Scandinavian York is a term, like the terms Kingdom of Jórvík or Kingdom of York, used by historians for the kingdom of Northumbria in the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to the city controlled by these kings. York used to be a centre of Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n power and rule in the British isles.

The name Jórvík is the Scandinavianisation
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 of Eoforwic, the Old English name for 10th century Northumbria's capital, now known as York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

. Old Norse jór- is a short compound version of Old Norse jofurr which has the same etymology and meaning as Old English eofor i.e. boar/chieftain. Old English wic meaning camp (cf. Latin vicus "village") was replaced by Old Norse vík meaning bay. Hence the Scandinavian sense of the name became "port of the chieftain(s)".

The kingdom's territory encompassed a large part of what is now northern England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. With a few interruptions due to wars with Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

, the Anglo-Norse monarchy lasted from 875/876 to 954. It was closely associated with the much longer lived Kingdom of Dublin throughout this period.


York had been founded as the Roman
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 legionary fortress
The Latin word castra, with its singular castrum, was used by the ancient Romans to mean buildings or plots of land reserved to or constructed for use as a military defensive position. The word appears in both Oscan and Umbrian as well as in Latin. It may have descended from Indo-European to Italic...

 of Eboracum
Eboracum was a fort and city in Roman Britain. The settlement evolved into York, located in North Yorkshire, England.-Etymology:The first known recorded mention of Eboracum by name is dated circa 95-104 AD and is an address containing the Latin form of the settlement's name, "Eburaci", on a wooden...

and revived as the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 trading port of Eoforwic. It was first captured in November, 866 by Ivar the Boneless
Ivar the Boneless
Ivar Ragnarsson nicknamed the Boneless , was a Viking leader and by reputation also a berserker. By the late 11th century he was known as a son of the powerful Ragnar Lodbrok, ruler of an area probably comprising parts of modern-day Denmark and Sweden.-Invader:In the autumn of AD 865, with his...

, leading a large army of Danish Vikings, called the "Great Heathen Army
Great Heathen Army
The Great Heathen Army, also known as the Great Army or the Great Danish Army, was a Viking army originating in Denmark which pillaged and conquered much of England in the late 9th century...

" by Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, which had landed in East Anglia and made their way north, aided by a supply of horses with which King Edmund of East Anglia
Edmund the Martyr
St Edmund the Martyr was a king of East Anglia, an Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the English counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.D'Evelyn, Charlotte, and Mill, Anna J., , 1956. Reprinted 1967...

 bought them off and by civil in-fighting between royal candidates in the Anglian Kingdom
The Heptarchy is a collective name applied to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east, and central Great Britain during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, conventionally identified as seven: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex...

 of Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

 between the leaders of its two sub-kingdoms; Bernicia
Bernicia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by Anglian settlers of the 6th century in what is now southeastern Scotland and North East England....

 and Deira
Deira was a kingdom in Northern England during the 6th century AD. Itextended from the Humber to the Tees, and from the sea to the western edge of the Vale of York...

. Declaring a truce, the rivals for the throne of Northumbria joined forces but failed to retake the city in March, 867, and with their deaths Deira came under Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 control as the Kingdom of Northumbria and the Northumbrian royal court fled north to refuge in Bernicia. A Viking attempt against Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

 the same season failed and in 869 their efforts against Wessex were fruitless in the face of opposition from Kings Ethelred
Ethelred of Wessex
King Æthelred I was King of Wessex from 865 to 871. He was the fourth son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex...

 and Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

. The archbishop, Wulfhere
Wulfhere of York
-Life:Wulfhere was consecrated in 854.In 867 the Danes attacked York, and captured it. Wulfhere made peace with the invaders and stayed in York.In 872, the Northumbrians rebelled against the Danes and their collaborators, and Wulfhere fled York. Eventually he found refuge with King Burgred of...

 seems to have temporised and collaborated with the Norse, for he was expelled from York when a Northumbrian uprising in 872 was only temporarily successful; he was recalled and held his seat until his death. The Viking king Guthred was buried in York Minster, a signal that he and the archbishop had reached a lasting accommodation. All the Viking coinage appears to have emanated from the mint at York, a mark of the city's unique status in Northumbria as an economic magnet. York's importance as the seat of Northumbria was confirmed when the Scandinavian warlord, Guthrum
The name Guthrum corresponds to Norwegian Guttom and to Danish Gorm.The name Guthrum may refer to these kings:* Guthrum, who fought against Alfred the Great* Gorm the Old of Denmark and Norway* Guthrum II, a king of doubtful historicity...

