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Jorvik Viking Centre (York)

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Jorvik Viking Centre, Coppergate, York YO1 9WT. Tel: 01904 643 211. Fax: 01904 627 097. Group Bookings: 01904 543 402. Advance Bookings: 01904 543 403. E-Mail: jorvik@jvcyork.demon.co.uk

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      16.07.2010 20:24
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      Worth seeing even if you have just a passing interest in history!

      After planning a trip to York for a mid-week break whilst off work, I always intended visited the Jorvik centre being a fan of History and particularly visiting Museums. I had actually planned a whole afternoon around it having read the related literature and leaflets as I expected it too last longer. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable hour or so in the centre and somewhere I probably would recommend to all. My girlfriend wasn't too keen on going in but I think she enjoyed it!

      The Jorvik centre is based around a huge archaeological dig where over 20,000 items from the age of the Vikings were discovered and is located pretty much in the centre of the historic city.

      When you first go into the centre you walk down to a large room with an impressive glass floor. Underneath the floor is the actual remains of a small part of the Viking settlement which has been excavated. It looks nice and makes the centre unique as it is rare to find such a display. Around the rest of the room are video displays, pictures and artefacts from the dig which serve as an introduction to the age and the purpose of the site as you await the main attraction.

      The main attraction is the ride tour around York as it would have been in the Viking age when it was pretty much the centre of the country in terms of trading and thus military importance.

      The ride takes you round in pods of six people. The pods are fairly big and have speakers behind each seat with a range of languages talking you through what you are seeing. The staff only make you sit in rows with people in your group which is nice so you aren't forced into sitting with randomners. Also, the queue wasn't too big despite being behind two school trips it went down fast as there were plenty of pods.

      The ride takes around 20 minutes ish, maybe a tad more and you tour a typical settlement from the Viking era in York. Visiting the typical family, the tradesman, the market, even the outdoor toilets! The models speak and are terrifyingly life like and you can see time and effort has been made in making the centre realistic and impressive. You can even smell the various scenes from the local fishman to the outdoor loo which adds to the experience.

      When off the ride there is a room full of typical rooms and roles of Viking life with videos of actors playing roles. Its quite interesting but sadly this is the last and only room beyond the ride other than the gift shop!

      So thus my only criticism is that fact that its much shorter and less involved that I thought. Its better for school trips as they have Vikings acting out roles and conducting workshops etc but for the normal visitor it could be over in under an hour.

      Its £8.95 for adult entry so whether that's worth it is a personal choice. I still would have went in had I known the duration but its worth noting its not something that can take an entire day or even an afternoon to do!

      Also on Ciao

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      21.02.2010 22:24
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      A great attraction for those who want to ;learn more about Viking times!

      Step inside the City of York as it was back in Viking times. This is a magical experience which is suitable for all ages. Visitor's queue outside the centre and are often entertained by a costumed Viking character making conversation with the public which helps the time fly. Once inside visitor's go down a flight of steps and enter a time travel room where there is a large screen which tells the story of Viking's in York and then the floor wobbles and you are 'sent back in time!' As you exit the room you follow the corridor to the time cars which hold approximately five people and climb on board. Each car has a running commentary which tells the story of what you are about to see and can be heard in a range of languages and for adults or children. On my visit we took Grandparent's in their 50's and children aged 8 and 5, the children enjoyed listening to the story and the highlight of the trip was the Viking on the toilet! Not only are the scenes a good size and detailed for example a fishing boat with fisher men, Viking's hunting etc using props and dummies, there are also smells too which really brings Viking life to you! The car trip appeared to be over quickly, but once you had dismounted there was a walk through exhibition where Viking characters are brought to life on large screens telling of their differing experiences of this time in history. There were also cabinets filled with artefacts found in digs around the area and children can have a coin struck for £1.00 by a Viking! The gift shop at the end stocks a range of souveniers ranging from reasonably priced rubbers and pencils to more expensive jewellery.


      Top Tips:
      Tesco's day out vouchers can be used to pay for this attraction.

      It is possible to prebook and thus avoid long queing times.

      If you do choose to arrive on the day, first thing, lunch times and about an hour before the end of the day tends to be quieter.

      There is usually a special Viking Week held around February Half Term which focuses around the Coppergate Square where there is a Viking Settlement and other reenactments and activities which the Jorvik centre cordinates.

      For current entry fees and further details contact the Jorvick centre on 01904 543 402.

