JORVIK's Vikings to return for new free exhibition at York Theatre Royal
Opens Saturday 21 May 2016
It takes more than a bit of water to keep the Vikings down, as the team from JORVIK Viking Centre will show on Saturday 21 May, with the opening of a free exhibition in the newly re-opened York Theatre Royal.
The exhibition is being hosted by York Theatre Royal in the Keregan Room, part of the 12th century undercroft of St Leonard’s Hospital, just off the brand new foyer – the first time that the space has been open to the public. The exhibition is the first of three planned for the year, whilst the team from York Archaeological Trust work on the rebuild and reimagining of the JORVIK Viking Centre itself. Entitled Jorvik: Life and Death, the new family-friendly exhibition explores the fascinating subject of Viking-age medicine and living conditions, including interactive displays, a soft play area for young children and the only complete female skeleton found during the original Coppergate archaeological dig. Scans of the skull have enabled archaeologists to create a computer-generated facsimile of the woman’s face.
Visitors will be able to try their hand at the medieval skill of Uroscopy, which involves diagnosing miscellaneous illnesses and ailments by examining the colour of urine as well as explore herbal cures offered by an apothecary at the time. The theme of the exhibition fits perfectly with the history of the theatre site, as the current building sits on top of the original St Leonard’s Hospital, which was founded shortly after the Viking period in 1137 and became the largest medieval hospital in Europe. The remains of the building were explored by York Archaeological Trust during the theatre’s major refurbishment works.
“We are incredibly grateful to the team at York Theatre Royal for inviting us to bring a taste of the Viking City into their building so soon after their own re-opening,” comments Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, which owns JORVIK Viking Centre. “The theatre team know only too well how important it is to continue working even when your own building is not in a suitable state – they did a magnificent job of staging shows in the temporary Signal Box Theatre – and this exhibition gives us the opportunity to do the same, bringing some of the stories and artefacts that visitors are accustomed to seeing in Coppergate into this different space.”
Liz Wilson, chief executive of York Theatre Royal, says, “We are extremely pleased to be able to offer Jorvik a home during their closure and we are looking forward to hosting what looks to be a fascinating exhibition. The theme ties in so well with the history of our own site, which was once the largest mediaeval hospital in Europe and we will be creating a brand new heritage centre in the Keregan Room to tell the incredibly interesting story of the site and the theatre’s past.”
Indeed, this is the first of three partnership exhibitions that the JORVIK team will be bringing to York this summer; an exhibition in St Mary’s Church, owned by York Museums Trust, next to JORVIK Viking Centre will open in June, and a display of some of Jorvik’s greatest treasures will feature in a special display in the Undercroft of York Minster from August.
“The Vikings have become synonymous with York over the last 35 years, and visitors regularly travel here from all corners of the globe to explore this intriguing 200 year period when the Norse invaders settled here. Work continues to rebuild, and fundraising under the Campaign Canute banner, to help us reimagine JORVIK Viking Centre in Coppergate, but we are confident that anyone looking to explore the city’s Norse heritage in the interim will not be disappointed. We take our duty to display these unique treasures and artefacts incredibly seriously, and it is a credit to our wonderful partners in the city that they are helping us in this goal,” adds Sarah.
Jorvik: Life and Death opens on Saturday 21 May 2016, and is open Monday to Saturday from 10.00am to 4.00pm. The exhibition is in the Kerrigan Room, is accessed from the York Theatre Royal entrance nearest Duncombe Place, and is free to enter. The exhibition will continue until early 2017, when the artefacts will be returned to JORVIK Viking Centre ahead of its spring re-opening.
For more information on the JORVIK special exhibitions, or indeed to donate to Campaign Canute, please visit www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk
For further media information or photographs, please contact:
Jay Commins, Pyper York Limited
Tel: 01904 500698