, headed for East Anglia, while Halfdan Ragnarsson
Halfdan Ragnarsson
Halfdan Ragnarsson was a Viking chief and one of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok with Aslaug. It has been suggested that Halfdan is the same person as Ragnar's son Hvitserk....

 seized power in AD 875. While the Danish army was busy in Britain, the Isle of Man and Ireland, the Swedish army was occupied with defending the Danish and Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 homelands where Halfdan's brothers were in control.

Native Danish rulers who eventually made Jelling
Jelling is a village in Denmark with a population of 3,248 , located in Jelling Parish approx. 10 km northwest of Vejle. The city lies 105 metres above sea level.-Location:...

 in Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 the site of Gorm the Old
Gorm the Old
Gorm the Old , also called Gorm the Sleepy , was the first historically recognized King of Denmark, reigning from to his death . He ruled from Jelling, and made the oldest of the Jelling Stones in honour of his wife Thyra. Gorm was born before 900 and died .-Ancestry and reign:Gorm is the reported...

's kingdom, were in the East Anglian kingdom. The Five Burghs
Five Burghs
The Five Boroughs or The Five Boroughs of the Danelaw were the five main towns of Danish Mercia . These were Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford...

/Jarldoms were based upon the Kingdom of Lindsey
Kingdom of Lindsey
Lindsey or Linnuis is the name of a petty Anglo-Saxon kingdom, absorbed into Northumbria in the 7th century.It lay between the Humber and the Wash, forming its inland boundaries from the course of the Witham and Trent rivers , and the Foss Dyke between...

 and were a sort of frontier between each kingdom. King Canute the Great
Canute the Great
Cnut the Great , also known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden. Though after the death of his heirs within a decade of his own and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was largely lost to history, historian Norman F...

 would later "reinstall" a Norwegian
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 dynasty of jarl
An earl is a member of the nobility. The title is Anglo-Saxon, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced with duke...

s in Northumbria (Eric of Hlathir
Eiríkr Hákonarson
Eiríkr Hákonarson or Eric of Norway or Eric of Hlathir was earl of Lade, ruler of Norway and earl of Northumbria.-Background:...

), with a Danish dynasty of jarls in East Anglia (Thorkel). Northern England would continue to be a source of intrigue for the Norwegians until Harald III of Norway's death at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

 in 1066 just prior to the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

 and the Norman conquest
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...


The Old Norse placename Konungsgurtha, Kings Court, recorded in the late fourteenth century in relation to an area immediately outside
the site of the porta principalis sinistra, the west gatehouse of the Roman encampment, perpetuated today as King's Square, which nucleates the Ainsty
The Ainsty or the Ainsty of York was a historic district of Yorkshire, England adjacent to the City of York. Originally a wapentake or subdivision of the West Riding of Yorkshire it later had a unique status as a rural area controlled by the corporation of the city.-Geography:The Ainsty covered a...

, perhaps indicates a Viking royal palace site based on the remains of the east gate of the Roman fortress. New streets, lined by regular building fronts for timber houses were added to an enlarging city between AD 900 and 935, dates arrived at by tree-ring chronology carried out on remaining posts preserved in anaerobic clay subsoil.

The Viking kingdom was absorbed into England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 954. After the Kingdom of Jórvík was merged with Northumbria (by now an Earldom of England under the House of Wessex
House of Wessex
The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic, refers to the family that ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex. This House was in power from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex to the unification of the Kingdoms of England....

), the title King of Jórvík became redundant and was succeeded by the title Earl of York
Earl of York
The title Earl of York or Yorkshire was created twice in the Kingdom of England before the title Duke of York was granted to Edmund of Langley, the fourth surviving son of King Edward III, in 1348....

, created in 960. Loss of political independence did not cramp the region's economic success: by ca 1000, the urban boom brought the Viking city of Jórvík to a population total second only to that of London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 within Great Britain.

