For fans of History Channel’s Vikings, you can now make a virtual tour of an authentic Viking camp dating from 872 AD. The 1,100-year-old camp has been brought to life thanks to excavation work by a team of archaeologists in England. Viking: Rediscover the Legend is currently an exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum that aims to bring to life the realities of Viking life as they attempted to conquer England.
The Viking camp was discovered in November of last year by researchers from the Universities of Sheffield and York. The camp, located in Torksey, is 55 hectares (136 acres) in size and thousands of Vikings settled there during the late ninth century. According to the Observer, the Viking camp “was used as a base to repair ships, melt down stolen loot, manufacture, trade and play games.”
While it has been established the camp was a base for Viking warriors, Professor Dawn Hadley of the University of Sheffield’s archaeology department explained that it was so much more than just a military base.
“The Vikings’ camp at Torksey was much more than just a handful of hardy warriors. This was a huge base, larger than most contemporary towns, complete with traders, families, feasting and entertainment.”
— Yorkshire Museum (@YorkshireMuseum) May 19, 2017
As a result of this, archaeologists and researchers could extensively piece together the daily rituals of the Vikings from that time, leading to the development of a virtual Viking camp.
The Viking camp has been found to exist on the site in Torksey from between 872 to 873 AD. During that time, “thousands of Viking warriors, women and children lived temporarily at the camp in tents,” according to the Daily Mail.
The virtual Viking tour will be a component of a current museum exhibition. The partnership between the British Museum and the York Museums Trust is presenting an exhibition detailing all of the finds at this Torksey site. This exhibition runs from May 19 to November 5, 2017 at the Yorkshire Museum.
“These extraordinary images offer a fascinating snapshot of life at a time of great upheaval in Britain,” said Professor Julian Richards, who is an archaeologist at the University of York.
“The Vikings had previously often raided exposed coastal monasteries and returned to Scandinavia in winter, but in the later ninth century they came in larger numbers, and decided to stay. This sent a very clear message that they now planned not only to loot and raid – but to control and conquer.”
During the exhibition, specially designed headsets give those present a chance to find out what life was like at the Viking camp during winter. Topography from the area is used to help recreate what it would have been like at the time and each scene uses images of items directly found at the Torksey site.
According to the research leader, Professor Dawn Hadley, of Sheffield University’s Department of Archaeology, during the time Vikings were present at this camp, they were “repairing their boats there and melting down looted gold and silver to make ingots – or bars of metal they used to trade.”
Along with these findings, the amount of lead game pieces also suggest the Vikings present at this camp were “spending a lot of time playing games to pass the time, waiting for spring and the start of their next offensive.” This is something people will be able to experience for themselves when they explore the virtual Viking camp at the Yorkshire Museum.
For those who are fans of History Channel’s Vikings, this virtual tour will be of great interest as it is one of the campsites for the Great Heathen Army. Currently, in Season 4 of Vikings, this army is in England. Season 5 of the historical drama could, potentially, see Ivar the Boneless and his Great Army hunker down in Torksey. According to Current Archaeology, in 867, the Vikings attacked Northumbria and seized York before clashing with the armies of Mercia and Wessex. A change of English leadership in 871 led to a small truce between the English and the Vikings, leading to them wintering in Torksey in 872-873.
But why use virtual reality as a way to engage the audience in these events?
According to Gareth Beale, from York’s Center for Digital Heritage, “Virtual reality allows us to engage with the past in entirely new ways,” the Northern Echo revealed.
“Using CGI technology we were able to produce a series of vignettes of Viking life which enable people to immerse themselves in archaeological interpretation. They can look around and explore the world as archaeologists believe it existed.”
Viking: Rediscover the Legend is an exhibition that runs from May 19 to November 5, 2017 at the Yorkshire Museum. You can view the virtual brochure here.
What do you think of this exciting new virtual tour of a Viking camp belonging to the Great Heathen Army? Let us know by commenting below.
[Featured Image by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]