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Thynghowe Viking Assembly Site

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The Viking Assembly Site of Thynghowe in Sherwood Forest

Mercian Archaeological Services CIC are proud to have been involved in investigating the Viking meeting site of Thynghowe in Sherwood Forest as part of the Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project for our partners the Friends of Thynghowe and the Forestry Commission of England.

Use the links below to navigate or scroll down view the page

[Intro] [The Friends of Thynghowe] [the Archaeology of Thynghowe] [Funding] [Archaeology projects] [Academic Output] [Links]



Vikings of Sherwood HLF

The Archaeology of Thynghowe


Recent work at the site has helped to show that the site of Thynghowe consists of a complex of monuments including:

A ‘thing mound’,

A circular enclosure 75.0m -77.5m in diameter which has been shown to be Medieval or Saxon in date- which could represent a possible Viking ‘court circle’,

Holloways including ‘Nether Warsop Gate’

A spread of pot-boiler stones,

Two possible hearths,

Boundary stones for Warsop and Edwinstowe,

The ‘Birklands Forest Stone’,

The ditch and bank of the boundary of Warsop and Edwinstowe Parish,

The possible identification as the village of Budby as meaning the ‘booth farm’ where delegates attending the assembly may have stayed in ‘booths’.

And possibly more features as yet unidentified.

This monument complex of possible ‘assembly features’ could be unique in terms of preservation anywhere in  England, and possibly anywhere in Northern Europe and around the Viking Diaspora!

Thynghowe is certainly an important site for local heritage and the history of Sherwood Forest.

It may well be of international significance!


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The site of Thynghowe is located at the summit of Hanger Hill on the boundary of Budby, Warsop and Edwinstowe parishes, on the edge of Birklands wood, the home of the world famous Major Oak and the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve.

The name Thynghowe means ‘hill of assembly’ and the site is the location of a Viking Assembly site or ‘Thing’.

The site is home to a complex of monuments which has been slowly pieced together over many years through painstaking research by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC and the Friends of Thynghowe group.

This work includes:

Archaeological excavations by Mercian in 2013 (Gaunt & Crossley 2014) and 2016 (Gaunt & Budge 2016 and Gaunt, Crossley and Budge 2017 forthcoming).

Geophysical Magnetometer Survey by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC (Gaunt 2017)

Magnetometer survey of the top of the mound by UCL (Brookes & Baker 2012)

Map regression

Topographic Survey, Landscape analysis and Level- one survey (Gaunt 2011)

LiDAR Survey 2012

Ground-truthing survey by the Friends of Thynghowe (2012-present

The recent archaeological excavations by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC have also used scientific analysis of pollen, soil geomorphology, and thermoluminesence dating to help to answer the questions raised by work at the site.






Monument Complex at Thynghowe Viking Heritage Area Sherwood Forest

Picture from Gaunt 2017: The monument complex at Thynghowe, Sherwood Forest. Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] 2017. Contains Image © Google Earth. Image © 2017 Getmapping plc.

At various times the project work has received funding from the following:

Photograph: The summit of Thynghowe © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC

Photograph: The summit of Thynghowe © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC


Photograph: The summit of Thynghowe © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC

Photograph: The summit of Thynghowe © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC


The Friends of Thynghowe Group

Despite being told (by archaeologists) in 2004 that there was nothing at the site, Stuart Reddish and Lynda Mallett stuck to the task, formed the Friends of Thynghowe Group, and working alongside archaeological and other experts have helped to save, interpret and begin to understand and promote this amazing site at the heart of Sherwood Forest.

Funding at Thynghowe

The group has spent 13 years so far studying, working, clearing, maintaining, promoting, and helping to protect this site.

They are an amazing example of what community action, commitment, and personal drive can achieve.

