"Follow the map with the seven clues and tell us how you get on via Facebook and Twitter."

Had there been a rail service 1,000 years ago, you would have stepped off the train in York and been hurled into a bustling metropolis. This northern city was England's second most powerful centre after London. The reason? Those fierce, rampaging foreigners from what we now call Scandinavia: the Vikings!

York was an ideal spot (as the Romans had discovered): set on an island, between the rivers Ouse and Foss, it was easy to defend, surrounded by rich agricultural land, plus the tidal Ouse gave access to the trade routes of the North Sea. In 866, the Vikings defeated the resident Anglo-Saxons, renamed the settlement 'Jorvik' and, soon after, made it the Viking capital of northern England. Although they only ruled for around 100 years, they left a huge legacy - weapons, jewellery, cooking equipment, combs, coins, crafts - which we can still see today, if you know where to look... 

Download the Treasure Hunt map

Happy hunting!


The walking guide

1. Turn left out of the train station to Lendal Bridge. Had you stood on the banks of the River Ouse on 1 November 866 you would have seen a great Viking army sail up the river led by the fantastically named Ivar the Boneless. They would have looked formidable: chain-mail shirts, leather body-protectors, huge round shields and iron helmets.

Clue:What was stored in Lendal Tower, the medieval tower at the far side of the bridge?

Hint:Look for the information board on the bridge.


2. Once over the bridge, turn left through Museum Gardens, passing the Roman Multangular Tower, to the Yorkshire Museum (adult entry: £7.50). Its collection on the lower floor shows how wealthy, and skilled, the Vikings were. Look out for a rare silk cap, amber jewellery, animal bone ice-skates and a fabulous solid-gold armband.

Clue:What is the weight of the gold armband?

Hint:It's heavier than you think!


3. Return through Museum Gardens, cross the road and follow Lendal Street and Spurriergate to Ouse Bridge, taking the steps down to the riverside path towards King's Staith. Although peaceful now, this would have been a hive of activity in Viking times when Jorvik was a major European trading port. Wine, silk and amber were just some of the exotic goods imported. Take a boat from here and you can sail the route that Vikings would have followed from the Humber estuary. Then, pop into the King's Arms for a coffee.

Clue:What unusual marker is found inside the King's Arms pub on King's Staith?

Hint:Make sure you don't get wet!

4. To find out what Viking York looked like, walk up Lower Friargate, left along Clifford Street, right into Coppergate and again into the Coppergate Shopping Centre. Hold on to your senses! At the Jorvik Viking Centre, time cars whisk you back to the city's streets, houses, workshops and markets of AD975, recreated on the exact spot where archaeologists unearthed genuine Viking remains (adult entry: £9.25). Watch the wood-turner making cups, fishermen gut fish, a couple argue over supper, and sniff meat roasting as you zip through the butcher's house. It's lively, noisy - and smelly!  Hold your nose as you pass the outside loos.

Clue:What is the antler-carver making?

Hint:He talks to you as you pass him while he makes this everyday object that has a lot of teeth.


5. Back in the fresh air, you're now on the trail of 'gates'. Look above, to first floor level, typically at street corners… Got it? Yes! We're talking street names. The old Scandinavian name for street is 'gata', which became 'gate' in its Anglicised form. Many give a clue for the street's original use: Swinegate was the site of the pig market, Fishergate and Monkgate where fishermen and monks lived, Spurriergate where spur-makers worked, while Colliergate was where coal was traded. Walk up Colliergate to Low Petergate, near the Minster (northern Europe's largest Gothic medieval cathedral), which refers to the church's Patron Saint, and is also home to Café Concerto, a perfect spot to recharge the batteries. Try the toffee and banana cake…

Clue:What's the quirky name of York's shortest street?

Hint:Look for an alley just off Colliergate...


6. Fortified? Good, because now you're climbing to the top of the Minster's central tower (adult entry £6): 275 steps, 70 metres. From here you can gaze towards two important Viking battle sites. In September 1066, Norwegian King Harald Hardrada sailed up the Ouse and defeated the English at Fulford, just south of the city (look for Terry's clock tower and it is to the left on the far side of the river). But only a few days' later the English King Harold marched from the south and roundly defeated the Vikings, killing Hardrada, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, thus marking the end of the Viking age.

Clue:How far is London from the Minster's tower?

Hint:At the top of the tower, there are four plaques pointing out key landmarks.


7. Now it's your turn to become an archaeologist. From the Minster, head along Low Petergate and Colliergate, turning left into St Saviourgate to DIG (adult entry £5.50). Here, in a converted church, real archaeologists give you a trowel and let you turn detective and search among soil for Viking treasures in a replica Coppergate excavation pit. See if you can find a metal pan, horseshoe, hammer or candle holder. Then try identifying objects from parts of unearthed finds. Is it a fish bone, a leather strap, or a Viking-age poo?!

Clue:Which of these foods did Vikings NOT eat: chicken, carrots, apples, garlic, onions?

Hint:Try your hand at one of the interactive games in DIG.

Once you have gathered your answers and conquered your Viking challenge, all that's left to do is wind your way home. Don't forget to upload your pictures on Facebook and Twitter, and enter the competition for the chance to win a luxury stay in the historic city.


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