The first Vikings in York were originally from Denmark: In 866 Vikings led by Ivar the Boneless came to York in search of plunder. Vikings of other origins – mainly Norway – came to York up to the 11th century.
Why did they stay there? The Vikings established a peaceful community based on agriculture and trade. Archaeologists found goods from as far away as Byzantium in York! But this period didn‘t last long...
In 954 Eric Bloodaxe was defeated by Eadred, King of Wessex, and in 1066 the Vikings were demolished in the Battle of Stamford Bridge, just 8 miles from York.
The ”Viking way of life“ The Vikings and the Angles of northern England were ethnically very close: – Only little differences in physical appearance, language and cultural features. Distinction through details of dress, ornament, hair style, speech and mannerisms. Very lively town (especially the part at the river) – → cargo ships arrived there regularly. – → traders as well as craftsmen expected new goods to arrive.
The ”Viking way of life“ Viking houses consisted of timber. – → Roofs made of reed or straw. – → Some houses had levels below the ground outside. York was also a smelly place: – → people lived close together, animals walked around freely, fish and meat were cooked or dried outside, many people made leather or worked as blacksmiths.
The “Viking way of life” Archaeological evidence: Vikings had a good diet. ● → Travels to the sea to gather shells and fish and bring them back to York. ● → Meat from the animals habitant there. ● → Also vegetables were available and corn would be grown on the fertile grounds around York.
Ancient buildings in York At Coppergate excavations have revealed the typical Viking-Age house: at least 7m long and about 4.5m wide. The way the houses were built was not typical Scandinavian: Posts were set into the ground at short intervals to support a thatched (reed or straw) roof. The walls were made by wattling withies horizontally in and out of stakes between the posts. Inside the houses was a large central fireplace. While simple houses had only one large room, richer houses had several small rooms to sleep in. The floor simply was earth and everything that landed on the floor was trampled in.
Ancient buildings in York From the 960s and 970s the Vikings started building two- storey houses. The walls were made from planks of oak. This was also the time when they started building the houses in two ranks along the street at Coppergate.
Viking words in today’s English – The Vikings have a reputation for being more men of deeds than words, but the links between England and Scandinavia during the Viking Age (and later) made a lasting impression on the English language.a lasting impression on the English language. – In today’s English there are still many words that are of Viking heritage. – Try to speak English without using words of Viking origin for more than two minutes -> almost impossible! – Examples: anger, beach, build, egg, fast, hail, jam, kidney, kidnap, scarf, scream, shiver, smuggle, skill, talk, Thursday (Thor!), ugly, until, wake, welcome, window
Viking words in today‘s English – When the Vikings came to Britain, they could communicate with their Anglo-Saxon “relatives“ they all spoke Germanic languages (Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, German and Norse/Norwegian common linguistic background, e.g. “welcome“: Icelandic “velkommen“, Swedish “välkommen“, Danish “velcommen“, German “Willkommen“. Today‘s Icelandic is still an authentic Viking language, almost without any foreign words, e.g. the word for advertising would be – directly translated- “illumination of eyes“ – Especially in Yorkshire dialect there are many hints of the Viking languages, as there are also many Viking place names. l
Viking words in today’s English Many place names in Britain show Viking heritage, e.g. the ending “by” as in Selby or Whitby. In Yorkshire there are 210 “-by” place names! Generally, these place were the first settlegrounds for the Vikings. “Gate” is used in many streets names and can be derived from the Viking word “gata” = street: –Castlegate, Coppergate, Ousegate, Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate
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