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Place Names, Landscape, and Assembly Sites in Skåne, Sweden
Ola Svensson

Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 8 (2015): 82–92

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Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 82 Introduction One way to approach the problem of medieval and prehistoric assembly sites is to proceed from places where we know from late medieval written sources, or can assume by interpreting place-names, that justice once was administered (Andersson 1965; Brink 1998; Dahlberg and Kousgård Sørensen 1979; Jørgensen 1980; Svensson 2007, 2012). Activities associated with medieval and prehistoric assembly sites in Scandinavia have not only been focused on justice, but also on cult, market, and chieftainly power concerns, and sometimes there seems to be a spatial connection between several of these activities (Brink 1999, Fabech and Näsman 2012:56, Schledermann 1974:373).1 However, compared to information on cult, market, and chieftainly power activities, the state of our sources is, at least in the case of Skåne, favorable when it comes to the exercise of justice. Cult activity at assembly sites, whether we refer to medieval times or to a prehistoric phase, is, despite of all successful and interesting work that has been done in this field, difficult to grasp in content, scope, and locality.2 The same can be said about markets. Even more difficult to use in this context are the sites where chieftains (magnates, petty kings, etc.) exercised power. Power can be found everywhere, naturally as a part of the performance of cult activities, the administration of justice, and the holding of markets, but also—as regards the locality and manifestation in the landscape— completely independent of these phenomena (Brink 1998:300).3 Justice, by contrast, has left us with a rich textual legacy. Furthermore, one can argue that the process of justice itself favored a kind of conservatism as a necessity to recognize what is justice and what is arbitrary exercise of power. A consequence of this is that the place where justice is performed is an extremely important part of the whole concept of public justice. Place-names, texts, and archaeology provide building blocks that aid our understanding of the emergence of systems of power and administration in Skåne. By drawing on all of these materials, a better understanding of assembly in this region can be achieved. Names and Justice The words in place-names that are linked to the administration of justice may have to do with the site of the court or thing, instruments of punishment, the judicial district or its inhabitants, people associated with the law, or judicial events. More indirectly, place-names may refer to the administration of justice by being identical to or containing parts of hundred-names, names of known court sites, or names of settlements or their inhabitants with which the court can be associated. In bipartite names, it is usually the specific element that has to do with justice, while the generic says something about the nature of the geographical location: Tingshögen (with -hög “mound”), Tingsåkern (with -åker “field”). It is important to remember, however, that a name associated with justice need not necessarily represent the actual court site; names like *Tingbrobäcken (with -bro- “bridge”) or Tingsledet (with -led “gate”) may designate places some distance away from the site of the court (Dalberg and Kousgård Sørensen 1979:74,76). Ting “assembly, court” and galge “gallows” are the most obvious and common of such name elements throughout Scandinavia. Other words included in place-names which may (but need not always) be linked to the administration of justice are avrättning “execution”, dom “judgement”, folk “people”, gast “ghost”, hor “adultery”, hund “hundred”, härad “hundred”, kind “people”, lag “law”, mot “meeting”, mål “case”, nattman “executioner”, Place Names, Landscape, and Assembly Sites in Skåne, Sweden Ola Svensson* Abstract - The paper discusses a particular type of assembly site in medieval and presumably even older times for the exercise of justice in the province of Skåne (Scania) in southern Sweden (Scandinavian medieval: approx. AD 1050–1520). Through a close and detailed consideration of historical and antiquarian research focused around two key landscape case studies—Torna hundred and Vemmenhög hundred—this study challenges long-established models of assembly formation, location, and naming. The paper concludes by providing an entirely new perspective on what place-names associated with legal practice and judicial