Tag Archives: Viking

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

Since it opened in 1984, the JORVIK Viking Centre in York has been a popular place to visit to learn about Viking life. I remember going there on a school trip a few years after it opened. I was really taken with the recreation of a Viking settlement, complete with sounds and smells!

Over half term I took the boy for the day. We were visiting York for the JORVIK Viking Festival and we figured the JORVIK Viking Centre would be a good place to start. We arrived bright and early, which was just as well as on busy days the queue to get in can snake around the square.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

When you enter, beyond the ticket office you walk down a flight of stairs (a lift is available) and enter a large room with a glass floor. Underneath the glass floor you can see the remains of the archaeological dig which the site it built upon. Around the walls there are information panels telling the story of the JORVIK Centre and some pieces which they uncovered during the dig.

A guide dressed in Viking clothes welcomed us and talked us through what we were standing on and what you can see through the glass. He also told us about the 2015 flood which filled the centre with water and closed it for almost two years. The JORVIK Viking Centre reopened in 2017. The closure meant that they could refresh and update the centre; so it’s almost how I remembered it, but more modern and a bit better.

After you’ve explored the room with the glass floor, you join a short queue for the Time Warp. This is probably one of the most famous things about JORVIK. You climb into a car and it takes you back to 975 AD to a Viking settlement. There’s commentary to listen to and it takes you through all the sights, sounds and smells of Viking life. There are mannequins which I’m told are now modeled on the faces of actual Vikings; which makes things feel even more authentic.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

All life is there in the Time Warp, from women cooking and shopping, and children playing; to butchers and fishermen at work. It really brings the living conditions to life and was a real talking point for my son. The old Time Warp which I remember really stayed with me, and this is no different. It’s a really accessible way of teaching Viking history.

From the Time Warp you move to the artifacts room which has over 800 finds from the site; with interactive displays and the chance to learn about life in the 10th century.  There are several Viking guides to greet you and talk to you about life as a Viking. When you enter the room you’re met by displays of two excavated skeletons, the information about them is incredible. There’s even a piece of fossilised poo on display, gross things always excite the children and this was no different.

There’s an interactive screen where you can learn about Viking musical instruments and listen to them being played. You can also watch Viking money being minted; try on a helmet and find out more about Viking combs; (apparently the Vikings were a tidy bunch, bathing weekly and keeping their hair and beards neat and tidy). There are lots of artifacts to look at, it’s fascinating and I would have liked to have really taken my time to look around it.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

Beyond the artifact room is the gift shop, which is excellent. If you manage to leave without buying a Viking shield for an 8 year old, you’re a stronger person than me.

The JORVIK Viking Centre is an excellent way to bring history to life for children. It’s really well done and I’m pleased that it has been brought up to date following the flood. The 12 minute long Time Warp is the real attraction here. It’s the kind of thing I’d like to do twice, just to see the things I missed the first time. I know that visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre will really help my 8 year old’s understanding of the period, and that’s never a bad thing.

For more information about JORVIK Viking Centre in York, visit their website.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

Vikings are very much the flavour of the month in our house. We’ve been doing a lot of reading about Vikings, and the boy is learning about them at school. What better way to bring some Viking learning to life than to take a trip to York and visit the JORVIK Viking Festival.

The JORVIK Viking Festival takes place every February, and the start of the festival fell during our half term. This year the JORVIK Viking Festival runs from 20 – 27 February 2019. It’s a family friendly festival and the largest event of its kind in Europe. There are historic encampments, talks, tours, combat displays and much more, all during half term week. This year the festival has a special focus on the untold story of women in the Viking age.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

We arrived in York bright and early on the second day of the festival. Parking near the JORVIK Viking Centre, we were surprised at just how busy it was so early in the day. Just after 9am there were queues stretching around the courtyard to get into the Jorvik Centre. If you are planning to go, it’s probably an idea to pre-book fast track tickets beforehand.

Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre is a great place to start. The Viking guides talk you and walk you through the archaeological dig; you go on a time travel ride which takes you through a Viking village and all life within it; and there’s a fascinating artifacts gallery to explore.