See the video at the bottom of this page and hear Lynda Mallet talk about the amazing story of how chance, or fate drove  her and husband Stuart Reddish to purchase an historic document in Wales which led to them rediscovering the site and all the work that has happened since…

Archaeological Projects at Thynghowe

It simply cannot be stressed enough that without the dedication, knowledge, inspiration and continuous hard work of the Friends of Thynghowe (in particular Stuart Reddish, Lynda Mallett, Steve Horne, Sue and Bob Longden and all of the other volunteers at the site from the group and general public who have given their time) alongside the incredible efforts of staff in the Forestry Commission, (notably Amy Chandler, Tim Yarnell, and previously Andy Norman) the site of Thynghowe and its hugely important archaeological remains could have been lost forever and have remained unknown and unrecorded.

At the very least the reward for their collective efforts is that the site is beginning to be recorded and understood, and has been saved for future generations.


Visit their website at:
http://www.thynghowe.org.uk/FoT.html to find out more about their work

Thynghowe summit circle and stones

Photograph: The summit of Thynghowe looking south. ©Mercian Archaeological Services CIC


Summit of Thynghowe

Birklands
Forest Stone

Circular enclosure ditch

Circular
enclosure
bank

Monument Complex at Thynghowe Viking Heritage Area Sherwood Forest

Picture from Gaunt 2017: The monument complex at Thynghowe, Sherwood Forest. ©Mercian Archaeological Services CIC .Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] 2017. Contains Image © Google Earth. Image © 2017 Getmapping plc.


The Birklands Forest Stone Thynghowe

Birklands Forest Stone on the summit of Thynghowe
©Lynda Mallett 2016

2016 Excavations of the Viking Assembly Site at Thynghowe

(The Archaeological Excavation 2016 report will be available to download shortly)

Vikings at Thynghowe

Photo: Viking farmers return to Thynghowe in 2016 ©Lynda Mallett 2016

In April 2016 Mercian Archaeological Services CIC undertook a community excavation for the Friends of Thynghowe as part of their Heritage Lottery Funded project: The Vikings of Sherwood: Investigating the Assembly Site of Thynghowe 2015-16.


Three trenches and two 1m x 1m test pits were excavated at positions designed to answer key questions about the site, and the relationships of the features mentioned above. This was done as part of a community excavation undertaken by volunteers under the supervision of Mercian staff. 53 volunteers dug over the course of 6 days of excavation amounting to 115 person days. This formed a part of the wider public engagement that took place throughout the project.




Trench 1 was located on the southern side of the circular enclosure where it coincided with the boundary of Budby and Edwinstowe. The ditch and bank of the enclosure were present in the trench, but there was no evidence of a bank or ditch associated with the parish boundary at this location. The bank and ditch were subject to environmental sampling. This was undertaken by Allen Environmental Archaeology and (for the project as a whole) has included; geoarchaeology and environmental land use analysis, soil micromorphology analysis, soil thin section analysis, and pollen analysis. The environmental sampling has been combined with that taken from the 2013 excavations and the results were imminent at the time of writing.


Finds from Trench 1 included the proximal fragment of a soft hammer struck blade-like flake of Mesolithic (or early Neolithic) date and three other fragments of hard hammer struck flakes of Neolithic or Bronze Age date. The latter came from the lowest levels of the bank, and from the soil layer preserved outside of the enclosure on its southern side. The ditch was seen to cut into this soil. These these finds therefore pre-date the construction of the earthwork. The finds in the lower fill of the bank are presumed to also have come from this soil layer.


Other finds from the trench included an abraded fragment of pottery, being the foot ring from an unglazed wheel thrown vessel likely of Roman date. Later finds from upper layers of the excavation included parts of a late 19th / early 20th century beverage bottle marked "William Hornby" "Mansfield" with the 'Eclipse' trademark and quantities of spent 7.62mm shell casings. These were date stamped from the 1950s to 1961, demonstrating the continued use of Sherwood Forest for live fire exercises by the military even after the end of WWII.


Trench 2 was located at the western side of the circular enclosure where it coincided with the Budby/Warsop boundary. Excavation showed the ditch of the circular enclosure to be cut by the later ditch of the parish boundary.