administration might signal about the genesis and organization of early medieval systems of power and justice. Debating the Thing in the North: The Assembly Project II Journal of the North Atlantic *Doktorand, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden; ola.svensson@Inu.se. 2015 Special Volume 8:82–92 Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 83 rackare “executioner”, stegel “rack”, stämma “assembly'”*thiudh “people”, and tjuv “thief”. Even more words such as these have been mentioned in the literature discussing this topic (See Andersson 1965, 1984:90–100, 2006:64–70; Dalberg and Kousgård Sørensen 1979:71–83; Hald 1969:37–42; Jørgensen 1980:37–41). There are settlements with names associated with the exercise of justice. These can be old court sites where a settlement later grew up: Tingbacken (with -backe “hill”) but also settlements that were identified early on through the geographical proximity to the court (Tings Nöbbelöv). But it is among the field-names that one can find the vast majority of the names associated with judicial history. In most parts of Sweden, it is above all the hundred things and their places of execution, along with the towns’ execution places, that have left the majority of onomastic evidence—names of fields, meadows, hills, roads, and so on—close to old things. The age of these names is difficult to ascertain, but in Skåne they are well attested in large numbers from the Renaissance onwards. Often, however, like other field-names, they are recorded earliest in landsurvey documents compiled in connection with the enclosure reforms in the late 18th century or the 19th century. It seems likely, nevertheless, that the fieldnames indicating the administration of justice are to a large extent medieval and possibly sometimes older, since in many cases they can be associated with historically and (more seldom) archaeologically attested medieval courts and execution places, and/or prehistoric assembly sites of particular importance (Andersson 1965:181–189, Brink 1998:301–322, Svensson 2007:191–219). Justice in Skåne The judicial levels documented in the onomastic material of Skåne are: the provincial thing (in swedish landsting); the hundred things (häradsting—of which there were 22 in the Middle Ages; Fig 1); the town things (stadsrätt), which were independent of the hundreds (having been broken out of them); and the birk things (birketing), which were separate judicial circuits attached to major royal, ecclesiastical, or noble estates (Andersson 2006, Lerdam 2004, Svensson 2012). Parish and village councils are rarely reflected in place-names, and moreover, since they played a very limited role in the official judicial system, they are not included in this study (Dahlerup 1971:373–374, Meyer 1957:443–447). Theoretically, temporary thing meetings dealing with unique cases, royal thing meetings (rättarting), as well as certain jurisdictional privileges of the Danish nobility in early modern times (hals- og håndsret “neck-and-hand rights”), could have left traces in place-names, but no indisputable evidence exists. The large hundreds in northern Skåne (Fig. 1), which were divided for tax purposes (at least in the late Middle Ages) into sixths, eighths, etc., may also have had corresponding judicial sub-levels, but this remains speculative (Dalberg and Kousgård Sørensen 1979:69–70). Lund The beginnings of academic inquiry Founded around 990, Lund can be regarded in many ways as the capital of Denmark in the early and high Middle Ages (Fig. 2). The archbishop of all the Scandinavian countries, and later of Denmark, had his seat here, and the town was the pre-eminent mint in the kingdom. The town and its surroundings were also important for military strategy throughout history because of the significance of Lund in power politics, its location for communication purposes, and not least because the provincial thing of Skåne was situated in Lund. The role of the town as the most prestigious place of spiritual and political power in Skåne may derive from the prehistoric period (Blomqvist 1951, 1978). The reasons for the importance of Lund were discussed as early as in the Renaissance. In 1598, the educationalist and clergyman Herman Chytraeus, who travelled around collecting information about antiquities in Skåne, presented a work about the most important monuments: stating the reasons for the established view of Lund’s high age and great significance lay in pre-Christian times. He began with the name Lund, which he connected to a “delightful grove” with fresh springs that used to exist there (... a luco, qui eodem in loco fuerat am?nissimisus