During the JORVIK Viking Festival, there are a number of areas within York where you will find Viking goings on. All of the events and activities are listed on the website, but we picked up a booklet which listed everything and had a map, and we found that much easier to follow.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

From the JORVIK Viking Centre we went to nearby Parliament Street where the Viking Encampment was located. The encampment is set up with Viking stalls, where you can watch craftsmen make wooden bowls, jewellery and Viking combs, as well as blacksmiths at work and even a Viking tattooist. At one end is a large tent where little ones can try their hands at making some Viking crafts. There’s even a Viking long-boat to have a look at. We really loved this area and returned to it several times during the day, the boy and I especially liked watching the wooden bowl making.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

Before lunch, we visited Barley Hall, which is tucked away in the backstreets of York. Barley Hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse which was originally built around 1360 by the monks of Nostell Priory near Wakefield. Extended in the 15th century; Barley Hall went into a slow decline and was eventually bought by the York Archaeological Trust in 1987 and restored into the museum we see today.

It’s a really interesting museum, and during the Viking Festival, it is playing host to a number of special events and exhibits. We went along to see the Seers and Shamans: Magic in the Viking Age exhibit. There were lots of interactive activities for children to do, and lots to interest adults. It’s such an interesting museum, especially if you’re interested in domestic history.

Moving on from Barley Hall, we headed over to the St Sampson’s Square Stage to watch a Viking Shield Maiden do battle with a Viking Warrior. This was really interesting and my boy loved watching them battle. They battled and then talked us through each move and why they’d made each move. We learned a lot about how Vikings fought, and it was good to see some axe wielding and sword swinging close up.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

We’d filled a whole day with Viking Festival fun, but somehow we’d hardly scratched the surface. There was so much more that we wanted to do and we were all regretting not booking a hotel for the night and staying another day. Next year perhaps.

The programme of events for the JORVIK Viking Festival is packed and varied; with something for every kind of Viking enthusiast. If you’re visiting it’s worth deciding beforehand what you can’t miss and what you’d like to see and do. Book ahead for anything the programme recommends you book for and do spend some time on Parliament Street, it’s brilliant.

The full programme of events for this years JORVIK Viking Festival is available at  www.jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk

 

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

Read my preview of the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival here.

What’s On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

Thanks to my love of the TV series, The Last Kingdom, and my son learning all about Vikings at school, we’ve been reading a lot about life as a Viking. One way for us to learn more about Viking life is for us to visit York for the day and take in some of the JORVIK Viking Festival. The JORVIK Viking Festival happens every February, around half term and it’s a full on festival of all things Viking.

I’ve been wanting to go for a few years, but this year we are going for the day and I honestly can’t wait and neither can my 8 year old.

What's On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

What’s On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

This year the JORVIK Viking Festival will be taking place on 20 – 27 February 2019. It’s a family friendly festival and the largest event of its kind in Europe. There are historic encampments, talks, tours, combat displays and much more, all during half term week. So what’s on at the JORVIK Viking Festival?

Have-a-go sword (10am – 4pm daily, Spark:York – £5 per child)

The sword was one of the most important weapons for any Viking warrior, and training in its use started young! Skilled teachers will take children (aged 5 – 12) through basic training in fun battle workshops. Pre-booking is recommended.

Poo Day! (10am – 4pm, 20 and 27 February, DIG – included in entry)

Guaranteed to be germ-free, participants in Poo Day discover how important human waste is to understanding diet and health. Visitors will even have the chance to make their own replica poo fossil!

Little Diggers (10am, daily except Saturday, DIG – £5 per child)

Perfect for the youngest budding archaeologists in the family (ages 3 – 7), each day the Little Diggers team will help them explore treasures from the past, from Viking hoards to food and clothing.

Family walking tour (1pm, daily except Saturday, starts from JORVIK Viking Centre – £5 adult, £4 concession, £15 family)

With 4500 years of history to work with, this family friendly tour is packed with fascinating facts about York’s colourful past; led by one of JORVIK’s own Viking guides! Expect to hear about everyone from Roman Emperor Constantine and Eric Bloodaxe; to Robin Hood and King Arthur in this hour-long wander around the streets.

Viking Encampment (10am – 4pm daily, Parliament Street – free)

The Vikings were a people who liked to travel and they have set up a camp in Parliament Street for the week of the JORVIK Viking Festival. Meet traders and crafts people and get the chance to handle replica artifacts and weaponry in this interactive Norse experience at the heart of the city.

Birds of Prey at Barley Hall (10am – 5pm, 22 February, Barley Hall – included in entry)

Birds of prey featured heavily in Norse sagas and Viking mythology; get up close with these stunning creatures at Barley Hall. Meet a variety of ravens, owls and falcons in the medieval Great Hall, and learn about their significance to the Vikings in the accompanying exhibition. Visitors will also enjoy Seers and Shamans: Magic in the Viking Age, a special extension of Barley Hall’s Magic and Mystery exhibition.

