Multicultural York: The Vikings

Guthrun the weaver's story

My name is Guthrun. I live in Jorvik, in Cupr-gade (now called Coppergate) which means the street of the cup makers. My husband makes the wooden cups and bowls that give the street its name.

Where does the family come from?

My husbandís family came from Denmark. His grandfather came in the great army of Halfdan the Dane who conquered this city. He settled near here, just outside the crumbling walls of the old Roman city and married a local woman. My husbandís father was the first to be well-known for his skill in making wooden cups and bowls.


What work do they do?

We sell our cups and bowls for food, although we grow some too, and my husband hunts and fishes. As for me, there is no finer weaver in Jorvik. I learned my skills from my mother and grandmother. Our family was here long before the Vikings came. 

How do children learn skills?

I teach my daughter how to weave and make garments and blankets using bone and iron needles. I leave her to do the fine work Ė my eyes are not so good these days. Her grandmother is teaching her to make socks in the old Scandinavian way with just one needle. Soon she will be more skilled than I!

Discussion questions:

  • How does this Viking family get its food?
  • How many people work in the household?
  • Is the family Anglo-Saxon or Viking or something different?
  • Why do you think it might have been important to have a skill in Viking York?

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

Scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic. 

Document icon Learning article provided by: Yorkshire Museum and Gardens |  York Archaeological Trust |  The British Museum | 
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