on June 13, 2011
Many Vikings travelled here from their Scandinavian homeland during the period from 800 to 1050 AD until wars led to the end of their time. Although they gained a fearsome reputation originally they were full-time fishermen and farmers who spent much of the year at home. Only in the summer months did they rally to the call of a local leader and venture across the sea to raid, trade or seek out new lands to settle.In the late 1970’s, archaeological discoveries at Coppergate in the centre of the medieval town of York led to revelations of the Vikings age in York. Unusual oxygen free conditions in the soil helped preserve many materials that normally rot away. The city’s Archaeological Trust therefore took the decision to recreate the excavated part of Jórvík, as the Vikings called the town. It created the figures, sounds and smells, as well as pigsties, fish market and latrines, to bring the town of 25th October 975 fully to life using innovative interpretative methods. The JORVIK Viking Centre opened in 1984 as an educational entertainment exhibition to reveal the age of the northern settlers. An extension in 2011 added two new galleries. When you enter the centre you stroll down to a spacious room with a glass floor. Beneath the floor are the remains of an excavated part of the Viking settlement. Around the rest of the room are video shows, photos and artefacts from the dig for study as you wait for the main attraction.In a "time car," you travel back through the street market of 975 peopled by faithfully modelled Vikings. You go through a house where a family lived and down to the river to see the ship chandlers at work and the unloading of a Norwegian cargo boat. The cars take six individuals, takes about 20 minutes to complete the time travel, and give a commentary explaining what you are viewing. You get off the ride into rooms full of characters of Viking life with clips of actors explaining their roles. I was particularly interested in that of the woodturner as I do some woodturning myself. He occupied an important place in the settlement as he produced the cups, plates and bowls. Others though like the metal worker, cobbler and ship wrights were equally important.Artefacts and human remains excavated have helped explain how the ancient Vikings of Jorvik lived and died. Analysis of the remains revealed the variety of afflictions and diseases they suffered from, and what was in their diet. The new Last Vikings of Jorvik exhibit gallery look at the final battles of the Viking age which shaped the early middle-ages city of York and foreshadowed the arrival of the Normans.Kids can join the archaeological investigation at DIG. There recreated excavation pits allow amateur explorers to handle real artefacts and decide what their use might have been and how that helps explain the story of how people lived in Roman, Viking, and Medieval times. The Jorvik Centre is open from 10am to 5pm (last admission) April through November and 10am to 4pm from November to April.
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