Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

How did the Vikings Come to York?

From the late 8th Century Viking raiders attacked the east coast of England. At first they would raid wealthy monasteries for their treasures, take people from villages to be slaves and then return home to Scandinavia.


Map of Northern Europe and North Atlantic showing Viking settlement in Scandinavia, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, the Hebrides, Shetland, the Faeroes, Iceland, southern coast of Greenland and Newfoundland (Vinland). 
Viking Settlement in the North Atlantic

Viking Invasion!

In 866 different groups of Vikings formed a great army. They fought their way through England and finally came to York. They took over the Anglo-Saxon town and decided to stay there. 


Helmet is made from a silver metal with gold coloured strips over the middle of the skull and across over the eyes.  The top half of the face is covered with metal and holes are cut for the eyes.  Metal flaps at the side protect the ears and side of the head
Replica Viking Helmet

The Vikings changed the name of the town from the Anglo-Saxon Eoforwic to 'Jorvik'. They built farms in the countryside and more Vikings came to settle there, while York became an important market for local goods and for items traded from overseas.


Stone carving picturing seven warriors brandishing axes above their heads.
Carved Stone Depicting Viking Raiders

York - A Multicultural City

A distinct Anglo-Scandinavian culture developed in York. The Vikings worshipped their own gods, but later many became Christians and married local people.


Wooden houses with  thatched roofs, built closely together.  Smoke is coming from the houses.
Jorvik Reconstruction

During the next two hundred years the Anglo-Saxon kings tried to take back the town and the leaders changed many times. The town grew as more people moved in, building new houses and streets. 


Two gold cloak pins with circles at one end, with a long thin pin attached.
Viking Cloak Pins

What is Left of Viking York?

Although many streets in York still have Viking names no buildings survive from this period. However, archaeologists have discovered exciting Viking remains and objects below the city streets. 


A large hoard of silver items, including coins, bracelets, a silver pot, other items of jewellery and silver ingots.
Viking Treasure in the Vale of York Hoard


Anglo-Saxon - People from Germany who settled in Britain from the 5th Century

Archaeologist - Someone who finds physical clues about the past 

Culture - The beliefs and knowledge a group of people share

Monasteries - Places in which very religious people live and work

Multicultural - When groups from different countries or religions come together

Raiders - Group of people who suddenly attack to steal something

Remains - What is left of something

Scandinavia - Group of northern European countries (Denmark, Norway and Sweden)