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      18.02.2010 23:12
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      Be prepared for the smells as you tour the ancient city of Jorvik

      This excellent museum has certainly improved over time and judging by the queue outside today is as popular as ever.
      It is situated in the old City of York on an old Viking site. The museum is based on the findings from the archaeological excavations in the area and includes a lot of the artefacts found there.
      When you first go in you are taken into a room where you go back in time via a video screen which shows you different costumes from periods in time. Then the real excitement begins as you are led to small capsules which take you on a journey around a mock up of a viking village. There are headphones for you to wear so that you can get an audio description of what is going on. There are different ones you can listen to. The children's one is brilliant as a young boy shows you around his village. There is lots to see and smell! My daughter always comments on how awful the smell is, but I suppose this is as authentic as it could be.
      When you leave the capsules you go into a room with Vikings in it (actors of course!) and they give you lots of information about what it would have been like to live in Jorvik at that time. You can even try on some of the clothes and make a viking coin to take away.
      After that room is a room full of artefacts including the children's favourite - viking poo!
      This museum is great for spending a few hours in and you and your family will learn lots about Viking times.
      To avoid the queues, you can book online. When I last visited, there was also the option to give gift aid and then your ticket is valid for returning for a year.

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        18.12.2009 12:54
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        A must-see in York.

        When I stayed for a few nights in York several months ago, there was nothing that would have stopped me going to this renowned centre. I'd read several reviews on here, and was really excited about it. And it didn't disappoint.

        As you go in, you sit down and watch a brief film, and then go and sit in cars, much like for a rollercoaster. Of course, you move around a fair bit slower though! As you go round the track, you can see brilliant exhibits of Jorvik (as it was then known) and its citizens in everyday life. The commentary, which is available in English, French, German and other languages, was really informative, amusing and was easy to understand.

        For children, there's nothing really that scary: the exhibits might look real, but it's all family friendly. Some of the then-citizens' habits might be a bit disgusting, but always lack unneccessary gore. And in fact, your children will be probably be amused by these more repelling facts.

        Afterwards, there are more conventional exhibits, with people dressed up in Viking costumes, demonstrating Viking ways of life.

        Also attached is a shop, selling Viking related things, including wooden swords, magnets, books - the usual things.

        A great educational and fun time. The only thing was, it was a little bit pricey, although there are family deals. I can't remember how much it was when I went, but here are the prices from their website. (You can buy more expensive tickets to the other exhibitions around York: DIG & Barley Hall, although I don't know what these are.


        Adult £6.40

        Child (5-15) £4.50

        Concessions - £5.25

        *Family 3 £17.25

        *Family 4 - £19.50

        *Family 5 £21.75 (Family tickets contain a maximum of two adults)

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          28.10.2009 22:36
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          Not much good unless your intrested.

          We decided to have a day trip to York a few months ago as it was the school holidays, and everyone had a bit of money to spend and was looking forward to a good day out. A few days before the trip, my Mum won some tickets to get into Jorvik Viking Centre in the centre of York for free, and as it was free we decided we might as well go.

          We had had a nice morning in York, visiting plenty of the shops and we also went to Café Rouge for lunch. Then after lunch we thought it might be a good time to use our free tickets, thinking that everyone would be having lunch. It is located right in the centre of York, five minutes walk away from the train station and situated in the middle of plenty of popular shops and restaurants, both chain and individual as well as being a minute or two's walk away from York's market with a variety of stalls. There isn't any parking very near as its in the city, but there are numerous car parks on the outskirts of the main part of the city as well as bus routes that go really near.

          It turned out that we were wrong about the timing, there was in fact a huge queue, something which I now wonder about as I didn't see it as that good. However, the huge queue was for tickets as once you had bought your tickets you could go straight through to the actual attraction.

          When you first entered, the impression it gave off was distinctly unimpressive. Before you entered the attraction there was just a pay desk and the very long queue, this is because most of the attraction is actually built underground. At this point, you may have to wait for a short time because they let people through in groups, we only had to wait a minute or two as it was very busy on the day we went, but I can see this being a problem on the less busy and off peak times.

          Once you have enough people in your group, the doors will then open and you can enter a room which involves simulated time travel. There are a few rows of benches, and one you sit down you are warned that these may move. They do, as the screen lights up and you see each period of time flashing before you each with people from each time period in the fashion of that time speaking to you. The seats do shake a bit, but its not really anything exciting and if you aren't too keen on this type of thing there is the option to stand at the back of the room, good for elderly people and babies. When I first heard about this I thought it would be a really amazing simulator ride, like you get in theme parks but this turned out to not be the case. The next part of the attraction is called 'time cars,' and is a very slow ride, similar to one you might get in a little kids section of a theme park, however this would definitely be an educational little kids section! You get into cars, two people per car and go on a slow ride around the circuit which shows the history and life of Vikings, complete with sights and authentic smells. Its over within 10 minutes, and then you're onto the next section. It might be helpful to some people that you can change the language that the audio commentary is on as you go around. I didn't really find this section that interesting at all, but it was relaxing on a boiling day in York.

          The next section is a museum with various exhibits, about the life of Vikings of course with different historical artefacts from the time. These are things such as clothes, bones, jewellery, remains and tools. How long you spend here really depends on how interested you are, and how long you normally spend in museums - some people just see something and that's enough, but some people like to study it. If you're one of the second people then you could probably stay here for at least twenty minutes, but I was bored after five minutes. When you exited this, there was also a gift shop but the really nice stuff seemed expensive, although there was a pocket money section I decided it would be a much better idea to spend my money on the clothes shops outside than on pens and pencils. There wasn't any eating facilities here, apart from sweets and ice cream in the gift shop.

