The Assembly Project (TAP)

The Assembly Project (TAP) – Meeting-places in Northern Europe AD 400-1500 was an international collaborative project focused on the first systems of governance and assembly in Northern Europe. This three year project ran between 2010 and 2013 and was jointly hosted by the University of Olso, Durham University, the University of Vienna and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Anundshög, Västmanland, Sweden. A site of assembly and gathering from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages.

Anundshög, Västmanland, Sweden. A site of assembly and gathering from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages.



Main research question: What was the role of assemblies (things) in the creation, consolidation and maintenance of collective identities, emergent polities and kingdoms in early medieval Northern European populations and communities?

The project will, in its entirety, contribute an entirely new combined data set for the study of early governance and administrative organisation in the societies of North West Europe. It will achieve a range of objectives including:

  •  the establishment of a relative chronology of assembly sites
  •  new knowledge on the role of assemblies in processes of territorialisation.
  •  a study of how law and collective norms and values were established and
  •  enforced onto colonised/conquered areas.
  •  a study of gender perspective concerning power relations and assembly access
  •  a historiography of assemblies and their relevance to the concepts of national
  •  identity and statehood


The key question will be addressed via multi-disciplinary research that examines assembly within the political development of kingdoms in Viking and medieval Scandinavia and those areas colonised and settled by the Norse.

In order to produce a set of comparative data all research questions will be approached using an established methodological framework that will use a joint GIS as an important analytical tool together with visual analysis, GPS-survey and excavation.

In addition other historic, ethnographic and archaeological methods will be applied. Data will be collected from national sites and monuments records (SMRs), older maps and taxation registers. Place-names will be considered. Sites of key significance will be photographed and surveyed with a DGPS and/or scanned with LiDAR (e.g. for creation of 3D-models).



The first systems of governance in Europe have long been a neglected research theme, with the significance of these places in the medieval world highlighted only in recent publications.




The Assembly Project was funded by the HERA Joint Research Programme ( which is co-funded by AHRC, AKA, DASTI, ETF, FNR, FWF, HAZU, IRCHSS, MHEST, NWO, RANNIS, RCN, VR and The European Community FP7 2007-2013, under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities programme.