The Scandinavian peoples emerge into the light of history much later than their neighbours in the South and the West, the Teutons on the Continent and in England. It was only through the Viking raids that the Nordic peoples came into touch with the rest of Europe, and were gradually converted to Christianity. Long after the introduction of the Christian faith they preserved many peculiar and archaic traits. Thus the Nordic peoples retained, with great tenacity and conservatism, their ancient judicial system. This system has therefore been the object of considerable interest even outside Scandinavia, although the manuscripts through which it has become known are much later than the corresponding documents of other Teutonic nations.
An investigation of the localities where justice was dispensed in former ages is of importance not only for the history of civilization, but also as a complement to the study of oral and written tradition, and thus to the history of law itself. In view of the many points of similarity between the judicial systems of the various Teutonic nations, some notes on the Thing-steads, or places of assembly, in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, may perhaps be of interest to English-speaking readers.
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