multis fontibus limpidissimis exornatus; Lagerbring 1744: I:287). This claim was a response to assertions by the Danish historian Mogens Madsen that the city was named after London in England (Stjerna 1909:172–173). The dispute has continued into recent times, but has finally been resolved by Bengt Pamp’s refutation of the London theory (Pamp 1990:15–23). Chytraeus’ work was not printed until Sven Lagerbring included it in his Monumenta Scanensia (Lagerbring 1744). Chytraeus goes on to mention that in his time there was still a market, called “The Market of the Three Mounds” (Tre högars marknad), held at three mounds east of the town. In pagan times, he claimed, there had been images of Thor, Odin, and Freyja on these hills (Körner 1962:191–196).4 According to Chytraeus, kings were elected on the slope north of the city near Allhelgonaklostret, the Monastery of All Saints’ (Stjerna 1909:173). Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 84 The various elements in Chytraeus’ narrative have left their mark on the discussion of prehistoric Lund right up to the present day. It may be noted that Chytraeus’ account is suspiciously like Olaus Magnus’ earlier history of Uppsala (Blomqvist 1962:413–415, Körner 1962:191–196, Stjerna 1909:173). The divine grove with the idols depicting Thor, Odin, and Frey, along with the market, can be found in Olaus Magnus’ account, and this in turn is based on Adam of Bremen’s 11th-century de- Figure 1. The hundreds (härader) of Skåne. Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 85 scription of the pagan temple in Uppsala (Blomqvist 1962:413–415, Körner 1962:191–196). Interestingly, the account of Lund later became significant in traditions surrounding Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala). The names of the Uppsala mounds that associated them with pagan gods appears in a late tradition and was probably a motif borrowed from Lund (Blomqvist 1962:414). We do not know very much about Chytraeus, but, as hinted at above, so far as he can be regarded as a typical representative of the academic discourse of his time, it is reasonable to view him as an exponent of the same historical/antiquarian tradition as Olaus Magnus: “remarkable things” are noted and described and fitted into a patriotic discourse. For Chytraeus, this comprised the relationship of Skåne to the kingdom of Denmark and the glorious and ancient history of the Danish people. What is reality and what is merely discourse is difficult to ascertain. We can guess that Chytraeus noted and pondered on existing historical and antiquarian similarities between Lund and Uppsala within a mindset that contained not only fascination but also some rivalry for history and glory between the archbishoprics of Lund and Uppsala, and between the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden. It is interesting that the subject of assembly sites occupies such a central role in this context; Chytraeus can be regarded as a kind of starting point for academic thought about ancient assembly sites in Skåne (Stjerna 1909:172–173). Archaeological and antiquarian exploration The words of Chytraeus have provided a touch stone for subsequent work. Nils-Henric Sjöborg, active at the turn of the 18 th and 19 th centuries, argued that The Market of the Three Mounds was located on a noticeable rise east of the town (present-day Linero)—close to the Arendala farm—on a site where at least the remains of mounds could be seen in his day, and where according to Saxo Grammaticus an assembly was held in the early 12th century (Blomqvist 1951:90–91, Pamp 1998:15).5 In modern times, a different site has been suggested for this market: Uppåkra, south of Lund, where the remains of a huge and rich settlement from the early and late Iron Age, including a cult house that stood on the same spot for 800 years, have been partially excavated (Larsson 2004). Researchers working on the excavations in Uppåkra have even claimed that the name Lund initially referred to Uppåkra but changed its denotation when the present Lund was founded at the end of the 10th century (Andrén 1998:137). The suggested location of a pre-Christian Lund and The Market of the Three Mounds in Uppåkra has been effusively dismissed by the place-name scholar Bengt Pamp, yet it has had considerable impact by being Figure 2. Lund and its surroundings. Places mentioned in the text are marked with arrows and red lettering. On the plateau on the slope of which the city of Lund was located at the end of the Viking Age there are several assembly sites used for the administration of justice. The map is based on Skånska rekognoceringskartan from 1812–1820 (Fältmäteribrigaden 1986). Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 86 repeated in various publications about the Uppåkra excavations (Pamp 1998:9–16, Rosengren 2007:76, Vikstrand 1999:13–24). A complete discussion of the origin of Lund and of the possible locations of a prehistoric market, a central cult site, a place for the acclamation of kings, and the site of a provincial and hundred thing is beyond the scope of this paper. Some main points will nevertheless be made. It can scarcely be doubted that there was a market named after three mounds in or near Lund (Blomqvist 1951:21). The name Tre högar (“Three mounds”) occurs at several places in Skåne, but only one place near Lund has that name, in the Norrevång field of the village of Stora Råby just east of the town, on the spot pointed out by Chytraeus and later identified in detail by Nils-Henric Sjöborg (Ljunggren and Ejder 1950:62, Sjöborg 1824:196–197). The oldest mention of this place predates Chytraeus’ work; it is in a cadastre, a source that Chytraeus is unlikely to have had access to (Ljunggren and Ejder 1950). The place—the heights around Linero and Arendala—offers a unique view of the whole plain of Lund. As mentioned above, a significant medieval assembly appears to have been held here, or very close by. The topography is dramatic, and it is easy to imagine a large crowd of people assembling on the steep slope leading up from Arendala towards Hardeberga and being able to hear what was said by one person at the foot of the slope in the valley at the Arendala farm. The place has the acoustic conditions necessary for a large number of people to assemble. There is also another area to consider as a potential assembly site in Torna hundred. This is found some kilometers away from Arendala and Linero, around the villages of Vallkärra Torn and Östra Torn. Here, too, the topography provides a magnificent setting with a view over much of southwest Skåne, as well as the Sound and the coast of Zealand. The name Torn, which corresponds to the name of the hundred, Torna härad, can hardly be anything but the appellative torn “hawthorn” (Ingers 1971:53–54, Pamp 1990:22). The uncompounded form suggests a very special hawthorn or a very special grove of these trees. The same can be said about the name Lund; the simplex form indicates a special and wellknown grove. That three places located very near each other all bear names relating to a very special tree or a very special formation of trees suggests that they may refer to the same natural site, i.e., a special and well-known grove with hawthorn trees that originally inspired the names (Pamp 1990:22–23, Strid 2005:159–161). At Sankt Hans backar, the hills just north of Lund, there is a spring named after Sankt Hans (Saint John) where Midsummer offerings were documented in the mid-18 th century (Nyman 1801– 1813). For this discussion, what is particularly noteworthy about this spring, between Vallkärra Torn and Östra Torn, is that springs dedicated to Saint John seem to be associated with sacred thorn trees. The best-known example is the well at the chapel of Saint John on the island of Öland, where a thorn tree with the name Rosenkind was documented by 17thcentury antiquarians (Areen 1934:89–96, Sahlgren 1920:56–57). Thus, there is a geographical as well as a mythical association between a holy spring and a special tree or grove of trees that, via the name of the participants of the assembly, gave Torna hundred its name. So given the above, this site seems likely to be an example of an assembly environment including a grove and a spring. Sjöborg noted the name Tingshögarna “The Assembly Mounds” for a location a few kilometers northeast of Sankt Hans backar (André and Högstedt 1990:6). On that site there is today one mound seemingly of Bronze-Age date, but according to Sjöborg there were two mounds, a square stone setting, and the remains of a byre (Sjöborg 1814:note 36). Not far from Sankt Hans backar and Tingshögarna, we find field-names beginning with Galge- “gallows” and Tjuv- “thief”, indicating the locations of the 19th-century town gallows (André and Högstedt 1990:23, 69). Many places, more or less mythical, that could be candidates for the sites of judicial assemblies, cult activities, and royal elections exist in the area north of Lund, which led the 17th-century scholar Kilian Stobaeus to believe that the site of the election of kings had alternated between different mounds in the vicinity. Above all, it is the mounds Kungshögen (“The King’s mound”), Lerbäckshög (“Mud brook’s mound”), and Sliparebacken (“Grinder’s hill”) that have been suggested as sites