Jorvik Viking Centre

Item

Title
Jorvik Viking Centre
Description
The Jorvik Viking Centre is a museum and visitor attraction which depicts life in Viking-age York. Based on the rich archaeological material recovered from the Coppergate excavations between 1976 and 1981, the current iteration of the Centre is divided into three parts: pre-show, which tells the story of the excavations complete with a recreation of the dig site; the ride, where visitors are taken back in time to the Viking street of Coppergate, a full-scale replica based on the archaeological remains of the street, with plants, animals, and animatronic humans; and finally the artefact gallery, which houses many of the personal objects and physical remains of the people who lived in 10th-century Coppergate.

Jorvik 1 opened in 1984, following three years of development with the expert contributions of academics and craftspeople. The original Time Cars took visitors back in time past models of First World War soldiers and Georgian ladies, before finally arriving in 948AD to see the houses and workshops of characters including Thorfast the bone carver and Svein the leatherworker.

In 2001, continued academic research into Coppergate and Viking York more generally led to the redevelopment of the Centre into Jorvik 2. This time, visitors were transported back in a time machine to 866AD, the year of the Viking invasion of York, and then travelled forward in the Time Cars to see Coppergate as it was in 975AD. The second iteration of Jorvik marked the first use of animatronics, enabling visitors to see and hear the residents going about their daily lives. Following an introduction to the excavations themselves, the Artefact Gallery showed real objects displayed in context in reconstructed houses and workshops. A later version of the Gallery in 2006 included four holograms of Coppergate residents who gave visitors their accounts of life in the town.

Jorvik 3 opened in 2010 and was the first version of the Centre to include pre-show, a glass-floored gallery with a recreation of the original excavation underfoot. Other new additions included seven Old Norse-speaking animatronics, voiced by postgraduate students from the University of York, and an amber worker’s house.

In December 2015, a catastrophic flood left the underground Centre in up to a metre of river water. Although Collections staff were able to save the artefacts from the gallery, much of the rest of the Centre was severely damaged and a huge rebuilding project was necessary. Two years later, in April 2017, Jorvik 4 showcased a reimagined interpretation of 10th-century Coppergate complete with additional characters and languages to reflect the extensive trade networks of Viking York, and a renewed focus on the environmental evidence from the excavation informing the plants and animals on the set. The new Artefact Gallery displayed hundreds of objects, including high-profile loans from the British Museum, and temporary loans including the Silverdale Hoard. In 2022 the Centre welcomed its 20 millionth visitor.
Date
14 April 1984 (opening day of Jorvik 1)
7 April 2001 (opening day of Jorvik 2)
13 February 2010 (opening day of Jorvik 3)
27 December 2015 (first day of closure due to flood)
8 April 2017 (opening day of Jorvik 4)

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