Viking parliament site in Caithness may have been found

The Thing Va' broch site near Thurso. PIC: Barry Scollay.
The Thing Va' broch site near Thurso. PIC: Barry Scollay.
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A site where Norse leaders gathered for parliamentary meetings may have been discovered in Caithness.

Archeological work is to get underway at Thing’s Va Broch near Thurso after “faint features” of such an assembly point were discovered.

While parliament sites - known as a Thing - have been located in Shetland and Orkney, this is the first time evidence of such places has emerged in Caithness where Norse settlers arrived around the 10th Century and stayed for more than 300 years.

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A spokesman for the Caithness Broch Project said archaeologists were faced with a “mystery” when geophysics data from Thing’s Va Broch was finalised.

He said: “There are hints of features to the northeast of the broch that may represent structures that could be a Late Iron Age ‘wag’, but there is little of the magnetic enhancement that is usually associated with a broch.

“It is possible that these faint features relate to activity associated with the later role of the site referred to in its place name...which indicates that it was used in the Norse period as a meeting place.”

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A team form Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, Caithness Broch Project and local community volunteers will return to the site later this month.

Further work at Bruan Broch near Wick has also indicated a possible Iron Age settlement was built to the south west of the structure.