Hålogaland becomes a law area

Prior to the mid-12th century Hålogaland, Northern Norway became a law area. This article discussed the process leading up to this, examining the 12–13 known courtyard sites (AD 200–900) of Hålogaland. A courtyard site is essentially a collection of houses or booths situated around an oval semi-circular open space (yard), and have recently been interpreted as representational thing-sites.

It is demonstrated that the number of houses at the sites corresponds with the number of local thing district within shires and half-shires, recorded in the late Middle Ages, suggesting a system where communities had their own booth at the assembly site. It is argued that the former administrative landscape consisted of three shires, six half-shires and 44 local units, which were replaced by a single law area, 13 ship-districts and 44 local units.

Prior to the 7th century, several small sites existed, which gradually became obsolete, until only three large sites were left, each central in a shire. A major shift occurred in the 10th century when the naval defence system known as the leiðangr was introduced, and later a new law thing for Hålogaland was established at Steigen, Engeløya in the mid-region.