          To do the whole museum probably took around 20-25 minutes, fine if its free but if I was paying I wouldn't want to spend that much money: current prices on the website as of 2009 are £8.50 for an adult and £6.00 for a child. It was also rather boring, but for people with an interest in Vikings it would be great.

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            24.10.2009 21:23
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            Such an impressive site attracted me to visit twice.

            During my four days trip to York City I would like to say Jorvik Viking Centre was the most interesting and enjoyable place I visited. I'm comparing it to sites, such as Clifford's Tower, National Railway Museum, York Castle Museum, and York Minster, etc.

            General information

            Jorvik Viking Centre is located within the Coppergate Shopping Centre, just by St. Mary's Square and surrounded by many shops. The building itself looks like an ordinary shop too. In fact most of the building on the ground floor is a gift shop as well as exit from the Centre. Since it first opened in April 1984 it has been hugely popular. Without noticing the long queue at the entrance to the centre you would not consider that it is a tourist site.

            Originally the site was a buried city of the Vikings, who were sea-borne warriors from the Scandinavian area and invaded the North of England in medieval ages. During their stay on these lands they built a small city with houses, streets and it had a population of around 10,000. By the way Jorvik is a name that comes from old English and Scandinavian languages and eventually morphed into York.

            From 1979 to 1981 archaeologists supported by York Archaeological Trust excavated the remains left by Vikings around these area. Like the proverbial Roman City, Jorvik Viking Centre was not built in a day. The original Centre was open in 1984 and refurbished in 2001. This re-opening reflects the wealth of detail recovered from the excavations by archaeologists and specialists from many countries. The displays of their achievements at the centre brought history alive permanently.

            Jorvik Viking Centre is open daily except for the Christmas period. In summer it opens from 10am to 5pm. In winter it closes one hour earlier.

            It's free for York Pass holders. If you are a member of English Heritage you are qualified for 15% discount. Currently there is a charge of £8.50 for adults, £6 for children and £7 for concessions. Do remember you are entitled to free entry to the centre at any time over the next 12 months.

            What you can see

            Jorvik Viking Centre is on the very site where archaeologists discovered the remains of Viking York and your trip will tell you what life was like 1000 years ago. You can see, you can hear and even smell the life when you travel through a reconstruction of Viking streets.

            1. Time Machine

            It is the first stage of your journey. A staff member outfitted in Viking style stands at the entrance to a small room named the Time Machine. Entering the room you can see a few rows of benches and a big screen in front of you. After sitting on the benches the staff briefly explains about your journey and how you would be taken back in time. You can see a couple on the screen, dressed in typical costumes of the appropriate time period as you travel back in time. You can feel your benches jolt back and forth until you finally reach your destination: AD 975.

            2. Journey of Yorvik streets

            At the end of your journey back in time there is an open pod-type contraption waiting for you, which will take you on a ride through the streets of Jorvik. Every pod has 2 rows of seats holding up to 6 people. You can push a button in front of your seat to choose an appropriate language to listen to a commentary about what you see.

            Slowly you will pass by two children, who are playing a popular Viking board game called Hnefetafl. Then you will come across the blacksmith's home, an example of an old, simpler, single storey building made from wattle and daub, which suffered from severe dampness. Next you pass the woodturner's home, a brand new cellared building made entirely from oak. Don't be surprised when the speakers by your ears become rowdy because you are just encountering the woodturner at work as well as an afternoon chat between two men and a woman. The woman is their neighbour in the opposite street and just leans over on her wall. Also don't panic if you smell some unpleasant odours in the air, such as rotting fish or even worse than that, in particular when you see a man sitting on a Viking cesspit. Yorvik was home to 10,000 people and covered in filth and muck. Proper sanitation was a long way in the future.

            When you 'ramble' around Coppergate Street, which was just one of many streets in Yorvik, you will see that people could buy anything they wanted in the market because the Vikings traded goods from across Britain, as well as Europe and Asia.

            Granted that the previous smells are not very nice, but when you see a Viking hearth, which was the centre of home life, and the fire was used for light, heat and cooking, you cannot help guessing and smelling what's cooking for dinner tonight.

            As you come to the end of your journey through Yorvik streets you will be introduced to the some of the original house foundations, which were discovered exactly where you see them. You also can see how they reconstructed the faces of the Vikings using the skulls they found on the site.

            All in all a remarkable journey back through time to AD 975.

            3. The Exhibition Hall

            In the Exhibition Hall you can get a big picture of Viking life, death, disease and battle, etc. There are many interactive displays for you such as talking with Viking people, trying on a Viking helmet or having your own replica coin struck by a Viking coin merchant. You can also complete a short survey on a touch-screen kiosk to find your ethnical connection with Vikings. Last but not least you can investigate bones including a full skeleton, which were found on the land where you are standing. The skeleton is thought to be that of a warrior, who suffered many serious injuries in battle.