What's On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

Strongest Viking Competition (11am, 23 February, St Sampson’s Square – free)

Pick your champion and cheer them on in these trials of strength and endurance to find JORVIK’s strongest Viking! This annual competition pits warrior against warrior in a series of challenges that will leave muscles aching for days!

March to Coppergate (1.30pm, 23 February, starts from York Minster – free)

Watch a fearsome Viking army of over 200 warriors dressed in their finest combat gear parade through the streets of York. Watch them form a formidable column of combatants, making their way from York Minster to Coppergate, and on to the Eye of York. 

Annual Best Beard Competition (3.00pm, 23 February, St Sampson’s Square – free)

Natural-grown, woolly, cardboard – young and old; male and female beards of every description are welcome to compete in this annual celebration of fabulous facial follicles! There are prizes and trophies for the best entries – voted by the audience – with participants registering on the day.

Battle Spectacular at Folkvangr Fields (6.45pm, 23 February, Eye of York – £15 adult, £11 concession, £44.50 family)

The biggest event during the annual JORVIK Viking Festival is the Battle Spectacular; featuring drama, music, combat and concluding with a stunning firework finale! Wrap up warm and take your place around the Eye of York, in the shadow of Clifford’s Tower. It’s an unforgettable evening where the forgotten sagas of the most extraordinary women in the Viking world are brought to life by a cast of over 100 warriors.

The full programme of events for this years JORVIK Viking Festival is available at  www.jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk

To craft, or not to craft – Celebrating Shakespeare 400

This year sees the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. To celebrate his life and work, stationers Viking sent me some crafting goodies and asked me to create a craft project featuring one of Shakespeare’s quotes. So I invited my craftiest friend Sarah around for an evening of crafting, chat and at least one bottle of chablis.

Sarah is an accomplished paper cutter and makes the most beautiful paper crafts, so she brought her paper cutting kit and I got my craft box out. To our existing stock we added the crafting goodies Viking had sent for our evening and we mulled over the brief whilst searching for Shakespeare quotes online. Independently we both came up with a similar idea.

Shakespeare

Our craft goodies from Viking

I had some watercolour paints and a couple of spare canvases, we both decided to paint a background on the canvas and then add our Shakespeare quotes. Sarah loves stars and the night sky, so she chose to paint a dusky sky and use a quote about stars. I love the colour teal, so wanted a  teal-ish canvas with a “go get ’em” semi motivational quote for my office.

Sarah began by painting her sky and then left her canvas to dry whilst she cut out some stars.

Shakespeare

Once her canvas was dry she used a silver metallic paint pen to write her quote and then she carefully glued her paper stars and some sequins in a shooting star formation on the canvas, I thought it looked really beautiful.

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves”

Shakespeare

I chose the famous quote from Hamlet “To thine own self be true” and I selected a much smaller canvas with an easel.  After painting the canvas with a few different shades of teal and blue (the photo doesn’t show the colours as well as it should) I left it to dry before using a paint brush and some burnt sienna watercolour paint to write my quote on the canvas.

Shakespeare

It didn’t take very long to do and I’m not 100% happy with it, but I like it well enough for it to take up residence in my office.

Having finished my intended project a little too quickly, I decided to have a play with my new golden feathered calligraphy quill and the little pot of ink. I can’t do calligraphy but I thought I’d have a play anyway.

Shakespeare

It was rather good fun and something I would try and use in future craft projects. There’s a bit of a knack to using a quill and a pot of ink, so it took me a few blobby goes before I got something I quite liked, and I quite liked this.

Shakespeare

And using the metallic gold paint pen I wrote this, a line from Sonnet 116 which I’ve been completely in love with for years.

Sarah and I go to a monthly craft club and we enjoy getting stuck in and having a go, often with mixed results, but it’s all good fun and makes for an interesting evening. This was our first craft evening together where we’ve not been supervised by experts, and I think Sarah in particular has produced something especially lovely. 

We’ve decided to have a few more craft evenings together, mainly because you don’t get wine at craft club I think, but also because it was interesting and fun. 

Note: We were sent products free of charge from Viking to use to create our Shakespearean masterpieces, and also in return for this blog post.