Skeid – uncovering a fleeting meeting site
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Original versionIn: Albris, S. F. (ed.). Placing Place Names in Norwegian Archaeology. Current Discussions and Future Perspectives, 99-116.
Although scarcely represented in archaeological or historical sources, place names reveal how widespread assemblies of the skeid-type were held throughout Norway, at least from the Viking Age/Early Middle Ages. These bottom-up organized types of gatherings were important centres of society, as hubs for communication and trade, and arenas for íþrótt (sport) and establishing and maintaining social ties. This paper presents the spatial distribution of 564 skeid-names. Of these, 320 skeid-names are closer than two kilometres from a medieval church site, or one or more of the following place names: hov/hof, ting, or leik/lek. Through an examination of the landscape, archaeological finds and place names, 37 sites are highlighted as most likely to have hosted a skeid-type assembly. From these three sites are discussed more in detail. The quantitative approach to place name data, in combination with archaeological and historical sources allows for an intriguing glimpse into the role and extent of a fleeting meeting site – the skeid.