This Wednesday, October 18, the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York is hosting a seminar titled The York-Dublin Axis Reconsidered – 21st-century approaches to Viking Towns.

Led by Dr. Stephen Harrison from the University of Glasgow and Dr. Steve Ashby from the University of York, the discussion centers on the joint significance of York and Dublin as the primary towns in the Viking West.

The seminar is open to the public and free of charge. Furthermore, it forms part of an overarching project, The York-Dublin Axis Revisited, funded by the UK-wide Arts and Humanities Research Council.

It brings together scholars and heritage professionals with shared interests in this subject and Drs. Harrison and Ashby will present the evolving perceptions of their own Viking legacy. 

Dublin, intimately linked to York during the Viking era, shares the spotlight in "The York-Dublin Axis Reconsidered" initiative, where the key focus is to re-establish communication and collaboration between these historic cities. Photo: 21 Aerials / Shutterstock

United by Viking rule 

The medieval histories of York and Dublin share similar traits, with the city's rulers often being related, if not the same people.

Both cities are characterized by rich archaeological deposits, initially excavated in collaboration with each other.

They also possess relatively extensive documentary records and face similar challenges in managing and interpreting these resources.

Academic and popular perceptions of their Viking heritage have been transformed since the 1980s and continue to adapt and change today.

York and Dublin are by far the best-documented and best-excavated urban centers in this Western region of the Viking world, making them of exceptional international importance.

Contemporary sources have been relatively well-studied, and this is due to half a century of urban excavations that have produced exceptional evidence.

These are vital resources for archaeologists and heritage professionals, but communication and collaboration between them and between the two modern cities have been limited.

The lack of contact between contemporary professionals is particularly acute, especially given that Viking York and Dublin were once very close, sharing a ruling dynasty for a significant period of the ninth and tenth centuries.

However, the impact of this political link on the social and economic development of the two towns is under-researched and largely unrecognized by the public. 

York's transformation from Eoforwic to Jorvik and, finally, to York serves as a straightforward testament to the city's lasting Viking heritage. Photo: David Ionut / Shutterstock

Reengaging with the past 

The York-Dublin Axis Revisited initiative, led by the University of Glasgow, aims to redress this balance by organizing a series of workshops and seminars for the exchange of information and ideas.

The last of the three workshops, "New Engagements," held in Dublin in the spring of 2022, examined the relationship between the modern cities and their Viking past.

It has given rise to a strategy document, the results to be disseminated in a range of media.

How might the new archaeological narratives for York and Dublin impact our wider understanding of Viking-age urbanism and diaspora?

By stimulating discussion between key stakeholders and knowledge-makers, the project seeks to reinvigorate the study of both Viking towns and draw fresh attention to the connections between them.

Additionally, it aims to reengage with debates on Viking-Age urbanism and lay the groundwork for future research and outreach.

Title: The York-Dublin Axis Reconsidered – 21st-century approaches to Viking Towns
Date: Wednesday, October 18
Time: 5:30 pm
Location: K/122, the Huntingdon Room, King's Manor, York
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