            My opinion

            I enjoyed my visit very much. So don't laugh at me when I tell you I travelled on the Time Machine twice. I tried my best to catch every detail during those two visits. For me the idea of the Time Machine was not very attractive, but the performance of the actors on screen made the show very eye-appealing.

            The first visit I was sitting in the second row of the pod. I was struggling to understand the explanation, which was in English, coming from the speakers by my ears, so I missed a lot of the scenes. Luckily on my second visit I managed to sit in the front row, so the view was open and fantastically clear. I was very surprised by what I saw. Viking life was so basic at that time yet in AD 980 the Song Dynasty was established in China and the social system was already highly developed. Don't misunderstand me. It was just that here we are a thousand years later and the roles have been reversed, not that I am saying China of today is backward, but it is now trying to catch up with the West technologically speaking.

            Incidentally I completed the survey I mentioned earlier and found I'm a Viking! How could it be? The Vikings' favourite daily drink was beer instead of my beloved Adam's ale.

            PS. Welcome to visit my blog for more pictures.
            http://blossom-iwanttoseetheworld.blogspot.com

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              15.08.2009 15:19
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              An enjoyable attraction in York city centre.

              Armed with our York Passes and our York Pass Guide Book Mum & I headed to JORVIK Viking Centre in the afternoon of the first day of our 3 day trip to York, having already visited Fairfax House and York Castle Museum.

              JORVIK Viking Centre was opened to the public in April 1984. The centre was built on a site that had been excavated (between 1979-81 by York Archaeological Trust) and the plan was to permanently display the remains of Jorvik in that area. So while you will see items and areas that have been excavated, you will also see streets and scenes recreated to show you what life was like over 1000 years ago.

              The Viking Centre can be found just off Coppergate, by St. Mary's Square in York City Centre and is surrounded by shops.

              JORVIK is open daily at 10am and closes at 5pm during the summer and 4pm during the winter (opening times can vary over the Christmas period). It is open all year round, apart from 24th - 26th December (which is to be expected).

              When we visited JORVIK (on a Wednesday in August 2009) there was only a handful of people in the queue in front of us, however when we passed it on the Friday morning the queue was substantial. So I would advise visiting in the beginning or middle of the week.

              It costs an adult £8.50 to enter JORVIK and £6 for a child (between the ages of 5 - 15). Concessions are £7 and there are a range of family tickets available. Group discounts are also available. Tickets can also be pre-booked in advance and this will give you the advantage of jumping the queue during busy periods. However, if you have a York Pass then you can enter for free (as we did)! A printed guide of JORVIK was also available, but we didn't buy one.

              Once you have paid (or presented your York Pass), then you enter JORVIK by going down some stairs (or a lift is available). Entering via the stairs takes you to a small room where a handful of people seemed to be just standing. I looked around and could see a door which said "Time Machine" (or something along those lines), we were waiting for the door to open! At this point there is the opportunity to pop to the toilets (which are to the left at the bottom of the stairs) and there is a storage facility for pushchairs etc.

              Finally, the door of the time machine opened and a man in a scientists outfit welcomed us in and told us to take a seat for our journey. We chose to sit in the back row and thankfully our bench had a backrest to it (I'll tell you why I was thankful for it in a minute!). There were a few rows of benches and once everyone was seated the "scientist" explained about our journey and how we would be taken back in time. He set the machine and our journey began.......

              I wasn't quite prepared for being jolted back and forth each time we "leapt back in time". Knowing me, I'd have probably have toppled backwards off one of the backless benches in front of us! At first we started by going back in decades and then it would jump back in centuries or more at a time. As we went "back in time" a screen in front of us showed a couple dressed in the suitable attire for the appropriate time and with each jolt back and forth they would merge into the next timeframe we were in. So one moment we were in the 2000's and then next the 90's, then 80's, 70's and so on, 1800s, etc and so on until we finally reached our destination in time, except we overshot and went back too far! We were in 975AD.

              We were then ushered out of the time machine and into a short queue for the next part of our journey. Here we were seated into an open pod-type contraption (holding up to 6 people within 2 rows of seats) and told to select the appropriate language from a set of buttons in front of us. I can't remember exactly what languages there was to choose from, but there was around 5 or 6 and, of course, we chose English.

              Our "pod", connected to an overhead track, slowly took us through the streets of JORVIK (or York how it would have looked and sounded back then). The speakers in the headrests behind us provided us with a commentary of what things were and what was happening. Although, at times I couldn't quite hear the commentary for the noises in the "street" such as one animated woman gabbling on constantly and quite loudly! The "pod" would turn and show us some scenes more closely, all while on the move. The scenes weren't just sights and sounds, there were smells too... some not too nice! One example of the not so nice smells is that animated man who was showing us a Viking example of a toilet... outside in the street! He seemed to be struggling to "go" and I could smell that scene before I saw it!

