York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshire Museum's Viking exhibition reveals invasion 'in large numbers'

Virtual reality scene of Viking boats on River Trent Image copyright Yorkshire Museum
Image caption A scene from a virtual reality project showing the sights and sounds of a Viking army camp

Viking invaders in the ninth century arrived in "larger numbers" than previously thought, according to new academic research.

Nordic conquerers set up a winter camp "larger than most contemporary towns" inhabited by "warriors, women and children", it is claimed.

A virtual version of the site, at Torksey, Lincolnshire, has been recreated for a new exhibition.

It is to open at the Yorkshire Museum on Friday.

Researchers at York and Sheffield universities said the camp would have existed at AD872-873.

Prof Dawn Hadley said Torksey was "a huge base", at least 55 hectares in size.

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The army chose Torksey, near the River Trent and 13km from Lincoln, as a suitable defensive and strategic position for their winter base, academics said.

As part of the exhibition, visitors can use a virtual reality mask to watch animations of camp inhabitants repairing ships on the shore, melting down stolen precious metals and playing games.

Image copyright Yorkshire Museum
Image caption The Vikings waited out the winter months preparing to conquer vast swathes of England, academics say

Prof Julian Richards, from York University's archaeology department, said: "These extraordinary images offer a fascinating snap shot of life at a time of great upheaval in Britain.

"The Vikings had previously often raided exposed coastal monasteries and returned to Scandinavia in winter, but in the later ninth century they came in larger numbers, and decided to stay. This sent a very clear message that they now planned not only to loot and raid - but to control and conquer."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Objects from the British Museum such as the ancient Lewis Chessmen, chess pieces made from walrus ivory

All the scenes are based on objects found by archaeologists and metal detectors at Torksey including more than 300 coins and 50 pieces of chopped up silver such as brooch fragments and ingot.

The exhibition also features objects from the British Museum including jewellery and coins from the hoards of Cuerdale, Vale of York Viking and Bedale.

It runs until 5 November before going on a UK tour.

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