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A museum that re-creates the Viking city of Jorvik from over a millenium ago

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River Front
Viking Craftsmen
Dress as a Viking
Time Tunnel
Viking Ghosts
When a sweet factory in the centre of York was demolished in the 70s, the site was scheduled to become a shopping centre. But before construction began, the York Archaeological Trust conducted a large-scale excavation - and rather than finding an old stash of jelly babies, they uncovered something quite different. It turns out that the factory was standing on top of one of the most significant collections of Viking remains ever to be found.
8 tonnes of sieved soil later, the full extent of the find was revealed. An astonishing 40,000 pieces were recovered, including pottery, metalwork, tools, and clothing. Artefacts such as wood and textiles aren't usually recovered from similar digs, but many of these items were found in unusually good condition. This was due to the damp, spongy layers of earth at the site, which helped to preserve such items as leather, plants, and animals remains. They even found a Viking toilet - and its contents!
With the excavation being an unprecedented success, the Archaeological Trust decided to make the most of it, and in 1984, they opened the Jorvik Viking Museum, on the very site of the dig. Jorvik is the Viking name for York, and the museum reconstructs the town as it was in the past. Visitors can walk down a street from 975AD, investigating houses, markets, pigsties, and latrines. Watch out though, because the museum has even managed to recruit some real Vikings!
There is also a large collection of thousand-year-old artefacts to view, along with detailed sculptures of people from that age. These models are made from actual Viking skeletons, using lasers to make a detailed scan of each skull. The scans are then fed into a computer, which virtually reconstructs what the person probably looked like. From this information, skilled sculptors can create extraordinarily lifelike figures.
A morbid yet fascinating Viking skeleton is also on display. It shows sign of battle scars and disease giving a vivid insight in to how hard life was in those times!
In the 25 years since its inception, the Jorvik Viking Museum has been a fantastic success, welcoming more than 14 million visitors through its doors. It has been praised for its interactive approach - you really do get a sense of what life was like a thousand years ago. And after a five-million-pound restoration project in 2001, it will be one of York major attractions for a long time to come.
Visitor Information
The Jorvik Museum is open daily 10am - 5pm (4pm Nov to Mar). Entry costs around £9. Tel: 01904 543403

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