for royal elections. The latter two have been assumed, probably in error, to be the same mound, and a variety of speculative forms have been suggested to explain the names Lerbäckshög and Sliparebacken: Sankt Liberius hög, Libers hög, Leobards hög, Trelejonborgs hög, etc.; the latter two imply some connection with the three leopards or lions in the Danish national coat of arms (Blomqvist 1951:267, Ingers 1962:74–76, Sjöborg 1815:30). In conclusion, it seems most likely that the thing site of Torna hundred was at Tingshögarna, near Sankt Hans backar in the vicinity of a significant pre-Christian cult site, and that the assembly site at Linero/Arendala was, at least at some stage of time, the site of the provincial thing for Skåne. This seems a likely scenario as it fits the pattern that can be observed in southern and western Skåne. It should also be emphasized that the idea of a site for a thing, a Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 87 doubt to the natural height, which is rather elongated and not particularly steep, on the site. Despite its shape, this elevation can be seen from far away. According to a 17th-century map, a road ran along this height from northwest to southeast (Buhrmann 1684). A couple of examples of place-names indicating thing sites are found elsewhere in the hundred too. In the parish of Östra Klagstorp there is Tingryllen, which according to the topography can be interpreted as “the ridge on which the road to the thing [at Västra Vemmenhög] runs”. Finally, in the parish of Lilla Isie in the southwest corner of the hundred, there is a single, late, oral reference to an old burial mound named Tinghög. With the present state of our sources, this place-name can only be regarded as a piece of local mythology. Vemmenhög’s place of execution is well attested in historical sources. Galgbacken, “The Gallows hill”, is marked on a map of Skåne dating from the 1680s (Buhrmann 1684), and this location was also where the last executions in the hundred took place in 1811 (Asp 1891:2, 35). On this site, which is the highest point in the vicinity, there is a sole burial mound, right on the border between the parishes of Västra Vemmenhög, Östra Vemmenhög, and Tullstorp, from where, in good weather, the view stretches out over the south and middle part of the hundred. market, and perhaps also cult activities on the hills north and east of Lund need not conflict in any way with the view of Uppåkra as a power center in the Iron Age, with the seat of a chieftain, sophisticated craft work, trade, and a magnificent cult building. To illustrate the similarities in the way judicial sites, the landscape, settlement names, hundrednames, and field-names indicating the administration of justice interact, another area in Skåne may be used as an example: Vemmenhög Hundred.6 Vemmenhög hundred In 1682, Vemmenhög hundred was amalgamated with neighboring hundreds (Almquist 1954:401– 402). There is no information about the location of the thing site of the hundred before the time of amalgamation, but local tradition points to the three burial mounds named Vemmenhögarna as the oldest assembly site (Fig. 3; see Almquist 1954:401–402). As we shall see below, however, the place-names in the area instead clearly suggest that the assembly site was located on a ridge on the border between Västra Vemmenhög, Tullstorp, Önnarp, and Källstorp (Fig. 4). The primary name here seems to be Tingbjär “assembly hill”, attested directly—and indirectly via secondary names—from the 16th century. The generic element in bjär “hill” refers without Figure 3. Vemmenhögarna, the burial mounds in Vemmenhög Hundred (Svensson 2007). Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 88 dred boundary is perhaps the most remarkable thing. Names with Ting-, Galge-, and Stegel- on hundred boundaries are found at several places in Skåne (Svensson 2007:214). This situation is difficult to interpret. Does it testify to some form of justice dating back before the hundreds? Or do they reflect traces of some other kind of assembly than the hundred things, for example, special assemblies to discuss matters affecting several neighboring hundreds? The Established Model of the Development of Administrative Division It was noticed long ago by place-name scholars that the hundreds in southern and western Skåne mostly have names corresponding to the names of villages. Jöran Sahlgren (1920) identified different chronological levels, on the one hand old settlement districts like the hundreds of Villand and Alesmark in the northeast, and on the other hand later “artificial” hundreds in the south and west. The hundreds with