For fans of the History channel’s Vikings (BT TV channel 327/379 HD on Tuesdays at 9pm), did you know the small screen isn’t the only place to get your fix of the ferocious warriors?
For true afficionados, who want more than just the on-screen adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok and his fierce band of brothers, there’s plenty of real Viking history dotted around the British Isles.
Here are some of the places you can find out what life in the Viking era was really like:
1. Jorvik Viking Centre, York
Between 1979 and 1981, archaeologists found around 40,000 well-preserved Viking items and the remains of their city on the site, which is now home to the Jorvik Viking Centre. The remains included timber buildings, wells, tools, human and animal remains and textiles, and the centre features a reconstruction of a Viking city as it would have looked in approximately 975 AD, with animatronic Vikings, the smells and sights of 8th Century Britain, and a ride through the daily life of Viking Europe. Find Viking pottery pieces, among other items, at the centre’s Jorvik Artefact Gallery too.
2. Lindisfarne, Northumberland
Early Vikings landed on Lindisfarne in 793 AD, and although it’s thought there had been earlier raids on the British Isles, 793 AD is usually the date given for the start of the Viking era in Britain. The Viking warriors ransacked the Holy Island’s monastery Lindisfarne Priory, stole treasures and murdered residents. The attack was repeated in 875 AD, leading the monks to abandon the site, and only return to the Holy Island during the 11th Century. Today, the Priory site, managed by English Heritage, includes a museum. But if you plan to visit the site of the Viking raids, remember that the island is only accessible from the mainland twice daily during low tide.
3. Isle of Man
The Isle of Man has a significant Viking heritage – you can explore Viking castles and see recreated Viking homesteads and monuments as well as archaeological sites. They include Peel Castle – the fort of Magnus Barefoot, 11th Century Viking King of Mann; House of Manannan – there are reconstructions, characters, sights and smells to demonstrate how Viking and Celtic cultures merged, and you can see the Viking longship Odin’s Raven and Viking artefacts; Manx Museum – displays include hoards of silver and gold in the Viking Gallery; Balladoole – the hilltop site of a Viking boat burial from 900 AD, and The Braaid – view the remains of a Celtic and Viking farm settlement, which now consist of the stone circle outline of a Celtic roundhouse and the foundations of two Viking longhouses.
4. Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
The Museum is home to the Furness Hoard, a huge collection of Viking and Anglo-Saxon coins and artefacts discovered in 2011. The Hoard is the largest collection of Viking treasure ever found in the area, consisting of 92 silver coins and many ingots and arm-rings. In addition, the museum boasts a number of other Viking artefacts including swords and weights, and offers visitors the chance to try on helmet and cloak replicas.
5. Yorkshire Museum, York
Home to one of the most important Viking discoveries ever made in Britain, the Vale of York Viking Hoard, Yorkshire Museum brings together a number of Viking and Anglo-Saxon artefacts to illustrate the wealth and strength of Viking Britain. The Hoard was discovered in North Yorkshire in 2007 by metal-detectorists. Contained within a gilded silver cup were 617 coins, as well as 67 silver and gold artefacts, including a rare gold arm-ring. The museum also has other Viking artefacts including the Gilling Sword and the Coppergate Helmet.
Vikings airs on History on Tuesdays at 9pm.
History is on BT TV channel 327/379 HD. Catch up on the series so far on the BT Player >