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The Silk Forest help create a Viking village

Some years ago The Silk Forest worked on the landscapes for the Viking Centre in York. That’s the one famous for it’s authentic recreation of a Viking village right down to the smells.

Sadly as we know, York was hit by floods over the winter of 2015-21016 and the Viking Centre, situated below the Coppergate Shopping Centre, didn’t escape. Made worse by being below street level, luckily the staff managed to save all the valuable artefacts. They couldn’t however save the village as over a metre of water covered the site. The term water is used loosely as it contained some seriously unpleasant additions!

The York Archaeological Trust, which owns the Centre, spent most of 2016 having the area cleaned out and rebuilt. Working with Rick Matthews Associates, the company responsible for rebuilding the ‘new’ Viking village, The Silk Forest were asked to add the artificial landscape planting.

Not so easy as it sounds; first they had to make sure that whatever was planted was as near to the varieties recorded in the excavated botanical remains as possible. So the average everyday interior planting standards went out of the window. The planting also has to show how it suffered from being on the edge of what was a very busy area at the time.




This meant it was certainly not a set dressed with clean, pristine, perfect examples such as a corporation flower bed. It was weeds, trampled, scuffed, and walked over; the exact opposite of what the company are normally asked to do.

Although many of the buildings would have had thatched roofs, many would also have turves. So The Silk Forest built a turf-stack which sat beside the Viking characters who were supposed to be working on the buildings - the image clearly catches them during their tea break!

For those unfamiliar with the Viking Centre, its origins lie in the archaeology of the ground on which the shopping centre was built. Whilst excavating the foundations, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a Viking village, of which all the timber and organic materials had been preserved in the waterlogged mud. Anaerobic conditions (meaning without oxygen) meant the bacteria which normally causes decay could not survive. The things that would usually rot away such as: shoes, bone combs, foundation timbers, wooden implements and even axe marks in the timber all survived, providing an unique snapshot of daily life in an Anglo-Scandinavian village of the late tenth century.

A soundtrack has been recorded in which the language and voices of Viking Jorvik have been recreated.
To see more of the scenes in the village, go to where you can see some more of The Silk Forest’s work.

t: 01530 231241

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