JORVIK Viking Centre brings the Vikings to life in York once again
York’s JORVIK Viking Centre is celebrating the return of the Vikings to the world-famous attraction this weekend, which opens on Saturday 8 April 2017 following a four million pound re-imagining after the devastating flooding of 27 December 2015.
The whole attraction has undergone a major redevelopment, with almost the entire visitor experience updated and re-imagined within the world-famous Viking attraction whilst remaining true to the core values that led to its creation in 1984 – using real archaeology to tell the story of the Vikings that lived on the site in the year AD960.
“JORVIK Viking Centre is unique – it presents the incredible archaeology unearthed on this site in the 1970s and early 1980s in a way that can be understood and appreciated by everyone, from young children to seasoned academics. What was found on this very site changed everyone’s understanding of the Vikings in Britain, and this latest incarnation of JORVIK incorporates the latest technology and interpretative techniques to share the incredible depth of knowledge in an accessible way that immerses the visitor in the sights, sounds and of course, smells of the Viking-age city,” comments director of attractions, Sarah Maltby, who has led the transformation.
Some aspects of JORVIK were saved from the flooding – not only all the Viking artefacts which were rescued and removed as soon as water levels started to rise, but also the preserved Viking-age timbers found on the site, the ride mechanism and time capsules which transport visitors around the recreated city streets, and some of the Viking properties that remained above water level – and these aspects have been incorporated into the new visitor experience. All of the artefacts now form part of the stunning new, open-plan gallery.
The new JORVIK Viking Centre is the fourth incarnation of the popular attraction, which is built underneath the Coppergate Centre. The site first came to public attention in the late 1970s. Archaeologists from York Archaeologist Trust (YAT), the educational charity which subsequently created and continues to own and operate JORVIK Viking Centre, were surveying the ground underneath a demolished factory ahead of the shopping centre being built, and discovered incredibly well-preserved remains of streets in the principal Northern city of Viking Britain. Waterlogged, oxygen-free soil had stopped not only 1000-year-old timbers from rotting away, but had also preserved a huge selection of Viking artefacts, small and large. These provide a remarkable insight into life in the Viking-age – a period in York’s history that was previously largely forgotten.
“Before the flood, we had nearly six years’ of visitor feedback to help guide us on what people were looking for from a visit, and we’ve changed many aspects of the experience to respond to these comments – we’ve made greater use of video, photographs, sound and other memorabilia in the Discover Coppergate gallery, extended the time visitors spend on the ride by three minutes around Viking-age York, and opened up the artefact galleries to encourage visitors to stay longer enjoying the world-class treasures and artefacts on display, and chatting to our knowledgeable costumed interpreters,” explains Sarah.
The public reception to the re-opening has been great, with people pre-booking tickets from all over the country for the opening weekend, which has now sold out. However, visitors can be reassured that tickets will be available for purchase on the door during the opening weekend and beyond. “When JORVIK first opened in 1984, there was no pre-booking, and the queues around Coppergate hit the headlines in their own right! We would encourage anyone who wants to visit on our re-opening weekend and hasn’t pre-booked to join the queue and we will make sure to get everyone through the doors and back to Viking-age York. Plus, with all Viking-themed performances and activities taking place in the heart of the Coppergate Centre, there will be something to entertain and prepare visitors as they wait,” comments David Jennings, chief executive of York Archaeological Trust.
With the first 100 people through the doors on both Saturday and Sunday (8 & 9 April) receiving a special Golden Ticket – which will entitle them to a free limited edition replica coin, visitors during the first four weeks of opening will additionally have a special treat, as the York Helmet – an Anglo-Saxon helmet which was buried in Coppergate during the Viking period – will be on display just a couple of metres from where it was uncovered in 1982 by York Archaeological Trust. Following its four-week residency in JORVIK Viking Centre, the helmet will return to the Yorkshire Museum as part of the ‘Viking: Rediscover the Legend’ major new exhibition (19 May – 5 November 2017).
JORVIK Viking Centre is open daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm (last admissions) until 31 October, and from 10.00am to 4.00pm from November to March. From the 8th April and throughout Easter JORVIK will be open 10am to 6:30pm (last admissions).
Tickets can be pre-booked online at the new JORVIK website, www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk. Ticket prices remain the same as they did before JORVIK closed in December 2015: £10.25 for adults, £8.25 for concessions and £7.25 for children. Family tickets are available for £30.95 (two adults and two children) or £32.95 (two adults and three children). Full price tickets are valid for unlimited repeat visits for 12 months from the date of issue. Joint tickets are also available with other attractions in the JORVIK Group – please visit the website for details.