Although some of the early Earls of York were Nordic like the Jórvík Kings, they were succeeded by Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 after the Norman conquest. William the Conqueror
William I of England
William I , also known as William the Conqueror , was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. He was also Duke of Normandy from 3 July 1035 until his death, under the name William II...

 ended the region's last vestiges of independence and established garrisoned castles in the city. The Earldom of York was abolished by King Henry II
Henry II of England
Henry II ruled as King of England , Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the...



Between 1070 and 1085 there were occasional attempts by the Danish Vikings to recapture their Kingdom of Jórvík; however, these attempts did not materialise into the return of the kingdom.

The title Duke of York
Duke of York
The Duke of York is a title of nobility in the British peerage. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of the British monarch. The title has been created a remarkable eleven times, eight as "Duke of York" and three as the double-barreled "Duke of York and...

, a title of nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 in British peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

, was created in 1341, but was merged with the Crown when the 4th Duke became King Edward IV
Edward IV of England
Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

. Subsequently, the title of Duke of York has usually been given to the second son of the King or Queen.

Archaeological findings

From 1976 to 1981, the York Archaeological Trust
York Archaeological Trust
The York Archaeological Trust for Excavation and Research Limited is an educational charity, established in 1972 in the City of York. It carries out archaeological investigations, fieldwork, excavation and research in York, Yorkshire and throughout Britain and beyond.It also created and now runs...

 conducted a five-year excavation in and around the street of Coppergate in central York. This demonstrated that, in the 10th century, Jórvík's trading connections reached to the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and beyond: a cap made of silk survives, and coins from Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

 were familiar enough and respected enough for a counterfeit to have passed in trade. Both these items, as well as a large human coprolite
A coprolite is fossilized animal dung. Coprolites are classified as trace fossils as opposed to body fossils, as they give evidence for the animal's behaviour rather than morphology. The name is derived from the Greek words κοπρος / kopros meaning 'dung' and λιθος / lithos meaning 'stone'. They...

 known as the Lloyds Bank coprolite, were famously recovered in York a millennium later. Amber
Amber is fossilized tree resin , which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents...

 from the Baltic
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 is often expected at a Viking site and at Jórvík an impractical and presumably symbolic axehead of amber was found. A cowrie
Cowry, also sometimes spelled cowrie, plural cowries, is the common name for a group of small to large sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries...

 shell indicates contact with the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 or the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 and pagan
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 objects have survived side-by-side, usually taken as a sign that Christians were not in positions of authority.

After the excavation, the York Archaeological Trust took the decision to recreate the excavated part of Jórvík on the Coppergate site, and this is now the Jorvik Viking Centre
Jorvik Viking Centre
The JORVIK Viking Centre is a museum and visitor attraction in York, England. It was created by the York Archaeological Trust.- Background :Cravens, a firm of confectioners founded in 1803, relocated from their factory in Coppergate, a street in central York, in 1966...


See also

  • Uí Ímair
    Uí Ímair
    The Uí Ímair , or Dynasty of Ivar, were an enormous royal and imperial Norse dynasty who ruled Northern England, the Irish Sea region and Kingdom of Dublin, and the western coast of Scotland, including the Hebrides, from the mid 9th century, losing control of the first in the mid 10th, but the rest...

  • Ebrauc
  • Raven banner
    Raven banner
    The raven banner was a flag, possibly totemic in nature, flown by various Viking chieftains and other Scandinavian rulers during the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries A.D...

  • History of York
    History of York
    The history of York as a city dates to the beginning of the first millennium AD but archaeological evidence for the presence of people in the region of York date back much further to between 8000 and 7000 BC...

  • Coppergate Helmet
    Coppergate Helmet
    The Coppergate Helmet is an 8th century Anglo-Saxon crested helm in York. It has two cheek plates, a mail curtain and a nose-guard, and is richly decorated with brass ornamentation. On analysis it was found to be made of iron with decorations of brass containing approximately 85 percent copper...

  • Jorvik Viking Centre
    Jorvik Viking Centre
    The JORVIK Viking Centre is a museum and visitor attraction in York, England. It was created by the York Archaeological Trust.- Background :Cravens, a firm of confectioners founded in 1803, relocated from their factory in Coppergate, a street in central York, in 1966...

External links

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