              Once the tour was finished, we disembarked the pod and were then in an area where we could interact with objects and Viking people. You could try on a Viking helmet (as one lad was doing and a man was explaining all about it), a man was striking coins which you could buy, and there was plenty of other things on display. There was also an exhibition of artifacts with touch-screen kiosks to provide further insight. You could also learn from the bones they had on display (including a full skeleton!). The bones told their own story about Viking life, death, diseases and battle etc.

              Finally, we came to the gift shop. It was a small shop (as are most of these types of shops), yet it was home to a wide range of souvenirs and gifts, all JORVIK themed.

              While an entry fee of £8.50 might seem a lot, the JORVIK Visitor Centre have put a lot of work into this and it's not like there's a whole load of money in archeology. It's interesting and while I enjoyed it as an adult, I think it would be something kids would enjoy too, especially with the interaction of being able to touch, feel and wear items and talk to the characters there. It's always good to have fun while learning things.

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                15.08.2009 03:56
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                Definitely worth a visit when you're oop North, like.

                I visited this quirky bit of York in July 2009.

                I must say, this wasn't what I was expecting. I had envisaged voluptuous ladies with plaited blonde wigs and the old viking helmets, with some old ships thrown in for good measure.

                At the beginning of my visit, we were treated to a little "simulator" experience which involved watching a young man and a young woman playing dress-up on a large screen, while us in the audience were being rocked to and fro. I think that part was aimed more at the juvenile section of visitors.

                The main part of the tour was an experience though. It was a ride-through which reminded me of Disneyland's "It's A Small World", only it had a very distinctive musky smell and it was more suited to worldy miners than wide-eyed minors. The displays are marvellous though. There were lots of lifelike models of the people of Jorvik and the sorts of houses they lived in.

                When the ride finished, it was like being in your average museum. There were leaflets full of information you could take away with you, interactive screens and viking relics to look at.

                What I particularly enjoyed was the archeological section of the centre where you can sift through old bones, pottery and rocks and learn how to identify different materials.

                There was also a genuinely fascinating talk held by one of the attendants, referring to an actual skeleton dating back to the Viking period.

                If you go, make sure you get there by ten o' clock in the morning as the queue tends to get infuriatingly long after that.

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                29.06.2009 13:34
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                Jorvik bring the smells of yor to the present

                I've already written a review based on our early May trip to Yorkshire. We spent a day in York, which was a pleasantly surprisingly city. We had a lovely sunny day which was a big help so I questioned whether or not it was worth paying to inside to the Jorvik Viking experience. However, my husband had been as a child, was terribly frightened and is to this day teased by his family. So we really had to go back to check it out and allow him to redeem himself.

                We left our visit until early afternoon and expected there to be queues as it was half term break. The museum is very much in the centre of the city centre and a little bit hard to find despite the signs. We were very much in need of refreshment by the time we found the entrance and were slightly put off by the line. We decided to observe how quickly the queue moved while having a drink at the Starbucks across the street. We were pleasantly surprised to see that, while the line was regularly being added to, no one seemed to be waiting for more than 7 or 8 minutes. We really lucked out in that, by the time we tried to enter, somehow there were only two people in front of us!

                Jorvik Viking Experience is open 7 days a week except for over Christmas and opens at 10am daily except for New Year's day. It costs £8.50 for adults, £6.00 for children with family rates and group rates available. Tickets can also be purchased as parts of packages with DIG and Barley Hall. For more information they have a website www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk.

                On entering we were directed down stairs to wait with about a dozen other people. There was a good sized lift so the building seemed quite accessible. The first portion of the experience is the "time machine" with a rather cheesy video depicting a man and woman in costumes that jump back through time. One notices that they get increasingly dirty as time moves into the past. While it's unlikely to win any awards we had a little laugh at the introduction and it's better than some I've seen! The doors open and you are let out into "the past" to the city of York in Viking times.

                After a brief wait of about a minute we were seated in a little car that would seat 6 people in two rows. We were in the back row, seated slightly higher up than those in front. My husband is very tall but he fit into the seat more comfortably than many rides we've been on. It probably helped that it was just the two of us in a space designed for 3! You are directed to choose your language and then you lean back against the head rest and are talked through the exhibit as the car moves from scene to scene. First of all, after a day of wandering all over York and a week of visiting various places in Yorkshire, a museum where you can sit the whole time was great! Loved it! The chairs turn from side to side depending on what you are supposed to be focusing on. You are taken past various types of homes and labourers as well as through the market. Various animals are part of the scenes and we found those particularly amusing for some reason. The mechanical people babble quietly in the background.

                Of course the key thing anyone will remember after this experience is the smell. Smelling the past is Jorvik's little gimmick. You smell smoke and food and some things that are perhaps best left unsmelt! It is a truly bizarre experience but luckily the smells do not follow you to the next exhibit area.

                After exiting our little car with the assistance of a man in costume, we entered the interactive exhibit area. There were quite a few families in this area and we felt it was really only fair to let the children who were there play with everything so we did not linger long in this section. There was a costumed assistant allowing people to try on hats and costumes as well as someone doing some blacksmith work. There was one computer screen finding out how good a Viking you would be and an area on illnesses and causes of death in Viking times complete with a skeleton. While as adults we found ourselves skim reading and moving along quite quickly, the kids seemed to be having a great time.

