The Vikings as Traders, Crafters and Settlers: The Jorvik Viking Centre, Coppergate

With thanks to frankdouwes via Creative Commons

Another and final exhibition I visited while I was up in York was the Jorvik Viking Centre which was created by the York Archaeological Trust in 1984. The exhibition recreates what the excavated part of Jorvik would’ve looked like during Viking times (it comes complete with a ‘ride’ with robotic doll Vikings speaking Scandinavian!) I remember once visiting the centre when I was in primary school but, unfortunately, most of that had faded from my memory (apart from the ‘smell’ of a Viking market street – not pleasant to say the least!). This time I had to make sure I would have a better recollection of it than last, therefore I took copious notes on a rather large clipboard. Here are some of the things I learnt while I was there:

Evidence relating to the existence and activities of Vikings in the UK (particularly York or ‘Jorvik’)

  • The dig at Coppergate revealed that York was under Viking control and subsequently grew in size, changed in appearance and economic role in England. By the 10th century York was intensively built up and by 1066 had more than 15,000 inhabitants (England’s second largest city in terms of both population and wealth) . Objects unearthed at the dig as well as environmental evidence showed that it was a booming city with trade links.
  • Other evidence unearthed from the dig such as wooden cores discarded as waste product when making cups and bowls on a rotary pole lathe (‘Coppergate’ also came from the Norse to mean ‘street of the cupmakers!), metal iron works such as knives and dress accessories and pendants from glass, amber and jet indicate that the Vikings were crafters and traders
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