Trench 3 was located over an area where a large density of pot boiler stones were evident on the surface of the ground. This area coincided with an area high magnetic responses in the geophysical data. A trench was opened at this location to investigate this feature. Trench 3 revealed a layer of pot boiler stones up to c.0.3m thick. They appeared to have been deposited in this location over a(n unknown) period of time; test pits 8m and 10m south (upslope) found no trace of pot boilers and demonstrated that they had not been washed downhill. The only artefacts found in this deposit were a possible quartzite core and two small fragments of gritstone quern, the latter probably originating in the Derbyshire Peak District.


Due to the lack of clear dating evidence from Trench 3, SUERC have been contracted to undertake thermoluminescence dating on a sample of the pot boilers to attempt to date their last heating.


Dig Team 2016 Community Archaeology Thynghowe Sherwood Forest Dig Team 2016 Community Archaeology Thynghowe Sherwood Forest Community Archaeology Thynghowe Sherwood Forest Community Archaeology Thynghowe Sherwood Forest

Magnetometer Survey 2015 & 2016 (report 2017), summary:


A geophysical magnetometer survey of the enclosure and surroundings adjacent to Hanger Hill known historically as Thynghowe was carried out for the Friends of Thynghowe and the Forestry Commission by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC (Mercian), in 2015 and 2016. The project detected anomalies and trends that represent archaeological remains preserved at the site. This geophysical magnetometer survey alongside the results of excavations by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC (Gaunt & Crossley 2014; Gaunt & Budge 2016; Gaunt, Crossley & Budge 2017 forthcoming), topographic survey (Gaunt 2011), LiDAR Survey (2012) and historic mapping has discovered a large number of archaeological features now confirmed at the site. These include: a ‘thing mound’, Warsop and Edwinstowe boundary stones, the ‘birklands forest stone’, the Warsop and Budby parish boundary ditch and bank, a 75.0 metre - 77.5 metre diameter circular bank and ditch enclosure (internal bank and external ditch), a spread or mound of pot-boiler stones, two possible hearths, and a series of holloways identified as part of ‘Nether Warsop Gate’. This geophysical survey detected these holloways, possible hearths, pot-boiler stone spread, the circular enclosure, and part of the Budby/ Warsop parish boundary ditch. With the identification of the site of Thynghowe as a Viking ‘thing’ site, and the existence of a circular enclosure cut into the slope of the ‘thing mound’ on the northeastern side; the lower fills of this circular enclosure are suggested to be possibly Saxon or Medieval, posited here as a possible ‘court circle’, alongside the additional presence of holloways, and preserved archaeological remains make the site of Thynghowe of great importance not only regionally, and nationally, but potentially internationally. It is one of the few locations surviving where a Thing site can be pin-pointed in the landscape. It is also possible with the presence of the circular enclosure and mound that the site has preserved in situ ‘assembly features’ which may be unique in the Viking Diaspora in terms of preservation. The possible place name evidence relating to booths (discussed below) and the obvious placename evidence relating to a Thing site, alongside the clear survival of archaeological remains within a visible monument complex (presented here, expanding on Gaunt 2015) makes this site potentially highly significant.



Thynghowe magnetometer survey results 2017 Archaeological features at Thynghowe Viking Heritage Area. Thynghowe monument complex- Thynghowe Viking Heritage Area.

Picture: From Gaunt 2017: Archaeological features detected in magnetometer survey. © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC. Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] 2017. Contains Image © Google Earth. Image © 2017 Getmapping plc.

Picture: From Gaunt 2017: The Thynghowe monument complex. © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC . Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] 2017. Contains Image © Google Earth. Image © 2017 Getmapping plc.

Picture: From Gaunt 2017: Trends in the geophysical data set. © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC . Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] 2017. Contains Image © Google Earth. Image © 2017 Getmapping plc.


Picture: From Gaunt 2017: Magnetometer survey results +/-1nT. © Mercian Archaeological Services CIC , Contains OS data © Crown copyright [and database right] 2017. Contains Image © Google Earth. Image © 2017 Getmapping plc.