                In all I found the Jorvik Experience a great addition to our York trip. While not the cheapest activity out there it was more reasonably priced to many less interesting places I've visited. However, value for money, it didn't exactly fill a whole afternoon. It was a nice cool break on a warm day. It would also likely be a good place to hide from the rain should you find yourself in York with slightly more typical weather! The staff were friendly and helpful and really kept things moving along smoothly. One concern for those who might be there on a very busy day is that the queue is almost entirely outside in the open with little cover which might not make for the best waiting experience!

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                  09.05.2009 13:36
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                  One of the UK's leading tourist attractions

                  Since opening its doors to the public in 1984 the Jorvik Viking Centre in York has attracted over 15 million visitors and won numerous tourist awards, establishing itself as one of the UK's major tourist attractions. Despite regular visits to York I only visited the Jorvik Centre recently having been previously discouraged by the huge queues.

                  When I visited I arrived early and the queues weren't too bad but it often extends for well over a hundred metres and with no shelter it's not the best way to start your visit if the weather is bad. After paying your entry fee you walk into a holding area where you have to wait your turn for the tour. There are some toilets in this area but to be honest this holding area looked a little bit shabby despite the dimmed lighting and I couldn't help but notice some green mould on the corrugated roofing above.

                  Each tour consists of about 30 people and tours take place about every 10 minutes throughout the day. After a wait of only a few minutes we were greeted by a chap dressed as a Viking who invited us to follow him on a journey into the past to the year 975AD and more intriguingly to a specific date within that year. We all followed like sheep and were seated inside a small room, this room was referred to as "the time machine" and this is from where our journey began. I won't describe what happened in detail for fear of spoiling it for others but it was an interesting start to the tour.

                  Having travelled back in time over a thousand years we were then greeted by another authentically dressed character who loaded us all into carriages which would take us on our tour of York as it would have looked all those years ago. Each of the carriages are like small cable cars connected to an overhead track, they hold either 4 or 6 people and travel along at a very slow pace, twisting and turning to ensure that you don't miss anything along the way. Before you begin you journey however you select your preferred language for the tour by pressing a pad in front of you and lean back into your seat. There is a microphone inside each headrest and this provides an audio tour. I was sat right at the front of the very first carriage that I would suggest is probably the best place to sit.

                  The tour moves along through the streets of York as it would have looked at and there are smells to accompany each scene. Numerous life size and very realistic looking models create each of the scenes, which accompanied with the smells and the audio sounds gives a real sense of being a part of the action. It should be noted that some of the smells are not very pleasant. The tour lasts about 20 minutes and at the end of it you walk through an area where there are replicas of some of the items seen. Here you can try on a Viking helmet or hold a shield. This is the only part of the centre where photographs can be taken.

                  The final part of the journey is a museum where you are free to wander around the exhibits that have been unearthed during archaeological digs in the city. These are displayed inside glass cabinets and include tools, utensils, clothing and weapons and there is even a full size human skeleton.

                  Not surprisingly at the very end of the tour, just before the exit there is a large gift shop that you have to walk through on your way out. I resisted temptation and walked straight through having just enjoyed a very memorable experience.

                  The Yorvik Centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm during the summer and from 10am till 4pm during the winter. Admission prices are £8.50 per adult, £7 concessions and £6 for children. Whilst family and group tickets are available it can be quite an expensive day out. However the admission charge of £8.50 per adult was never really an issue for me since this is the sort of place that I would generally be happy to pay that sort of fee as a one off experience.

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                    26.04.2009 12:42
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                    If your ever in York its a definite must see!!!

                    The Jorvik center is if you didn't know, situated in the center of York, Yorkshire. Its one of the main attractions in the city and brings in hundreds of tourists and school visitors.

                    The Jorvik Centre (pronounced Yorvic), is a real acheaology site, where the Vikings of York lived thousands of years ago.

                    Its a museum with a twist though, as with "normal" museums, you walk around, you read signs and miss most things, especially if you have kids with you! But, this place is very different, when you enter, your taken into a "time machine", where you sit, and your told a short story, and a scientist takes us back in time to 975AD when the Vikings lived in York.

                    Upon leaving the "time machine", you notice you've been transported back in time, to the old streets of York. You are then taken to a "ride", I say ride, but its not really anything exciting, its like a Ghost Train type machine, where you sit in and it takes you around the museum. When your in the ride, you can chose a commentart of English, German, french, Italian and Spanish, there is also an English "children's" commentary, which is pretty much the same as the adults but its in a much easier to understand language so children don't get confused, which I thought was a great idea myself...and ended up listening to it myself one time I went!!!!!

                    The ride lasts around 20 minutes, and then at the end there is a short "walk around" part of the museum, where there are actors playing parts of the Vikings, and also a small shop at the other end. All in all a trip to the Jorvik centre won't last you much longer than an hour, if your lucky, which is not long at all seeing as you pay £8.50 per adult, and £6 per child, but it is well worth the trip! It gives you something just that little bit extra than just the same old museum. And it really gives you a new view on York itself.

