Edinburgh University Press website

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