village names, according to Sahlgren, were named after the villages where the thing sites were located, and the whole area with hundred-names At a further two places in the hundred there are place-names containing the element galge “gallows”, namely Gallebjär (with variants) in Lemmeströ, Börringe Parish, and Gallebjär (also with variants) in Norra Lindholmen in Aggarp, Svedala Parish. These place-names can be linked to the historically attested Lindholmen birk (Lindholms Bierck [unpublished cadastre, 1546/47]) and Börringe birk (Børringe bierck [unpublished cadastre, 1572]), respectively. In the parish of Skivarp on the eastern border of the hundred there is a village named Steglarp with the word for “wheel” (Stælrup 1470; Erslev 1929:191). Approximately 1 km from that village, in the neighboring hundred of Ljunits, there is a Tingaröd (Tingar 1406, Tingære 1472; Hallberg 1975:150). The latter has been interpreted as a compound appellative *tinggärde “enclosed assembly site” (Hallberg 1975:150). The fact that Steglarp and Tingaröd are situated so close to each other could be taken as corroborating the idea that they reflect the administration of justice. Yet they cannot be easily linked to any known hundred thing or birk thing. The fact that they occur on either side of a medieval hun- Figure 4. The Vemmenhögarna area in Vemmenhög Hundred. In Vemmenhög Hundred, as in many other hundreds in Skåne, there are remarkably many names, with a clear tradition since the 16th century, associated with the administration of justice. Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 89 like this was regarded as the area that was originally called Skåne, which had been a unit on a par with Villand especially. An indication that the area had been carved up into hundreds by a central administration was, according to Sahlgren, that the hundred boundaries followed rivers, which more likely reflected a central administrative perspective than natural historical growth. In Sahlgren’s view, water united instead of divided people in older times (Sahlgren 1920:54–62). Sahlgren’s theory has had a considerable impact which can be seen in the work of later historians and archaeologists, who often envisage a chronological development by which southern and western Skåne was involved in the consolidation and expansion of the Danish kingdom earlier than the other parts of the province (Andersson 1947:323, Fabech 1993, Skansjö 1997:36). Thorsten Andersson has built on Sahlgren’s theory, above all through an observation of a structural feature in the linguistic usage: he noticed that some hundred-names, primarily the names of hundreds in the oldest districts, include the word härad in the name, even in the earliest sources, while other hundred- names, often on the periphery of the province, only had the härad appended to the name later, during the Middle Ages (Fig. 1; Andersson 1965:171–174, 1982:67–76.). This observation allowed Andersson to distinguish between primary hundred-names (“primära häradsnamn”), which were the names of hundreds right from the start, and secondary ones (“ursprungliga bygdenamn”), those which were first the names of settlement districts and were then “reused” and, with the later addition of härad, were fitted into the hundred organization. Andersson likewise put this into a chronological framework, and his conclusion was that the origin of the hundred organization could be found in Denmark (Andersson 1965, 1999:435–440). Andersson’s research has been influential, like Sahlgren’s, and his view of primary and secondary hundreds is still the modern accepted model (Andersson 1999, Hallberg 2009:23). Sahlgren’s and Andersson’s works should not, however, be regarded as the end of the discussion (Andersson 1982:46–50, Jørgensen 1980:33–51). The main objection to the theory of an ancient Skåne (the southwestern part of the modern province) without hundreds, is that the area is too big not to have been divided into smaller units (Andersson 1982:53–55, Jørgensen 1980:39). The hundreds have often been dated on the basis of the fact that in Skåne they are not mentioned in the Deeds of Knut the Holy from 1085 but have become general by the time of King Valdemar’s cadastre of 1235 (Bolin 1930:208–214, Christensen 1977). Andersson counters with a different explanation for this: that the Skåne estates mentioned in Knut’s charter are close to the cathedral in Lund and were so well known that it was unnecessary to specify the hundred in which they were located (Andersson 1982:55–59). Thorsten Andersson acknowledged that the division into primary and secondary hundred-names and the dating of the hundreds is