The Wirral has always been associated with the Norse Raiders or Vikings as we like to call them. Many
people do not actually know of the extent of the large community that was based in Wirral. Many of the
names of our villages and towns are derived from old Norse as too are many of the field names and
land we stand on today.
The word Thingwall is derived from Ping-vollr which is old Norse for Assembly or Parliament. Similar
place names in the British Isles include Tynwald, Dingwall, and Tingwall; see also Thingvellir in Iceland.
The name was given as Thingwall is thought to be the site of the Viking "Ping" or "Parliament".
The parliament was a significant site for Wirrals history as it ruled governed the whole Norse community
throughout the 10th and 11th century. The parliament would have met up once or twice a year to
discuss such matters as law, politics etc, similar in to our parliament today. Professor Steve Harding
believes that the parliament is possibly the oldest in mainland Britain, predating Iceland's Thingvellir by
30 years. In addition to this Wirral had its own Viking port at Meols or Melr meaning Sandbank.
The hill on which they gathered can be found on Barnston Road in Thingwall and is known locally as
Crosshill. Evidence shows that Viking communities grew up in North Wirral and Saxons in the South of
Wirral appeared to tolerate their new neighbours. The village of Raby was the set boundary between
Norse Wirral and Saxon Wirral, with the word Raby actually translating into the word Boundary in old
Norse. It seems clear that the Saxons lived with their Viking neighbours in relative peace, or at least
until the battle of Brununbagh in 937ad which is also believed to have taken place in Wirral.
The 'ping' performed legal settlements,
decided upon common matters and
legislated. (One says that the older
viking communities had two out of the
three state functions: Legislation and
Courts, but they lacked an Executive
branch. Hence if a person was found
guilty of say insulting a member of a
different family, the latter had to see to
it themselves that the Thing’s sentence
in the case was fulfilled.)
The most important historic place in
Iceland is Thingvellir, (meaning ’the
field of the Thing’). Iceland boasts to
have the world’s oldest existing
parliament, the ’Allting’.
The word is used in traditional and
modern institutional names in
Scandinavia, i.a. Parliaments: In
Norway ’Stortinget’, in Denmark ’
|The Ping or Viking Parliament
|Historian Mark Olly & Professor Steve Harding at the Ping-vollr
|Steve Harding in Thingwall
|Aerial view of Cross Hill and the Reservoir on the left side