Archaeologists in Scotland have uncovered what looks to be an ancient Viking parliament underneath a parking lot, of all places.
Excavations in the town of Dingwall unearthed what’s known as a “Thing” site. The term comes from the Old Norse word ping, meaning assembly. (Via The Scotsman)
These “Thing” sites acted as meeting places for ancient Norsemen to settle disputes and make laws. This one in particular, historians believe, was built at the instruction of the powerful Viking chief known as Thorfinn the Mighty. (Via History Channel)
The team was originally tipped off to the site because the name of the town, Dingwall, probably came from the Viking word thingvellir — meaning “the field of the assembly.” (Via YouTube / Nigel Cole)
Using radioactive carbon isotopes, the team was able to date the charcoal found in the soil, which they discovered dated back to the medieval period. (Via BBC)
The site’s director told LiveScience “It’s a fantastic find, really. No one's had dating [information] from a Thing site in Scotland.”
Gizmodo points out there have been other ancient discoveries paved over in the U.K.
Just last February, researchers identified the skull of King Richard III under a parking lot in Leicester, England. (Via National Geographic)
And in April, archaeologists uncovered the skeletal remains of eight people believed to be the relatives of a medieval knight — also under a parking lot. (Via Daily Mail)
The archaeologists behind this latest find say they hope their discovery can help them learn more about the Norse Vikings and their raids across Europe.