Thynghowe in Sherwood Forest. © Steve Horne and The Friends of Thynghowe
Amateur history buffs have uncovered an important archaeological feature called Thynghowe in Sherwood Forest and are working with archaeologists and forestry officials to unravel the secrets of the ancient meeting place dating back to at least Viking times.
The discovery was made by history lover and former teacher Lynda Mallett, together with husband Stuart Reddish and John Wood, after they used an old "perambulation" document dating to 1816, which led them to the hill and a series of historic boundary stones.
The site had vanished from modern maps and was essentially lost to history until the local enthusiasts made their discoveries.
Experts think the rediscovered site, which lies amidst the gnarled old oaks of an area known as the Birklands in Sherwood Forest, may also yield clues as to the boundary of the ancient Anglo Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.
Al Oswald, an Archaeological Investigator with English Heritage, recently inspected the site and believes it is a national rarity. He explained: “I was very surprised by this discovery. There are only a handful of such sites surviving in the British Isles in places like Orkney and the Lake District.”
Nearby are several boundary stones. This one has a W marked on it to denote the boundary of Warsop. © Steve Horne and The Friends of Thynghowe
“Basically, Thynghowe was a place where people came to resolve disputes and settle issues – quite literally where people came to talk about things,” he added. “It’s a Norse word, although it's quite possible the site is much older still, perhaps even Bronze Age. The word howe often indicates a prehistoric burial mound.”
“We do know that it's been an important place for centuries and even today there are three parish boundary markers on top of the mound. This is an exceptional survivor and needs further study."
After reporting the intriguing find to local history society members in Clipstone, Warsop and Edwinstowe, a new group, The Friends of Thynghowe, has now been formed to work with forest chiefs to investigate the site's significant history and encourage wider community appreciation and involvement.
"Our forests in Nottinghamshire contain many historic sites, but it's down to the efforts of local people that Thynghowe has re-emerged from the shadows,” said Forestry Commission Ranger Andrew Norman. “It's our policy to protect the site and work with the community to ensure its continued survival.”
Hanger Hill - a meeting place of over a thousand years. © Steve Horne and The Friends of Thynghowe
The Friends of Thynghowe are participating in a Woodland Champions Project, which aims to encourage people to care for their natural heritage. Thynghowe is one of eight case studies which feature in a Woodland Heritage Manual produced by Sheffield Hallam University, showing how such grassroots involvement can be successful.
For more information on the Friends of Thynghowe call Andrew Norman on 01623 882447.
Find out more about Thynghowe and explore a walking trail of the area on the Sherwood Forest Website