Thursday, 14 April 2011

Thing Sites and World Heritage

Thingvellir Iceland IN?

A recent application for Serial Nomination of Viking Sites by Icelands Thingvellir to the World Heritage Convention has included the following comments:

Although a number of medieval assembly sites are known in other European countries, particularly in Norway, Þingvellir is historically, archaeologically and symbolically the most significant. In other countries, the assembly sites are those of local or regional assemblies that performed a different role. The Althing as a general assembly represented the whole country and was in effect the capital of Iceland for two weeks each year where key legal and administrative decisions were made.
Þingvellir has more visible remains than any other thing site, and there are indications of very rich archaeological layers yet to be explored. No other sites show visible ruins, although mounds are extant at the Tynwald in the Isle of Man, Gulating and Frostating in Norway, and at the Thingmount in UK. In addition to physical remains and national status, the Althing site at Þingvellir in Iceland has extra values connected with its long history of continued use, documentation and knowledge of its governance role, transmitted down the centuries in the Icelandic sagas, and through its dramatic natural setting which has changed little since the 9th century. It has thus acquired symbolic associations with Icelandic identity and with Norse culture and is perceived as a place of outstanding aesthetic value.

 Tynwald Isle of Man OUT?

The Tynwald on the other hand, although arguably older than the Icelandic Althing is heavily restored and landscaped, and sits in an urban setting. It has not come to be associated with feelings of identity, nor is it perceived as capturing the essence of Germanic law in such a way as the Althing. The Thingmount is largely unknown and, although in a beautiful setting, not associated with any communal memory of its function or significance. Further, most of the five Norwegian tings are marked with later 19th and 20th century monuments. 

 Dingwall?? It is asserted that the Thing site in Dingwall was located where the Cromartie Memorial Car Park is now.

The Althing is thus unique through its extensive built remains, its unspoilt setting and for its strong and well known associations with Germanic Law and Norse culture.
The Full Unesco Document can be read here

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