Svensson Ola, Nämnda ting men glömda. Ortnamn, landskap och rättsutövning

Svensson Ola, Nämnda ting men glömda. Ortnamn, landskap och rättsutövning  [Named but forgotten things: Place-names, landscape and justice], Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2015, (dir. G. Byrman, S. Nyström, Linnéuniversitetet)

Résumé/abstract :

The dissertation describes the names related to justice and places in the landscape where justice was administered, applying an interdisciplinary perspective with place names as the chief source material. One aim is to collect and describe place names in Skåne designating or indirectly associated with meeting places and districts of the court, and to study the named places. The study covers many different periods, but especially the Middle Ages and the transition from the Late Iron Age to the Middle Ages. The analysis raises questions such as: Was there continuity in judicial sites between prehistoric and historic times? How old are the hundreds (härader)? Is there a spatial link between judicial sites and other central functions such as cult, markets, or rulers’ estates? The work is permeated by material-based onomastic research in combination with current perspectives in text research, historical geography, and archaeology. Nine case studies are conducted to describe the interaction between place, linguistic expression, and meaning. The study demonstrates the existence of a large corpus of names reflecting the early administration of justice. Most of the many field names which contain ting ‘court’ and galge ‘gallows’ can be related to the actual administration of justice. The medieval sites where courts assembled and people were executed stand out in particular, but in many cases these have prehistoric roots. Both unbroken continuity and the reuse of earlier places of assembly may be assumed. Close to sites with names indicating the administration of justice there are also landscape features with names that grant epic and mythical status to the locale. The special quality of these places was handed down, incorporated in larger narratives, based on changing ideas and circumstances in different periods. The landscape of the hundred courts (häradsting) is archaic, magnificent and mythical, and shared, qualities that contributed to the maintenance and legitimation of judicial practice. A division into a general, public judicial sphere and a more limited and exclusive sphere can be seen. In the medieval exercise of justice this division is manifested in two different judicial districts – härad and birk – but the phenomenon can be traced back to the Late Iron Age. The study also problematizes a traditional image of the names of the hundreds.

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