England Europe Travel Diary

The Viking Invasion of York!

It was the year 866AD. The Vikings sailed from the Scandinavian region under the leadership of Ivan the Boneless, arrived and captured Northumbria Eoforwic.

They didn’t like the name, so they renamed it to a Viking name Jorvik.

Vikings in York - Amy McPherson
The Vikings came, and conquered.

Today, this city is known as York (derived from its last Viking name).

The viking history of York

With its Tudor housing, Roman city walls and a distinctly Church of England church – the York Minster, York will always have a wild spot for Vikings, and for one week a year, the city turns back 1150 years to celebrate all things Viking.

20162002UK-York (63)

And it was the Vikings that originally lured us to York.

A couple of months ago, York and surrounding regions were under meters of floods that damaged businesses and private residences. As the region began to recover, Visit England is urging everyone to #lovethenorth, and to come and visit the north to help the recovery of the economy.

So, we looked up York, came across information about the Viking festival and decided to join the pillaging hoards.

York Viking Festival - Amy McPherson
Why are the Vikings crossing the road? ;-)

Attending the Jorvik Viking Festival!

The Jorvik Viking Festival is said to be Europe’s largest Viking festival, with markets, demonstrations, parades and Viking events such as strong man contests and best beard competitions, the entire Viking-ness is taken seriously and is probably the most exciting festival I’ve been to in England!

Just a day at the Viking camp in York.
Just a day at the Viking camp in York.

What is astonishing is that when a group of Viking warriors, armed with their shields and spears crosses the road to get their morning coffee, no one (besides those visitors like us) bats an eye lid!

It’s like the most normal thing to have a Viking sipping Cafe Latte while they prepare for the battle ahead, as if everyone in York has a set of Viking costumes anyway which they occasionally wear out to do their grocery shopping at Sainsbury’s….

Viking 1: "So... what are you doing later today?" Viking 2: "Dunno. Might go buy myself a new cape at H&M."
Viking 1: “So… what are you doing later today?”
Viking 2: “Dunno. Might go buy myself a new cape at Primark.”

And we are not talking about make shift costumes like the bed sheets we wear to Toga parties. We are talking about proper cloth-made, fur-lined Viking outfits authentic enough to be displayed in museums!

Viking warriors line up outside York Minster, getting ready to parade.
Viking warriors line up outside York Minster, getting ready to parade.

With their colours and banners, Vikings young and old marched through York’s streets, chanting and shouting making claims to their heritage.

I know it’s all fake, and all about playing dress ups, but festivals like these truly get you into the spirit of history, and make a community come together to celebrate together.

Vikings marching - Amy McPherson

The festival is organised by Jorvik Viking Centre, a museum built on the site of a buried Viking village discovered in 1979.

Unfortunately the underground museum was so damaged during the recent floods that it is currently closed until further notice, however, visiting York during the viking festival is like visiting a living Viking village!
Put it in your diary for next year: Jorvik Viking Festival

Share your thoughts below!