                    The museum itself was "found" around 1984, when a new building was been built on the site, when the builders stumbled upon an old town beneath the new city of York, with Viking remains, a whole new York was found, and the museum was put on top of it, so that it could be preserved and so that tourists could see their findings.

                    The Jorvik centre is open 7 days a week. In summer the opening times are 10am-5pm and in winter, 10am til 4pm. The only days the Jorvik centre is fully closed in Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day. So whenever you visit York, it is a well worth trip! Also, if your a tax payer, and you give Gift Aid, you get a free return trip within the next year for the same amount of people who went with you the first time...this is the same with most things in York infact!

                    Although the trip to the Jorvik centre isn't a long one, and you can't make a day of it, it is well worth it, you'll remember it all your life! And there are plenty other things to do in York to make up the day...the National Rail Museum for example isn't too far away and is free to enter, also when you buy your tickets for Jorvik, you can pay a little extra for admission to other York attractions, and you can save for families of 4, 5, and 6.

                    If your ever in York (and I do suggest a holiday there!!!), then the Jorvik is definitely a must see attraction, its great for all the family!!!!! Just remember to pack me in your suitcase....pleaseeee!!!!!

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                      07.01.2009 20:37
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                      not worth the money

                      A group of us visited jorvik viking centre in york. It isnt that obvious where the attraction is but I remember it was next to the whisky shop. Luckily we had boooked in advance so didnt have to queue. This was a good job since there were long queues to go in.

                      The main part of the jorvik attraction is the ride that takes you through the viking times. Each ride carridge seats five people. This ride is complete with lights, smells and sounds. The ride is good and enjoyable however the downside is that the ride is not long enough and before you know it has ended.

                      After that there is a short display that doesnt take long to get round.

                      It is quite pricey to get into this attraction and I dont think it is worth the money as it is too short. It definatley isnt an attraction that you want to repeatadley visit.

