After a period of isolated raids and exploration, in the mid-ninth century, the Vikings invaded and settled across the British Isles in ever greater numbers. York, in the north of England, soon became a center and symbol of their new power. 

The JORVIK Viking Centre, which is located in the medieval heart of this ancient city, tells the story of this pivotal era in Norse and British history.

At the JORVIK Viking Centre, visitors can explore the rich Viking heritage of York through immersive displays, including realistic animatronics and meticulously recreated Viking-era streets. Photo: Courtesy of JORVIK Viking Centre

What is it? 

The JORVIK Viking Centre is a living history site that takes its visitors on a compelling exploration of the city's Viking past. 

Visitors can look forward to a thrilling interactive ride and a superb presentation of some of the most important Norse-related finds in Britain. 

What can you tell us about its history? 

Though the surrounding area is thought to have been first settled by Mesolithic people around 7000 BCE, the Romans were the ones to officially found the city of York in 71 CE. 

However, the city only truly rose to prominence and infamy when the Vikings took control in the ninth century. 

Known by the Norse as Jorvik, the city soon became a thriving trading center and a powerful seat of power for the invading forces to dominate the lands of Northumbria. 

Over the course of the next 100 years, it would be held by a number of famous Viking leaders, including Ivar the Boneless, Halfdan Ragnarsson, and Guthred of Cumberland.

The first period of Scandinavian rule lasted from 866 to 901 – during the era of the Great Heathen Army – before Æthelwold, son of King Æthelred of Wessex, temporarily regained control for the English. 

A long power struggle followed, with the city changing hands between the Norse and Anglo-Saxons on no fewer than five occasions. 

In 954, however, the Anglo-Saxon forces of Eadred slew Norse leader Eric Bloodaxe at the Battle of Stainmore, the Earldom of York was established, and the Vikings lost their grip on the city for good. 

The town continued to thrive in the Vikings' absence, however, remaining an important city throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. 

It has also been a significant religious site for more than a millennium, with the spectacular cathedral York Minster, a breathtaking sight and a major tourist attraction even today.

Between 1976 and 1981, a series of excavations on the site of an old factory finally uncovered the precious remains of the city's Viking past. 

In addition to pottery, metalwork, and bones, the wet clay and lack of oxygen below ground had also left wood, leather, textiles, and plant and animal remains beautifully preserved. 

The JORVIK Viking Centre first opened its doors in 1984 with the goal of both displaying some of the 40,000 Viking artifacts from the digs and also exploring the city's rich Viking history through a series of exhibitions and events. 

The JORVIK Viking Centre is not only a museum but an educational journey into the past, where visitors can experience the sights, sounds, and even smells of a Viking settlement in the heart of York. Photo: Courtesy of JORVIK Viking Centre

What will I find here? 

The JORVIK Viking Center is located in Coppergate, a charming medieval street in the center of York.

The main attraction is an interactive ride through the recreation of a Viking street from 975 CE, complete with all the authentic sights, sounds, and even smells of the era.

After the ride itself, you can also enjoy a gallery presenting some of the most important Viking-related finds in the UK, including priceless pieces from the famous Vale of York Hoard, some virtually fully intact Norse shoes, and the notorious Lloyds Bank coprolite, a seven-inch fossilized Viking excrement.

To date, the museum has seen 20 million visitors from all around the world and won a string of local and international awards. 

The center also hosts a series of events throughout the year, though the highlight of the calendar is unquestionably the JORVIK Viking Festival, held in mid-February. 

The recreated street at the Centre immerses visitors in the raw reality of Viking life, complete with twitching eels, outdoor toilets, and the true aromas of a tenth-century environment. Photo: Courtesy of JORVIK Viking Centre

Tell me one thing I can find here and nowhere else in the world 

Disgusting sights and smells: the JORVIK Viking Centre is proud of its "yucky moments," from twitching eels and outdoor toilets to the authentic aromas of a hygiene-poor tenth-century street. Always a big hit with the kids. 

Attracting over 20 million global visitors and numerous awards, the museum also hosts various events, with the JORVIK Viking Festival in mid-February being the annual highlight. Photo: Courtesy of JORVIK Viking Centre

How much does it cost, and how do I get there? 

Address: JORVIK Viking Center, 19 Coppergate, York YO1 9WT, United Kingdom
Admission: GBP 15, discounted GBP 12.50, children GBP 10.50. Tickets allow free admission for 12 months
Open: Daily, summer 10 am - 5 pm, winter 10 am - 4 pm
Access: The museum is located in the heart of York, easily accessed on foot from the train station or any central car park. 

We get to provide readers with original coverage thanks to our loyal supporters. Do you enjoy our work? You can become a PATRON here or via our Patreon page. You'll get access to exclusive content and early access.

Do you have a tip that you would like to share with The Viking Herald?
Feel free to reach out to discuss potential stories that may be in the public interest. You can reach us via email at hello@thevikingherald.com with the understanding that the information you provide might be used in our reporting and stories.