For the first time in hundreds of years, the Old Norse language is being spoken in York, England once more. Thanks to researchers and students at University of York, the animatronic Vikings at the JORVIK Viking Centre are now speaking their actual, native tongue. These animatronics tell the tale of the Scandanavian warriors who harassed the city of York for many years, before conquering and settling it. They tell stories, talk about their day-to-day lives, and talk about the many artifacts present in the JORVIK Viking Centre.
The JORVIK Viking Centre was founded in 1984 after the Coppergate Excavations uncovered thousands of Viking artifacts and a Viking town beneath the English city of York. Originally captured in 866 A.D, the Viking city beneath what is now York is over 1,000 years old. It was captured a second time, in 1066, during the Norman invasion.
The city of York itself has a very colorful history, even beyond its former Viking inhabitants. Founded by Mesolithic people in around 8000 BC, York has been invaded by possibly every culture that has passed through the British Isles. It’s archaeological record is stunning and complete, and the JORVIK Viking Centre is the center of it all.
The Centre was damaged by flooding in 2015, and these updates to the animatronics are a part of the current restoration effort. The University of York is one of the few places in the world that offers a program in the Old Norse language. Students and professors were hired to voice act for the animatronics in this educational and exciting collaboration. And they aren’t just speaking Old Norse, either.
“In AD960, Jorvik was an ethnically-diverse city with a population of 15,000; so as well as old Norse, visitors will hear animatronics speak Old English, Ancient Arabic, Old Irish and Middle Welsh,” said Sarah Maltby, Director of Attractions for JORVIK Viking Centre.
Want to visit? You can get a year’s worth of admission for about $25 when you buy a single day’s ticket. Check out their website for more information about different tours and their seasonal schedule.