Into the Viking North and JORVICK

"Over the foaming salt sea spray, The Norse sea-horses took their way, Racing across the ocean-plain.”

Last Winter, shortly after moving up to Lincolnshire we took a trip further North to the beautiful ancient City of York. I had last visited over 20 years ago but had always wanted to go back to the land of the Danes. 
Leaving early in the morning to get a head start on traffic we set off, flask and picnic in hand.

On arrival we explored the City centre, enjoying the pre-christmas markets and hustle and bustle. Remarkably the streets did feel familiar and we found our way to the wonderful Jorvick Centre. A very special kind of Museum, which takes you back in time, in every way, to the days when Vikings ruled the world...

~ At JORVIK Viking Centre you are standing on the site of one of the most famous and astounding discoveries of modern archaeology.
Thirty years ago the archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust revealed the houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking-Age city of Jorvik, as it stood 1,000 years ago. ~
~ They removed eights tonnes of rubble and over 40,000 artefacts! York Archaeological Trust then built the JORVIK Viking Centre on the very site where the excavations had taken place, creating a groundbreaking visitor experience that changed the face of museums. Their determination to recreate a Viking city as authentically as possible from the layout of the houses, the working craftsmen, the language of the gossiping neighbours, to the smells of cooking and the cesspit meant it has now been visited by more than 15 million people during its 25 years of opening. ~

For much of my life I have been drawn to Norse history, the Vikings, and the Myths, and so its no surprise that I love being able to visit a lifelike Viking settlement. 
The great thing is that you are in a moving seat, much like a slow moving roller coaster, while a speaker by the headrest tells you where  you are in the village, whilst the sounds of village life & the smells (yes... smells!) give you a lifelike impression of what it is to be part of one.

When The Vikings Ruled  In Britain
~ The Great Viking Army  otherwise known as The Great Heathen Army was a coalition of Norse warriors, originating from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, who came together under a unified command to invade the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that constituted England in AD 865.
Since the late 8th century, the Vikings had settled for mainly "hit-and-run" raids on centres of wealth, such as monasteries. However, the intent of the Great Army was different, it was much larger than the usual raiding party and its purpose was to conquer. Legend has it that the force was led by the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok. The campaign of invasion and conquest against the four remaining Anglo-Saxon kingdoms lasted 14 years. Unlike many of the Scandinavian raiding armies of the period, surviving sources give no firm indication of its numbers, but it was clearly amongst the largest forces of its kind.
The invaders initially landed in East Anglia, where the king provided them with horses for their campaign in return for peace. They spent the winter of 865–66 at Thetford, before marching north to capture York in November 866.
By 874 only the kingdom of Wessex had not been conquered by the invading Vikings. It was towards the end of 875 when the army started their second invasion of Wessex. After a few setbacks, Alfred the Great defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Edington, and a treaty was agreed upon, whereby the Vikings were able to remain in control of much of northern and eastern England. By this time the Vikings had split into two bands. Halfdan led one band north to Northumbria, where he overwintered by the river Tyne (874–75). In 875 he ravaged further north to Scotland, where he fought the Picts and the Britons of Strathclyde. Returning south of the border in 876, he shared out Northumbrian land amongst his men, who "ploughed the land and supported themselves"; this land was part of what became known as the Danelaw.
The influence of Viking settlement is still to be seen in the North of England and the East Midlands today. The area of the Danelaw is marked by the survival of Danish personal names and place-names. Place name endings such as -by (meaning "village") such as Grimsby ('Grimr's town') and Wetherby ('sheep's town') or -thorp ("hamlet") indicate Norse origins, such as Scunthorpe. There are also place names that are a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Viking words. These are known as 'Grimston hybrids', because -ton is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning town or village, and Grim is a Viking name.
Most English words starting with sk are Norse in origin, such as skein, skirt and skill. They also introduced a number of words that reflected their lifestyle and origins, such as shoal, walrus sled, sledge, and the nautical term wake.Many Old Norse words still survive in the dialects of Northern England.
The Danelaw roughly occupied the area north of a line drawn from London to Chester. It included five fortified towns, or burhs, including Leicester, Lincoln, Notthingham, Stamford and Derby.This division of land meant that the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings could live and trade peacefully.
The Danelaw slowly became smaller over time. By AD918 the southern Danelaw was back under Anglo-Saxon control. In the north, Viking power collapsed after the Battle of Brunanburh in AD937. ~

After the fun of pretending to be Viking settlers, we explore the City some more. The pretty street that is known as 'The Shambles'... a lovely section of tight knit buildings on a cobbled street, still in use, which dates back from the 14th Century.
It feels a little Harry Potterish to walk down, although my photos on a grey, cold December day don't really do it justice!

There's more to do in York than can easily be accomplished in one day, but we decided to head through the streets for York Castle, known as Cliffords Tower. A Motte and Bailey design which has a spectacular, if not a little leg wobbling view of York from the top of the wall. 

~ Clifford's Tower stands as a proud symbol of the power of England's medieval kings. Originally built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebels of the north, it was twice burned to the ground, before being rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century. The tower takes its name from one grisly incident in its long history, when Roger de Clifford was executed for treason against Edward II and hanged in chains from the tower walls. With sweeping panoramic views of York and the surrounding countryside, it isn't hard to see why Clifford's Tower played such a crucial role in the control of northern England. ~

Next time there is York Minster & the dungeons to explore... ;)
We spent a full and happy day there. Unsurprisingly its one of my favourite Cities in fact.

“A tale is but half told when only one person tells it.”
The Saga of Grettir the Strong


  1. What an interesting post about the Vikings. York is a fabulous city though it's a few years since I was last there. I haven't been to Jorvik since it was updated so would love to see it again. I've been to the Castle Museum a few times but never climbed Clifford's Tower - it's definitely time for another visit I think.


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