Video and pix: Inside the all-new Jorvik Viking Centre

A family play a board game in the new Jorvik Viking Centre. Photographs: Richard McDougall
6 Apr 2017 @ 1.45 pm
| Entertainment, History

The new-look Jorvik Viking Centre was revealed today (Thursday) – after the world-famous attraction completed a £4 million makeover.

Closed since December 27, 2015, when the York floods inundated the Coppergate building, Jorvik has emerged brighter and fresher ready for its public reopening on Saturday (April 8).

Demand for tickets to see the update centre is high with pre-booked tickets for the opening weekend sold out. But there will be tickets available to purchase on the door.

For the Easter holidays it is open from 10am, with a last admission at 6.30pm.

With Viking-themed performances and activities in the Coppergate Centre, there will be something to entertain visitors as they wait in the queue.

A Viking cobber gets to work

Three visitor experiences

One of the new time capsules near the Viking riverside

The new Jorvik is set out in three distinct sections which tell the story of Viking life in York, as well as the archaeology which uncovered it.

Part one: Discover Coppergate

The first gallery has large photo and video projections

A new improved version of the familiar glass floor is back, showing the preserved Viking-age timbers and the excavation.

But this is a much-more interactive space than before.

Photos and video of the original dig in the late 1970s and early Eighties is projected on to the walls.

The glass floor reveals history

This acts as an introductory ‘show’ where the impact of the Coppergate dig is explored through the stories of those who worked there.

Children (and their parents, TBH) will love the interactive screens where you can discover gems hidden underground, clean them and generally act as a virtual Indiana Jones.

Jorvik Viking Centre details

Coppergate Centre, York

April–October: 10am-5pm (last admission); November–March: 10am-4pm (last admission)

Adult £10.25; Child (5-16) £7.25; family of four £30.95

Jorvik website

Part two: Experience Coppergate

The boats that great you as you arrive. The people on the boat are the new ‘live Vikings’ now added to the attraction

This is the most famous part of Jorvik – where you glide above the reconstructed Viking city of York c960AD.

Visitors will spend more time than ever before exploring the city aboard the time capsules – around 16 minutes, compared to 13 minutes previously.

The view from a time capsule
Saga telling come to life

The ‘time capsules’ themselves have been updated with touch screens displaying more information to enhance the tour.

There are 31 animatronic characters to meet, 22 of them new, and more of them women. They include

  • a hunter and his dog heading back into the city after a day’s hunt
  • a tattooed blacksmith and his apprentice son
  • a woman working at her loom
  • and a saga teller, telling stories of Norse legends by the fire in his house.

And good news. The man on the loo is back.

Return of the bog man

The animatronics is much-more lifelike than before. Look out for the 12 animatronic animals too: we saw chickens, piglets and a pet cat.

It’s a more ethnically-diverse society too.

One of the traders hails from the Middle East, after new techniques discovered that one of the Jorvik skeletons most likely originated from that area.

People, sounds and smells
For the first time, the recreation features live Vikings.

Members of the interpretation team will play the part of a trader bringing goods to sell in Jorvik, and you may overhear them using authentic languages from the time.

Both the sounds and the smells of Jorvik have been upgraded too.

Previously visitors enjoyed the whiff of Viking cooking, fishing and the lovely cesspit. New aromas include the native forests of Yorkshire and the damp wharf of the River Foss.

Part three: Explore Coppergate

One of our forebears

After leaving the time capsules, you arrive at the artefacts gallery.

This showcases what was unearthed during the Coppergate Dig, including skeletons of residents from 1,000 years ago.

You can also see the evidence that enabled York Archaeological Trust’s experts to piece together the recreation of Jorvik Viking Centre.

Touch-screen displays enable visitors to explore skeletal remains and the music of the period, accessing information gleaned by over 30 years of expert analysis of the dig.

And there are also exhibits from the British Museum’s Viking collection to add a more rounded view of this era of history.