York announces world’s first ‘temporal twinning’
Whilst the twinning of two cities around the world is well established, the historic city of York has taken the concept of sharing cultures one step further, announcing the world’s first ‘temporal twinning’, where the modern city is twinned with its Norse predecessor, the Viking city of Jorvik.
“The whole idea of twinning cities was to promote better understanding between different cultures, and to build economic links between two locations. We’ve been doing this for the last 30 years with the Viking city that stood where York is today, with visitors coming to the modern city to learn about the Vikings,” comments Cllr Sonja Crisp, cabinet member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism at City of York Council, who has worked with experts from York Archaeological Trust to set up the twinning.
Interest in the Vikings has brought millions of visitors to the city, attracted not only by the recreation of a tenth-century cityscape at JORVIK Viking Centre – which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014 but also by the wealth of Norse antiquities on display within the city’s museums and attractions, and even including to the names and layouts of the streets in the city centre itself. ‘Coppergate’ derives from the Old Norse meaning ‘Street of the Cup Maker’, and street layouts in the city centre follow Viking property boundaries that date back 1000 years, when Jorvik was a thriving metropolis and hub of international trade- the Viking equivalent of modern Hong Kong.
“It seems strange to think how comparatively little residents and visitors knew of Viking-age York just 40-50 years ago. The Coppergate dig, from which the world-class discoveries revealed so much about day-to-day life in a Viking city thanks to detailed research lasting over 30 years by our own archaeologists, led to the establishment of JORVIK Viking Centre, which has now welcomed more than 17 million visitors since it opened in 1984,” comments Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for the York Archaeological Trust which owns the JORVIK Viking Centre.
One cultural legacy of both the archaeology and the attraction – one of the first in the world to immerse visitors in a completely different culture, with the sights, sounds and even smells of a bygone age – is that they continue to inspire children to become archaeologists and historians, and enthuse visitors about a race more commonly recognised for brutal pillaging than peaceful settlement and international trade.
“It seems fitting that, through this ‘temporal twinning’, York is recognising the cultural exchange that continues to take place. Once again, York’s Vikings are bringing us a world first!” adds Sarah.
The twinning will be marked by the installation of a new series of ‘Welcome to York – twinned with the Viking City of Jorvik’ signs on major roads into the city, alongside a host of new Viking-themed educational and outreach programmes co-ordinated by the JORVIK Group of Attractions.
Visitors to York will be able to meet ambassadors from Jorvik at next year’s JORVIK Viking Festival, which takes place from 14 – 22 February 2015 and is the largest celebration of Viking culture in the UK, regularly welcoming upwards of 40,000 visitors to the city. For more details, please visit www.jorvik-viking-festival.co.uk