The Assembly Project: Meeting Places in Northern Europe AD 400-1500
Assembly places and practices are fundamental to our understanding of how medieval society in Northern Europe was transformed from a network of small scale local power-structures to a competing system of large kingdoms with royally driven administrative infrastructures.
The assembly was an institution that emerged in a variety of shapes and forms in different parts of the North Sea zone. It provided an arena within which authority and power could be negotiated and consolidated, and territorial control extended. TAP was set up to establish a critical understanding of the assembly’s role in the consolidation and maintenance of collective identities and emergent kingdoms in Medieval and Northern Europe.
The project had three objectives:
- Examine how authority was expressed in landscape terms in the medieval North by new and developing kingdoms and how ideas of control and consensus were transferred and established.
- Create a cohesive account of the development of administrative systems within early and late medieval Britain and Europe, taking account of the impacts and effects of Norse colonisation in several regions.
- Assess how assemblies were given values and perceived on a pan-European basis in the early modern era, and how certain viewpoints were promoted by Romanticism and then by nationalism in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
TAP adopted a broad geographic approach to break down the national boundaries that have constrained past research on the development of political structures in Europe. By undertaking comparative work across England, Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, using a strict methodological framework and a common geographical information system (GIS), the project opened up the question of how complex society emerged in Northern Europe to broader and deeper scrutiny.