Jorvik Viking Festival


Over the recent half-term we visited the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York.  It was a chilly, but thankfully clear day and we booked the children (Nin, Ted and John’s niece and nephew) onto a sword-fighting workshop and for us all to visit the Jorvik centre (John’s parents came too) whilst we were there.
The sword fighting workshop took place at the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall – certainly not a Viking location, but a good space and interesting all the same.  I’d not visited there before and plan to go back when we are studying a period of history more in keeping with the place.
It was rather dark in there so some of the photos are rather grainy and I’ve had to be a bit careful on the photo front because of unknown children, so have tried to keep ‘clear(ish)’ faces to my own (extended) family – which meant it was rather challenging to take pics!
Everyone really enjoyed the sword-fighting workshop.  I thought that the man leading it was really good and the children were really enthused by him, certainly something I’d recommend for future festivals if you get the opportunity to go.
There were various activities organised across the city and we couldn’t visit all of them (some of them were organised on different days than the one we could attend and in future years I hope we’re able to go for the finale of the festival) but there was a re-enactment camp in Coppergate outside the Jorvik Centre (and one big tip for the Centre is to book in advance!)
The children had a few games of Kubb (sadly no photos of this, but they’ve since played in at the home-ed co-op we’re members of) and posed for a photo with helmets and weapons (at the beginning of the post).
For me, this man gets my biggest thumbs up of the day – he was great!  Really enthusiastic and a mine of interesting information.  He had a table-top full of interesting things for the children to hold and ask questions about and I felt that he really brought the objects to life with his descriptions of how they were used and what life might be like for the children had they lived as Vikings – he also rather embarrassed a teenage girl behind us when, upon finding she was 13, asked whether she could cook, weave, sew, embroider, etc and upon finding she wasn’t keen on these things, asked about her dowry.  He then explained something of marriage and what life might be like for young women, but that as a Viking she actually had quite a bit of freedom and respect in her own right and, if she married him, a chance of outliving him and inheriting rather well, but he’d need some convincing of a decent dowry to outweigh her lack of skills.  Nin proudly told him that she could bake bread and could weave a bit and sew and his reply was that she’d better get practising, but already she was sounding like a better bet (certainly not as expensive on the dowry front 😉 )  He also upbraided the boys for wearing blue (a ‘feminine’ colour) and that really I shouldn’t expect Erk  to knead bread as that was ‘women’s work’.
The quern stone below is not strictly accurate, but he said this was easier for ‘modern’ children to use and get an idea from.  The children all had a go at using it and Nin and A (John’s niece) were told that they (as daughters) would be expected to use it for hours to get the flour to make bread.
I could’ve stayed and listened to him for longer, but we were booked into the Jorvik Centre for a particular time, so had to go.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the Jorvik Centre and I wasn’t sure on the photo policy (and, again, it’s dark) so photos were a bit of an issue.  I had a quick chat with one lady who showed me how to start naalbinding – and I will be following up on this as it is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  A young woman also chatted with Nin and A about some of the artefacts on display in the initial area.
Erk had quite a chat with a young man (also dressed up) about various things (we wandered off) including life as a young Viking man and the various expectations that there might be of him at 16 (plus I think they had a general chat as well, the rest of us wandered off and he caught up).
Again, I’d recommend the Jorvik Centre for a visit – the children really enjoyed the guided ‘ride’ through Coppergate as it might’ve looked in Viking times and the various talking displays of trades and other activities available.
It was starting to get rather late in the day after the Centre and so, very tired, we headed home.  We’ll certainly look to be visiting the festival again next year and in the meantime, I’m looking at organising some home ed workshops at the Jorvik Centre and Dig – and hopefully there’s the Yorkshire Medieval Festival to look forward to in the summer.

5 thoughts on “Jorvik Viking Festival

  1. Science Viking says:

    Hi, I’m Bjarni Thorvaldrson, the Viking in red that you said such nice things about. It’s lovely to know that you appreciated my efforts and enjoyed finding out about the less violent side of Viking life. Thanks very much for your kind words.PS. I can be seen in schools, museums and historical events around the country, and wherever anyone will book me 🙂


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