Day 8: York – Free Day and Tea Day!

Guest post by Wendy White.

Today we were free to roam and explore all that York has to offer. Several of us visited the Jorvik Viking Center and learned about the discoveries in York that provide insights into the lives of Vikings in this area from approximately AD 800 to 1050.

The Vikings ventured forth, exploring many parts of the world, from what is today known as Scandinavia. Their mastery of the art of shipbuilding enabled them to travel to many far away lands. There is even evidence they acquired items from the Middle and Far East.

Viking Coin Maker

Silver coins were the money Vikings used and were very valuable. A farmer might earn one silver piece for a month’s work. Coins were quartered into smaller pieces when a whole coin wasn’t needed and these fourths of a coin became known as farthings from the word fourthing.

We watched as a reenactor struck coins using silver blanks, harder metal coin stamping dies and a heavy hammer to demonstrate how coins were produced by Viking coin makers. He also explained how counterfeiters of the era would apply a layer of tin to a less valuable stamped metal to try to duplicate the silver coins.

Viking Coin
Enlargement of a viking coin

This enlargement of a Viking coin shows the Christian and Pagan presence in the Viking Era. “Saint Peter” can be seen at the top of the coin while “Thor” and his hammer appear on the lower portion of the coin.

The shambles market, where you can see how the buildings purposefully lean in towards each other.

Some in our group returned to the Shambles Market. As you learned yesterday in this blog Shambles Market was home to many butchers. When the butchers threw the cast-offs (scraps, entrails, and other discarded animal parts) from their butchery in the streets it is reported that the smell was horrible as the flesh rotted where it landed. The tilted buildings are thought to have kept the street cooler by blocking the sun and somewhat reducing the fetid conditions.

Among the many interesting shops in the old buildings that tilt in and overhang the street is the heavily patronized The Shop That Must Not Be Named, featuring the ever-popular Harry Potter merchandise. The queue was long but many persevered!

The queue for the Harry Potter themed shop

Later in the day the group reconvened for an English Afternoon Tea at the Grand York Hotel.

A lovely tea list provided many fine choices with coffee or hot chocolate as additional options. The sandwiches and savory items were a great start as we worked our way up the tri-level serving tray. Everyone enjoyed the requisite scones and clotted cream and the desserts atop were delightful. The three tiers of yumminess kept us busy for a good while!

The menu for our afternoon tea at the Grand York Hotel and Spa

York’s two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss, provide ample opportunities for exploration aboard one of the many ships which provide cruises. The cruise provided new views and the opportunity to see the city in a different way.

Foss River
Foss River
Lendal Bridge
Lendal Bridge
The Millenium Bridge
The Millenium Bridge
Rive cruise!
Rive cruise!

Everywhere one looks there are wonderful old structures that remind the viewer of the many centuries of history that have unfolded in York.

A day well spent as we prepare for tomorrow’s visit to York Minster cathedral and its library!

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