Viking Thing Site

In 2013 excavations at the Cromartie Monument car park in Dingwall uncovered evidence of a mound that archaeologists believe was established in the 11th century as a gathering spot for a Viking parliament, known as a “Thing”.  It is believed that the mound was built on the instructions of Thorfinn the Mighty, a powerful Viking earl who died in 1065.

David MacDonald, of Dingwall History Society, who was involved in the excavation of the site in 2013, has been quoted as saying that a road, a ditch and an aqueduct, known as the Water of Dyke, that drew water from hillside springs, were also constructed when Thorfinn was in control of Ross-shire, and that Thorfinn’s rise to power was aided by his victory in a battle at Torfnes on the south side of the Cromarty Firth, possibly against MacBeth’s troops.  At the height of his power, Thorfinn became Lord of Caithness, Shetland and Orkney.

Although the site is now a carpark, the mound shape is still visible (for many years being called a "moot hill" which confirms its historical importance as an assembly point).  At the centre of the mound is the Cromartie Monument. Around 1710, an obelisk was erected to commemorate the life of the 1st Earl of Cromartie, Sir George Mackenzie.  After his death in 1714 he was buried beside it. This monument was damaged during an earthquake in 1816 and was banded together with metal straps to keep it stable.  A century later (1923), the monument had begun to lean so dangerously that it was rebuilt and the height reduced greatly.  This is the monument that we can see today.

 Cromartie Monument