View from the Top of Clifford's Tower, York, England

View from the Top of Clifford’s Tower, York, England

As we headed north from London to the Isle of Skye, we stopped to stay at a cute little cabin in an orchard just a few miles from the walled city of York.  The yard is full of rabbits and has ample room for the boys to run around and explore.  The cabin is nice but the WiFi runs at slow cell phone speed, which is really frustrating!  After checking in, we went for dinner at the town pub.  It was a friendly place with good food and a playground in the beer garden.

Orchard Lodge, York, England

Orchard Lodge, York, England

York has a long history that dates back to before the Romans occupied it in 71 AD.  Today York is a busy city with a lot of fun places to explore.

First, we visited the Medieval Norman Castle known as Clifford’s Tower.  It was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 to take control of the Viking town in York.  The castle served various purposes over the years, including castle, government office, gunpowder depot (oops, caught on fire in 1684!), jail, and in the 1800s it was overgrown with trees and bushes, and became a popular picnic spot.  It has some great views of York and the surrounding area.

Clifford's Tower, York, England

Clifford’s Tower, York, England

Next we went to the Jorvik Viking Centre, which includes a ride that takes you through a reconstruction of Jorvik (York) in 975 at a site known as Coppergate.  The excavation at Coppergate helped archeologists discover what the people ate, wore, traded, and how they built their homes.  They used this information to develop a Disney-like ride that takes you down a street in Coppergate to see how the Vikings lived.  The ride was fun and informative.  Did you know Vikings never wore horns?  The ride ends in a museum where you can see some of the artifacts that were found at the site and some skeletons too!

The next day we returned to try the second part of the exhibit: Jorvik Dig, which is in an 11th Century church named St Saviour.  A tour guide led us on an interactive tour of 4 replica excavation pits that we got to unearth ourselves with trowels. They are based on four major excavations:

  • Roman Eboracum, 71 AD
  • Viking Jorvik, 866 AD
  • Medieval, The Gilbertine Priory of St Andrew at Fishergate established in the 13th century
  • Victorian, Small terraced houses from the 19th century
Jorvik Dig, York, England

Jorvik Dig, York, England

They buried similar artifacts to what the Trust’s archaeologists found during that particular excavation.  Kids get to dig through the pits and see how the archaeologists work.  They get to hold old bones, pottery fragments and even coprolite!  We learned how the Vikings made glass: they softened the horn from a steer with heat and then molded it into flat rectangles.  Then they washed it with fermented human urine (their favorite cleaning liquid) which made it slightly opaque.  Gross but interesting!

Jorvik Viking Centre

£29.00 for a family of 5

£43.75 for a family of 5 if you want to go to Dig

Carousel, York, England

Carousel, York, England

After we did the Dig, we had lunch at a cute little café followed by a trip though the farmers market in the center of town, and a carousel ride, because you just can’t pass up a carousel sometimes!

Finally we enjoyed dinner at The Ebor Inn with our boys.  The staff was helpful and friendly, and it made for a great way to end a busy day.