Geophysical Magnetometer Survey at Thynghowe, Hanger Hill, in Sherwood Forest.

Castle Field, Waterfield Farm, Kings Clipstone, Nottinghamshire.


Andy Gaunt


http://www.mercian-as.co.uk/reports/thynghowe_magnetometer_survey_report_2017.pdf

Thynghowe geophysical survey

2013 Excavation by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC, summary.



The excavation took place over 3 days from the 23rd -25th April 2013 alongside volunteers from the Friends of Thynghowe who sieved 100% of the spoil generated. There were a further 3 days of recording by Mercian.


The work involved the hand excavation of one 10m x 1.5m trench at right angles to the central section of a curvilinear earthwork consisting of a bank and ditch and an adjacent trackway.


The excavation was undertaken to investigate the nature of the earthwork; to understand its original shape and dimensions and to determine, if possible, the date of its construction and use. Also to determine, if possible, the age of the adjacent trackway.


The excavations revealed that the bank and ditch were considerably larger than the visible surface remains suggested. Evidence from the excavation and the preceding topographic survey, LiDAR and historic mapping suggests the feature may have originally formed part of a circular enclosure with the bank on the inside of the ditch.


Environmental evidence does not directly suggest the enclosure was formed to enclose and area of woodland (Mike Allen, pers comm.). If the earthwork was originally circular the internal bank suggests the site was designed to limit access to an internal space.


This function, the location of the feature at the extreme periphery of the Parish of Budby where the parish adjoins two others (often ancient meeting sites are at the periphery of landscapes) (Mallett et al 2012), and the spatial proximity to Hangar Hill (a posited Viking assembly site) suggests that it is not impossible that the enclosure may be associated with the possible Viking meeting site of Thynghowe.


The only artefacts recovered from the excavation (except for CBM, iron and pottery all from the adjacent modern trackway) were Heat Shattered Pebbles. These seem to have been deposited after the ditch and bank were constructed.


Their presence, combined with the environmental evidence, indicates that a Bronze Age or Early Medieval construction period for the bank and ditch is not impossible and may even be most likely.


2013 Excavations at Thynghowe Sherwood Forest Volunteers Freinds of Thynghowe excavating at Thynghowe Sherwood Forest excavation 2013 thynghowe sherwood forest

Picture:Volunteers excavating at thynghowe. ©Mercian Archaeological Services CIC 2017

Picture:”Court Circle” excavations 2013. ©Mercian Archaeological Services CIC 2017

The ‘CourtCircle’ Excavation at Thynghowe, Hanger Hill, Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. Archaeological Report. Gaunt and Crossley 2014.


Andy Gaunt and Sean Crossley


http://www.mercian-as.co.uk/reports/The_CourtCircle_Excavation_at_Thynghowe.pdf

Thynghowe archaeological excavation report Sherwood Forest Nottinghamshire

Picture: Gaunt & Crossley 2014: Section drawings of the circular enclosure. ©Mercian Archaeological Services CIC 2017

* Download the Archaeological Report for FREE below*

* Download the Archaeological Report for FREE below*

LiDAR data court circle Viking Assembly site Thynghowe Sherwood Forest

 LiDAR data results 2012, courtesy of Friends of Thynghowe/ Geomatics Group Environment Agency. The shaded relief model show high ground in red and low ground in blue.



LiDAR survey 2010 - Friends of Thynghowe / Geomatics Group - Environment Agency

Stuart Brrokes at Thygnhowe View of Thynghowe excavations Community Archaeology Thynghowe Sherwood Forest

Picture: A view of the 2016 excavation towards the summit of Thynghowe ©Lynda Mallett 2016

Picture:Archaeological volunteers at the 2016 excavation ©Lynda Mallett 2016

Picture:Archaeological volunteers at the 2016 excavation ©Lynda Mallett 2016

Picture:Archaeological volunteers at the 2016 excavation ©Lynda Mallett 2016

Picture:Archaeological volunteers at the 2016 excavation. ©Lynda Mallett 2016

Picture:Archaeological volunteers at the 2016 excavation.
 ©Lynda Mallett 2016

Ground -truthing by The Friends of Thynghowe 2012- ongoing:


Record of Features Investigated by The Friends of Thynghowe:

http://www.thynghowe.org.uk/ResBirk.html


Map of Features Investigated by The Friends of Thynghowe:

http://www.thynghowe.org.uk/ResBirkMap.html#

A topographic earthwork survey of Thynghowe. Hanger Hill, Nottinghamshire. 2011.


