Thanks to its rich and layered history, the UK is packed with fascinating primary school trip destinations, and York is certainly one that stands out for its amazing heritage – a modern city, built on a medieval city, built on a Viking city, built on a Roman city. It is one of the best places to learn about life in Viking Britain, so for an idea of what school groups can expect, read on.
The Kingdom of Jorvik
The city, as it is seen by those who visit on a primary school trip, is much changed from its ancient past. From the late 9th century to the middle of the 10th century CE, the area was dominated by warrior-kings from Scandinavia. Jorvik, the city at the heart of their kingdom, was a true Viking stronghold, built on the foundations laid by the Romans many centuries before. It became a great city and a major river port, the capital of a dominion that extended across modern Yorkshire and into several other counties. It was a vibrant, tumultuous time, with commerce thriving on the river – with trade going on between Jorvik and much of Europe as well as far-away ports in the Middle East – and mighty defences constructed partly using the existing Roman fortifications. The Vikings built streets lined with timber houses, a bridge, and some 20 churches. Crafts practised in the city included working with wood, bone, metal, textiles and glass.
The extent of York’s Viking legacy lay forgotten through many ages, until a modern archaeological dig uncovered the remains of the ancient city right under the bustle of the modern one. So much of Jorvik’s former glory was preserved, in the structures and artefacts found, that it was possible to recreate the lively streets, workshops and houses of its heyday in awe-inspiring detail, so that today’s visitors can step right back in time at the Jorvik Viking Centre. Examining the exhibitions of Viking objects, exploring painstakingly reconstructed scenes of daily life in the city, and unearthing Viking artefacts at the DIG experience – guided by a real archaeologist – make for thrilling activities on a primary school trip.
Learning at Jorvik
Another feature that makes Jorvik such a great primary school trip attraction is its inspiration-packed learning programme. From the interactive screens in the artefact gallery, to the information sheets and activity pack, the importance of exploration and investigation in education is emphasised at Jorvik. A range of workshops include Viking Battle Tactics, where weapons and tactics are investigated; Viking Medicines, where the connection between ancient and modern medicine can be discovered; Viking Fashion, where pupils can try out braiding techniques and learn about the practical side of fashion in the Viking world; and Viking Sagas, which opens up the world of Norse sagas and myths. All of these can be enjoyed in their own right as well as linking to modern curriculum subjects such as English and Science.