Jorvik Viking Centre
The Jorvik Viking Centre, situated at Coppergate, is one of Britain's most popular visitor attractions. It was created by the York Archaeological Trust in 1984 and designed by John Sunderland, when prior to the building of the Coppergate Shopping Centre, the trust conducted extensive excavations in the area.
Between the years 1976 and 81 archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust, including a team of about twelve professional excavators along with students from all over the world continued excavations. Their efforts revealed the houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking-Age city of Jorvik as it stood nearly 1,000 years ago.
The team excavated over 1,000 square metres, finding the remains of tenth century Viking age buildings surrounded by moist, spongy layers of earth similar to that of a peat bog, the damp conditions had helped to preserve everyday Viking items and a mass of finds were unearthed from every era of York's history. The excavation shone a light on the city's Viking past.
Finds included vast quantities of food remains such as animal bones and oyster shells, Roman and medieval roof tiles, weapons, a coin dye, timber and woven wattles, metal working slag and around a quarter of a million pieces of pottery. Archaeologists unearthed remarkable evidence of Viking cottage industry, including metalworking, jewellery making and the craft that gave Coppergate its name - the manufacture of wooden cups and bowls.
At the Jorvik Centre remains of 1,000 year old houses are revealed and objects uncovered from the excavations at Coppergate are on display. New audio and video exhibits help the visitor to investigate all of the information gathered from the 5-year long dig at Coppergate and piece together the puzzle of where the Vikings came from, how they came here to York, why they settled and how they lived, worked and traded with other civilizations across the world.
Visitors are taken back to 5:30 pm 25 October 975 AD in a time-capsule. The reconstructed Viking-age city includes citizens speaking the Old Norse language, their houses and back yards, the smells of the city at that time are also recreated. Pigsties, fish market and latrines are also recreated, with a view to bringing the Viking city fully to life using innovative interpretative methods. Using newly commissioned studies a female skeleton reveals to visitors how the Vikings of Jorvik lived, what diseases and afflictions they suffered from, what they ate and even what she looked like. Working with archaeologists from universities across Britain this new research is brought to the public for the first time. Among the exhibits is a replica of the Coppergate Helmet, which was found near the site of the centre and is now in the Yorkshire Museum.
Jorvik Viking Centre is not billed as a museum but as an “experience”; this type of educational representation of the past, known as a “Time Warp” experience, has become increasingly popular with the creation of Jorvik. The centre has received over 17 million visitors over the past 30 years, who journey through the reconstruction of Viking Age streets, as they would have appeared 1,000 years ago. The Centre also offers four exhibitions and the chance to actually come face to face with a Viking.
Jorvik Viking Festival
Recognised as the largest event of its kind in Europe, the annual Jorvik Viking Festival is a city-wide celebration of York's Viking heritage.Taking place every February Half Term, the festival’s programme of family-friendly events, lectures, guided walks and battle re-enactments attracts over 40,000 visitors each year from across the globe, with many returning year after year to take part and enjoy the atmosphere.
Vikings from all over the world descend on York for a week-long celebration of the last Viking King in York, Eric Bloodaxe. With an exciting programme of events inspired by this Norse monarch on offer including living history encampments, talks and of course dramatic combat performances there is something for everyone at the Viking Festival.
Images courtesy of Paul Johnson
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