Andy Gaunt, Nottinghamshire County Council. (This is an external link to the Nottinghamshire County Council Website):


http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/media/110119/a-topographic-survey-of-thynghowe.pdf

Photograph: Stuart Brookes of University College London on top of Thynghowe with a Magnetometer 2012.
 ©Lynda Mallett 2012

Magnetometer Survey - Stuart Brookes, University College London 2012

Topographic Survey - Andy Gaunt, Nottinghamshire Community Archaeology 2012

Revealing the Landscape: Community archaeology in Viking Sherwood Forest

A public lecture presented by Lynda Mallett & Stuart Reddish
on February 28, 2017 at St Mary's University, Nova Scotia
for the Nova Scotia Archaeological Society

Nova Scotia Archaeological Society St Mary's University Nova Scotia

Academic Output:

Transactions of the Thoroton Society (of Nottinghamshire): Community Archaeology  at Thynghowe, Birklands, Sherwood Forest.
Lynda Mallett, Stuart reddish, John Baker, Stuart Brookes and Andy Gaunt. 2012.

http://www.thorotonsociety.org.uk/publications/tts/trans116.htm

According to Ancient Custom: Research on the possible origins & purpose of Thynghowe

Paper presented at the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik, in collaboration with Thingvellir National Park March 9, 2012

Stuart C. Reddish and Lynda Mallett.

2012

issuu.com/piro.co.uk/docs/according_to_ancient_custom_-_thynghowe


Reddish, S. 2010. Paper presented: Viking Law Thing Discovery in Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest, Thynghowe. Program Partner Meeting. Faeroe Islands 05th- 07th October 2010:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/210215434_Viking_Law_Thing_Discovery_in_Robin_Hood%27s_Sherwood_Forest


Reddish, S. 2010. Paper presented: Thynghowe: A thing site in the Sherwood Forest, The THING Project. THING Sites International Networking Group 2009 – 2012 Shetland/Orkney Partner Meeting 14-18 April 2010:


https://www.researchgate.net/publication/210215413_Viking_Assembly_Site_Discovery_in_Sherwood_Forest_Nottinghamshire



Reddish, S. & Mallett, L. 2016. Canute: The Danelaw and the Vikings of Sherwood. Published by Public Information Research Organisation:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299478639_Canute_Danelaw_and_the_Vikings_of_Sherwood

Friends of Thynghowe Publications about the site - see their website for details:

http://www.thynghowe.org.uk/Publications.html


Thynghowe and Birklands

Stories from the past of Sherwood Forest retold along the route of two perambulations of an ancient boundary

2013


Publications with references to Thynghowe


Things in the Viking World

Olwyn Owen (ed.)

The Thing Project

Shetland Heritage Publications

2012


The Woodland Heritage Manual

Ian D Rotherham, Melvyn Jones, Lindy Smith, Christinr Handley (eds.)

The Woodland Heritage Champions Project

Wildtrack Publishing

2007


Warsop 1816 to 2016

Steve Horne

Warsop Footpaths & Countryside Group

2016

issuu.com/warsop_footpaths/docs/b1816_issuu

Academic Publication:

Vikings at Thynghowe Assembly Site Sherwood Forest

Photograph: Vikings return to the summit of Thynghowe in 2016.  
©Lynda Mallett 2016

Links:


The Friends of Thynghowe:

http://www.thynghowe.org.uk/index.html


The THING Project - Thing Sites and the Viking Cradle of Democracy:

http://thingproject.eu/


Friends of Thynghowe Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Thynghowe



Geophysical survey Thynghowe Sherwood Forest