Jorvik Viking Centre reopens 16 months after flood

HRH Prince Charles with archaeologists Peter Addyman and Richard Hall at the Coppergate dig in 1976. Photo courtesy York Archaeological Trust.On December 27, 2015, the Jorvik Viking Centre was flooded by the heavy rains that submerged downtown York. One of York’s most popular attractions, the Jorvik Centre is a recreation of the streets of Viking York whose foundations were discovered on and around Coppergate Street during an excavation by the York Archaeological Trust from 1976 to 1981. The excavations unearthed artifacts like a silk cap, coins, amber and cowrie shells that proved 10th century Viking York had extensive trade links stretching as far as the Byzantine Empire and beyond.

(The Lloyds Bank Coprolite. Photo courtesy the York Archaeological Trust.Coppergate is also the find spot for a record-breaking archaeological treasure: the Lloyds Bank Coprolite, discovered in 1972 at the construction site of the bank branch. It is the largest known human coprolite, a majestic turd eight inches long by two inches wide, that was mineralized and thus preserved in exceptional condition. The crap provided a rich glimpse into the life of a 10th century York Viking. He or she subsisted mainly on bread and meat, which explains the sheer size of that beast, and was riddled with parasites and parasite eggs.

This video featuring York Archaeological Trust paleoscatologist Dr. Andrew Jones talking about the coprolite beats raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens by a mile on my personal favorite things scale.

(Pardon the digression. You know I can never resist archaeological poop.)

Foundations of Coppergate's Viking streets under the museum floor. Photo by Anthony Chappel-Ross courtesy the Jorvik Viking Centre.Curators were able to rescue the large collection of artifacts unearthed in Coppergate from the floodwaters, but the mannikins of Vikings going about their daily lives and their recreated homes and businesses could not be moved. They stewed in the murky water that filled the first floor of the museum until it receded. The damage to the exhibits and the facilities was extensive.

New recreation of Viking latrine being flushed. Photo by Anthony Chappel-Ross courtesy the Jorvik Viking Centre.Insurance payments and copious fundraising allowed the Jorvik Centre to rebuild and expand, improving some of the tableaux, adding new stinks to the beloved smell-o-vision feature of the recreations, and creating a new gallery that will allow the museum to securely host important loans from other institutions. After 16 months and £4.3 million ($5,380,000), the newly renovated Jorvik Viking Centre reopened to the public on April 8th.

York Helmet. Photo courtesy the York Archaeological Trust.One of the centerpieces of the grand reopening is the Coppergate or York Helmet, an 8th century Anglo-Saxon helmet that was found in a wood-lined well during construction of a shopping center in 1982. The pit was near the site where the remains of Viking York were discovered that is now the Jorvik Viking Centre. Even though the helmet was damaged by the mechanical digger that found it, conservators at the British Museum were able to reconstruct it to its original condition. It is one of only three intact Anglian helmets ever discovered in Britain.

The York Helmet’s permanent home is the Yorkshire Museum. It will be on display at the Jorvik Centre for four weeks in honor of the reopening.

“Although itself not strictly Viking, it is likely that it was appropriated and used by one of the Viking settlers into the late ninth century. It is a prestigious piece of armour, so it could have been buried in its wood-lined pit by the new owner to hide it, but for some reason, was never reclaimed, and remained underground until the very last excavations of the Coppergate dig in 1982,” comments director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, Sarah Maltby. “We are looking forward to bringing the helmet back in Coppergate — it is a real treat for those visiting during our first month of re-opening that they will see it in almost exactly the same spot as it was unearthed.”

Bedale Hoard after conservation. Photo courtesy the Yorkshire Museum.After this brief visit to its old stomping grounds, the helmet will return to the Yorkshire Museum for a new exhibition Viking: Rediscover the Legend. A collaboration with the British Museum, the exhibition will bring together for the first time some of the greatest Viking and Anglo-Saxon archaeological treasures ever discovered, including the Bedale Hoard, the Vale of York Hoard, the Gilling Sword and the Lewis Chessmen. It opens at the Yorkshire Museum on May 19th and runs through November 5th before touring the country, stopping at the University of Nottingham, The Atkinson, Southport, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Norwich Castle Museum.

Jorvik Viking Centre's new boat recreation. Photo by Anthony Chappel-Ross courtesy the Jorvik Viking Centre. Blacksmith recreation at the Jorvik Viking Centre. Photo by Anthony Chappel-Ross courtesy the Jorvik Viking Centre.


5 thoughts on “Jorvik Viking Centre reopens 16 months after flood

  1. In case you Poor Souls are trying to decipher what is written on those golden brass ‘bands’ on the helmet, do worry no more:

    The picture is obviously mirror-inverted. Note also that ‘Jesus’ is rendered two times in Greek, not Latin, but the first reference is in fact Latin. Mirrored, it would read:

    ‘IN NOMINE : D(omi)NI : NOSTRI : IH(s)V : S(an)C(tu)S : SP(iritu)S : D(e)I : ET : OMNIBVS : DECEMVS : AMEN: OSHERE : XPI – or: ‘In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ (and) the holy Spirit of God, and to all we spangle: Amen, to (Oshere) and to X(h)ri(stos)’.

    PS: Should you have further information on ‘Oshere’, i.e. if he is the helmet bearer himself, or his worldly overlord, do post it right here – :hattip:

  2. Mid Seaxum ic wæs and mid Sweordwerum – I was among the Saxons and the Suardones.

    The name ‘Os(w)ere‘, so to speak, renders as ‘God’s Man’ with ‘os’ as an ancient concept of ‘god’: Cf. Tiwaz, Ziu, ᛏ, Tyr, Tiu, Deus, Zeus.

    Tyr is a one-handed god‘ written in Old Norwegian and Old Icelandic: Týr er æinendr ása -vs.- Týr er einhendr áss. Also, cf. ‘Asgard’ as the realm of the Æsir gods – :hattip:

  3. (Now, having watched the turd video) 俳句
    Sturdy turd Haikus,
    Parasitic nematodes,
    Lindworms on helmets.

    Happy Easter! 😮

  4. I saw a floater nearly twice that size at a rest stop on I-95 in North Carolina in the ’90s. That’s BBQ country where the men are men and pulled pork sandwiches produce giants. There were men standing around the stall gazing at it in shock and amazement, openly wondering how the man who produced it managed to walk back to his vehicle and drive away?

    I can’t blame the locals for living on a diet of pulled pork sandwiches. Eastern NC BBQ is the best on the planet.

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