Results from Mercian Archaeological Services CIC’s recent Geophysical Magnetometer Survey of the site of Thynghowe suggests that the site could be extremely significant. We already know it is an important site for local heritage and the history of Sherwood Forest but it is now believed it may be of international significance.
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, and was the location of a meeting site used by Vikings in the heart of Sherwood Forest.
The name Thynghowe means ‘hill of assembly’ and the site is the location of a Vikings 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.
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 measuring 75.0m to 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 there are 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.
Despite being told (by archaeologists) in 2004 that there was nothing at the site, Stuart Reddish and Lynda Mallett stuck to the task of exploration, 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.
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.
It simply cannot be stressed enough that without the dedication, knowledge, inspiration and continuous hard work of the Friends of Thynghowe 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 and Mercian Archaeological Services CIC; 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. Everyone involved remains extremely proud of the work they have done at the site over the years, and are very passionate and dedicated to this site and many others across Sherwood Forest.
The geophysical survey was sponsored by The Forestry Commission, The Friends of Thynghowe, and Mercian Archaeological Services CIC through the Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project. See www.mercian-as.co.uk/sherwoodforest.html for more details.
The results from Mercian’s excavations at the site, sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund; will also soon be available once all the scientific analysis results are back from various universities. Keep watching… archaeologists expect it to be very interesting!