York Minster embraces its Norse heritage for Viking Festival

(Photo: Jorvik Viking Centre)

The Vikings are often remembered as a force of brutality and godlessness, but York Minster has its roots in a friendlier relationship with the Scandinavian invaders.

The story of York Minster's beginnings will be told through its partnership with the 2014 Jorvik Viking Festival, when it will host Viking-themed family events from 18 to 20 February.

Young visitors will learn how the cathedral came to be in its present location thanks to a generous Viking benefactor, and find out about the Minster in a period when native inhabitants lived side by side with Viking settlers.

The events include shield making workshops and Viking Tales in the Children's Chapel each day.

"The land on which York Minster now stands was gifted to the Chapter of York by the Viking Jarl Ulph in the 11th century," explains Kate Whitworth, Learning Manager for York Minster.

"The Viking lord marked the transfer of ownership by gifting an ornately carved elephant's tusk – the Horn of Ulph – which is now 1,000 years old and on public display in the 'Revealing York Minster' in the Undercroft attraction, beneath the Minster.

"In fact, York provided a unique melting pot for Norse and Christian beliefs, with old Scandinavian traditions gradually replaced by Christian ones during the 200 years of Viking settlement – from coins minted with St Peter's name and Thor's hammer, to burial traditions which were uncovered during archaeological digs within the Minster walls."

York Minster will also be teaming up with the neighbouring St William's College to host one of the highlights of the Jorvik Viking Festival, the Ultimate Viking Banquet on the evening of 21 February.

Following welcome drinks and a special choral performance in the Quire of York Minster, diners will then be escorted by their Viking hosts over to St William's College for a superb three course meal.

For more details about the Jorvik Viking Festival, visit www.jorvik-viking-festival.co.uk