not without problems, and pointed out that there are names that include the word härad that are very old and do not appear to have anything to do with the hundred organization that we know from the Middle Ages. Andersson thus envisages a Norse ancestor of the word härad in the sense of a “settlement district”, with prehistoric roots (Andersson 1982:67–74, 1999:435–440). Revising the Established Viewpoint The case studies explored in this article demonstrate a range of shared features that can also be found in other areas, especially in southern and eastern Skåne. These can be summarized as follows: • Close to the thing sites there are prehistoric sites of special significance, with names corresponding to the name of the hundred and to the name of one or more nearby villages. • Thing sites are located close to old roads. • Thing sites and execution places are separate but within sight of each other. • Thing sites and execution sites related to the hundred-administration are highly visible in the landscape. • Thing sites and execution sites are close to, but not in, the villages whose names correspond to the hundred-names. • Thing sites and execution sites are often on the boundary between several parishes (Schön 2000:81–82; Svensson 2007:211, 2012:400; Wallin 1951:178). Assembly sites, judging by field-names with the element ting, do not lie in the villages whose names correspond to the names of hundreds. Instead the names with ting are found in the outlands of these villages or even in or near other villages in the vicinity. One may wonder whether the villages that have names resembling hundred-names have any organizational or administrative connection at all with the functions of the judicial assembly and the hundred. There is not much to suggest that this is the case, which means that we must ask ourselves if it is not instead the case that the hundreds and the villages with similar names were separately and independently named after familiar, high-status, archaic natural sites close to which assemblies were held. Rönneberg Hundred, for example, would then have nothing to do with the village of Rönneberga, but would derive (perhaps via an inhabitant name) from the impressive rise in the land—“rowan mountain”—filled with large burial mounds between Journal of the North Atlantic O. Svensson 2015 Special Volume 8 90 as difficult a pursuit as it is important to distinguish between the reuse of narratives intended to bestow tradition and legitimacy on a judicial site and on the actions taking place there, and actual site continuity in some form going back to prehistoric time (Sanmark and Semple 2008, Svensson 2012:400–401). Finally, it cannot be doubted that the old central districts in Scandinavia have hundred-names with the addition of härad earlier than the more peripheral ones. It has been questioned whether this is true in Denmark as well, but Thorsten Andersson has shown, with Halland as an example, that the same pattern can be seen in Denmark as elsewhere (Andersson 1982:51–60). Perhaps the reasons suggested for the observed pattern can be challenged. Is the distribution of hundred-names really associated with a development over time? An alternative could be that the primary hundred-names simply reflect a settlement structure where population density was high and villages were close together, and it is thus highly probable that a well-known place in the landscape not only became the name of an assembly site (and hence of a hundred) but also the name of one or more villages. This development then led to a need to distinguish between different places with the same name. Could the main purpose of the primary hundred names have been to distinguish sites like Vemmenhög village and Vemmenhög Hundred? Such names could then have served as models for analogical formations. To say anything definite about this would require a more detailed analysis than I have presented here. But the potential for a continued discussion certainly seems to exist. Acknowledgments Sincere thanks to Frode Iversen, Alexandra Sanmark, and the TAP-team for inviting me to an interesting workshop at Utstein monastery in 2011 and to participate in this volume. Following the TAP-project has added a large amount of information and inspiration to my own research. Literature Cited Almquist, J.E. 1954. Lagsagor och domsagor i Sverige: med särskild hänsyn till den judiciella indelningen 1. Norstedt, Stockholm, Sweden. 447 pp. Andersson, I. 1947. Skånes historia. [1], Till Saxo och Skånelagen. Norstedt, Stockholm, Sweden. 497 pp. Andersson, T. 1965. Svenska häradsnamn: [Namen schwedischer härad-Bezirke]. Dissertation. Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. 397 pp. Andersson, T. 1982. Danska häradsnamn: Olika typer i formellt hänseende. Namn och bygd 70:46–76. Andersson, T. 1984. Danska bygde- och häradsnamn. Namn och bygd 72:90–100. Andersson, T. 1999. Herred. Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, 2. Aufl 14:435–440. the village and the assembly site (Sahlgren 1920:56; see also Andersson 1965:98). Vemmenhög hundred would not be called after the villages of Östra Vemmenhög or Västra Vemmenhög but after Vemmenhögarna— the well-known mounds (or one of the mounds) between Östra and Västra Vemmenhög, not far from the assembly site. And Torna Hundred would have nothing to do with the villages of Östra and Västra Torn but rather derive from the name of a site with a particularly famous thorn tree, or a grove of thorn trees, located between the two villages, not far from the assembly site. As a semantic parallel to this naming, the names of the medieval castle fiefs may be cited. The fief of Helsingborg is not, as one might think, named after the town of Helsingborg, but after the site that was relevant for the fief as an administrative unit: the castle of Helsingborg. That this is the case is evident from other fief names with explicit reference to a magnate’s house, such as the gård in the name Lundagårds län or the hus in Malmöhus län. Hundred-names which undoubtedly contain settlement names do exist, but there are not as many as one might think. In Skåne, there are only three such hundreds in Österlen—Herrestad, Ingelstad, and Järrestad. Of the 98 hundred-names in present-day Denmark, only about a fourth, depending on how one counts, are primary settlement names. It is noteworthy that only three names contain by far the most common settlement-name element in Scandinavia, torp, and that the most common generic in the hundred- names that contain primary settlement names is lev (six examples), which had fallen out of use before the Viking Age. It is difficult not to see this as an indicator that the hundreds, or at any rate the central assembly sites around which the hundreds are organized, mostly existed before the Viking Age. The assembly function is the core of the concept of the hundred, and the assembly sites gave their names to the hundred; this assertion is what is also claimed in earlier research.7 But it has been assumed that the assembly sites were located in the villages with names resembling the hundred names, which is not correct (see Dalberg and Kousgård Sørensen 1979:56–57, Sahlgren 1920:56). When we consider the spatial context in which the hundred-names belong, it is not in big villages with early medieval churches but in ancient, magnificent places—sections of landscape—that were visible from far away, offering an extensive view and a sense of control, and epic in the sense that there are names and other narratives linking them to the ancient past, to bygone rules, to burial traditions, and to pre-Christian cult. This finding should of course have consequences for our view of the age of the judicial districts. But it is Journal of the North Atlantic O. 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Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. 482 pp. Endnotes 1Associations like these have also been questioned (Nicklasson 2008:40, 183, Schledermann 1974:373). 2Surveys in Jennbert et al. (2002). Nevertheless place names related to cult must be seen as a rich source material. See Vikstrand (2001). A survey of the possibilities and limitations can be found in Andrén (2002:299–320). 3Brink (1998:300), referring to Gurevich (1985) and Herschend (1997) stresses “the autonomous role of the assembly alongside the doings of the social elite”, but nevertheless points to a number of areas in southern Sweden where the toponymic evidence seems to indicate geographical proximity between assembly, cult, and a magnate’s residence. 4Adam of Bremen and Olaus Magnus described the third god, Frigga, as a man. For Chytraeus, this deity was a virgin. Otherwise their accounts are similar (Körner 1962:192–196). 5Further support of an assembly site at Arendala may come from the fact that some manuscripts of Archbishop Eskil’s church law from the start of the 12th century say that this law was adopted in a stone house on a hill between Dalby and Lund, which would fit the location of Arendala (Blomqvist 1951:20–21). 6The account of Vemmenhög is based on Svensson (2007:198–204). 7Andersson (1965). It should be added, however, that the hundreds were also used, as early as the Middle Ages, as royal administrative centers and for purposes of tax collection (Bolin 1930:210).