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                        11.03.2002 19:19
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                        As you may be aware, the famous Jorvik Viking Centre in York received a massive £5m grant as a "millennium" project for the north of England not so long ago. The centre was closed for several months of last year while this pot of cash was spent updating and improving the ever popular visitor attraction, and it has recently reopened to the public. Being the nosy little thing that I am, I took a trip down there last Sunday to see what had been done with all this money. For research purposes only, you understand. ●A bit of background The Jorvik Viking Centre was first opened in 1984, on the site of an archaeological excavation that had taken place along Coppergate. York is a very archaeologically rich city, as people have lived on the same area for many centuries, and the naturally wet conditions of the soil mean that it is very good for the preservation of organic material as the bacteria that cause decay cannot live in such environments. It is well known that the city centre is built upon several metres of accumulated material from the many people who have lived in York in the past, so excavations there usually turn up an abundance of finds. The one planned for the newly cleared Coppergate site was to be no exception, and an estimated one million people came to watch the dig as it progressed between 1976 and 1981. The excavation found a great deal of well preserved material dating from the Viking period (ninth & tenth centuries), when York was the capital of Danelaw (the Viking occupied part of England). Organic material such as original building timbers, leather, bone and antler artefacts had all survived, enabling the York Archaeological Trust (YAT) to reconstruct and understand the city in this period. The most spectacular find though, was the stunning Coppergate Helmet, found deposited in a pit (presumably for safekeeping) right at the end of the excavation. The helmet is now in the British Museum. Following th
                        e end of the dig, YAT and the local authorities collaborated to open the centre and capitalise on the massive public interest that had grown out of the dig and its finds. ●The new Jorvik Centre After being open for nearly twenty years, YAT felt it was time for Jorvik to have a facelift - to add new attractions, new interpretation and get some new publicity to increase visitor numbers. Although the basic approach is still the same as in the original Jorvik, new technologies and ways of presenting the past have crept in. I have now been to Jorvik twice, the first time being the summer of 1998, so I have seen both versions of the centre. I'm sure many of you will have visited Jorvik, or at least seen the queues of people outside it! (I was told by a guest lecturer on my museums course that queues can actually be desirable if they are controlled properly, as they make the attraction appear more popular than it actually is, therefore increasing visitor numbers - I'm unsure whether this works in practice though). Upon entering the building and parting with your money, you descend a flight of stairs that take you through a reconstructed section of the actual layers found on site, until you reach Viking levels. Here, in an almost Disney fashion, you are herded in small groups through into a "time machine" to take you back to the ninth century - this is one of the new all-singing all-dancing bits of technology that has been installed. The basic idea is that you are in a motion simulator that shakes about and shows you a short film of you "going back in time" - which is all very well if you are five. I felt a wee bit patronised at this, but grudgingly accepted that many children visit and probably like such gimmicks. I don't. Following your release from the time machine, you now move on the most famous part of the site - the dark ride through the reconstructed Viking York. This is the
                        bit that everyone remembers; the moving models, the sights, sound and smells of the city that help to bring it to life, and the reason children love it so much. I am pleased to report that this bit still exists, only with better technology, multi-language interpretation (including a child's English option that I thought was a great idea) and new bits that help make clearer how the archaeology works in building up this image of the past. Actual timbers in their original locations are used to reinforce this. Getting off the ride, you move onto the museum part of Jorvik. Anybody who has been to the "old" centre will no doubt recall the section where you walk through a lab setting that help to show how the finds were analysed. This part has now gone - lets face it, it was hardly cutting edge! What replaces it is a pretty much standard exhibition space about the Vikings as seafarers, including topics such as shipbuilding, how we know about Viking boats, trading and raiding and some relevant finds from Coppergate. I wasn't overly enthused about the presentation - I felt that it lacked imagination and there wasn't really anything to appeal to children in it, which was a pity. The room felt pretty cramped too, as people were constantly entering at a steady pace from the ride, so this was a bit of a bottleneck and I felt I was being hurried through faster than I would have liked. The second gallery was simply breathtaking though! Here, the traditional "objects in glass cases" approach has gone, and a lot of money has been spent making the archaeological objects that are a mystery to most people understandable. And not a word is written anywhere, so there are no language barriers and nothing to stop children getting as much out of it as adults. So what have they done? Well, imagine a darkened room with several large glass cases in it. Each case contains a selection of artefacts carefully laid out, and a quite inge
                        nious set-up of lights and mirrors in it. As you watch the items, the lighting in the case slowly alters so that a scene of a person using the items is projected onto the artefacts in a hologram-like style. What you see is the find as it came out of the ground, and the find as it would have been used in a slowly alternating sequence - you can see what the object was and how it would have been used without needing to know the name or technical description. It is quite beautiful and mesmerising to watch and a fabulous way of interpreting the past! Leaving this room, you pass through the shop and café before returning upstairs to the city. One strange thing that I have to remark on though. The Coppergate helmet - logo of the centre, part of the brand-image (yes, even museums have these now) and most famous find made there (there is even a plaque to mark the spot where it was dug up) - is absent. There used to be a really cool hologram of it in the main gallery (the real one being in the BM) which has now gone and nothing replaces it. No model, no reconstruction, no text, no digital image, not even a photo that I could see! Why have they done this? Answers on a postcard please... ●The good bits - Intellectually accessible - A lot has been done to tackle language barriers - Well stocked shop, not too expensive - Appealing and understandable to children - The fantastic "lights and mirrors" display - All proceeds go to YAT ●The not so good bits - Entrance price is a bit steep, and student/OAP discount is not overly generous - The "time machine" - Parts felt a bit cramped and overcrowded - I felt a bit rushed in places, which would be worse in high season - Access might be a bit difficult for wheelchair users ●Other details Jorvik is situated on Coppergate in the city centre, and is within a short walk from the r
                        ailway station. Other attractions in the locality are Clifford's Tower (English Heritage), Castle Museum, York Minster, the York Dungeon and the Yorkshire Museum. Maps are available from the Tourist Information and around the city, and it is well signposted and easy to find. The centre is open daily 10am to 5.30pm, and queues are shorter first thing in the morning and from mid-afternoon onwards. Entrance fees are £6.95 for adults, £5.95 for OAPS and students and £4.95 for children. A visit takes about one hour.

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                          16.01.2001 21:27
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                          The Jorvik Viking Centre Museum is one of the most unusual museums I have ever visited. From memory (it was a few years ago now) it was relatively expensive but it was well worth it. You sit in a small car, a bit like the ones on the Ghost Train at the funfair, and you travel through a Viking city, Jorvik, founded in AD 867 on the site of what is now York. Relics found during excavations of the site have been used to recreate various parts of Viking life. As you travel round the museum you see different scenes from work and home, you hear the sounds and smell the smells – and it is very realistic! When you alight from the car at the other end there is an interactive museum for you to look round showing some more of the relics which were excavated together with more information about the life and times of both the Vikings and the excavation team. The Jorvik Viking centre can be found off Coney Street in a shopping precinct opposite Boots the Chemist. In the high season you can’t miss it as there’s always a queue, but, as I say, it is well worth the wait.

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                          14.11.2000 01:41
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                          Jorvik Museum is a must - but just the once! Jorvik offers a faithful and fascinatingly accurate portrayal of life in the Viking settlement of 'Jorvik', later to be known as York. The reconstruction is genuinely quite spectacular - authentic to the last detail - including smells, you're trundled around the display on a ghost-train-esque carriage. Unfortunately, this is all-too-short. You're quickly spat out into a run-of-the-mill museum, with archaelogical relics behind glass which will hold very limited appeal to small children or those who generally don't enjoy museums as much as hands-on interactive experiences. The queues can be very long - especially in the summer, so it's wise to plan ahead and check up for availabilty. The price is a little high - but as the only authentic portrayal of Viking Life within York, and a truly inspirational one at that, Jorvik is certainly worth A visit.

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