The Vikings will be on the march around York once again in February! (2019)
Now recognised as the largest festival dedicated to Vikings in Europe, this is a great chance to get up close and personal with our ancestors!
The word Viking actually means the act of sailing across the North Sea to attack the East coast of England. The raids started with an attack on Lindisfarne in AD793. The raids continued until The Great Heathen Army landed in Suffolk in 865 and swept North to colonise the North of England. They conquered York in 866 and made it a great trading centre due to the River Ouse giving access to the North Sea and beyond Europe. We know this from the materials found in the Coppergate Dig of 1976 to 1981, leather, wood and metals for domestic use, exotic things like whalebones, walrus ivory, amber, soapstone and 23 pieces of silk! This proved that the Vikings were great traders in goods as well as slaves, and that Jorvik was a centre of craftsmanship during this period.
The importance of the Coppergate Dig can be measured by the interest it generated around Europe. Not only our own Prince Charles came to see and get involved, he also helped raise funds after the flood of 2015, the Kings of Norway, Sweden and Denmark also took an active interest. Locally, over 500,000 people came to see the Dig, paying £1 to watch, or pay £2 to take away an oyster shell! The number of articles recovered from the damp soil are staggering, 40,000 artefacts found in the 5year dig. From this interest the idea was generated to make a permanent visitor attraction, and so, in 1984, Jorvik opened its doors, 900,000 visitors in the first year!