The Tingvatn area in the municipality of Haegebostad is one of the most fascinating sites of historical and archaeological interest to be found in the county of Vest-Agder. It is also one of the most valuable and well preserved of Norway’s ancient tingsted (Place where council was held). There is one rectangular and three round stone henges, and tens of burial mounds. Local folk tradition is full of stories and anecdotes regarding the Tingvatn site. The henges in particular are the roots of many of these.

Reconstruction of a judgement-circle. Illustration: arkikon.no

In many places, both in Norway and in Sweden, the round stone henges are called dommarringar (judgement-circles). There is a living and strong tradition telling us that such places were used for matters of the law. This tradition, in the case of Tingvatn, is reinforced by written sources. In the Middle Ages Tingvatn was the central point of the jurisdiction of Vats.Vats or Vatne was the old name for Tingvatn, and the farm here was for several centuries the juridical centre of not only Haegebostad and Eiken, but also Bjelland and Grindheim. The actual farmstead of Tingvatn where the medieval council place is situated is to be found on the west side of the main road. The actual council mound is partly demolished but is still visible as a plateau down towards the lake, Lygnevatnet.

Historical legal document.

Between the burial field, called “the old council place”, and the farmstead of Tingvatn we find Galgebakken (Gallows Slope), a site said to have been used for executions in the old days. Local traditions tell of hauntings here.