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Virtual Viking Voyage

Welcome to our Virtual Viking Voyage. Meet Yrsa, a young Viking woman and explore her world. Answer questions along the way to find out all about Viking Lincolnshire.

Hello I am Yrsa, it means she-boar! My father came to England with Sweyn Forkbeard's army in the year 1002. The Saxon King Aethelred was a terrible Lord and he had many Danes living here murdered. My father came with King Sweyn's army to avenge them.

What was the Anglo-Saxon King Aethelred's nickname?

It is Christmas 1013 and Sweyn has declared himself King of England. He is the first Danish King here. He has set up his home in Gainsborough, which means it is now the capital of England!

Which building stands on ground where King Sweyn's fortification is believed to have been in Gainsborough?

King Sweyn has died, after just 40 days as King! We have decided to move to the town of Lincoln. My father is a skilled metalworker so he hopes to settle there and make his living.

On our way to Lincoln we stop in a place called Torksey. I spot something shiny on the ground and pick it up. It is a strange metal object, shaped like a hammer. My father tells me that it is Mjollnir – the great hammer of Thor.

He tells me stories of Thor and the other Gods. Many years ago a great army rested in Torksey over winter, he says. This hammer must have belonged to one of the warriors so I decide I had better leave it where it belongs just in case it brings me bad luck.

You might have heard of Thor too, who was his father?

We arrive at the walls of Lincoln. I have never seen such huge walls – father tells me these walls have stood for 1000 years. I think they must have been built by Thor himself! I can see there is a large river, teeming with ships carrying all kinds of goods. I can hear many different languages

Who do you think built these walls?

My father and I have a small wooden workshop with living quarters on Danesgate in Lincoln. My father makes small hooked tags from copper alloy. There are many other craftspeople working and living around here. Our neighbours make leaded glass rings, and further down the street is a comb maker. He makes combs from bone and antler.

What do you think hooked tags were used for?

I help my father with the metalworking but I am also an excellent spinner and weaver. Wool is the easiest and cheapest material to use – I spin it into yarn using my spindle and when I have many lengths of yarn I weave it into cloth on a wooden loom.

I make all of mine and my father's clothing this way. Flax can also be spun and woven to make linen – in fact, a close-by street is called Flaxengate, or 'Flax Street'!

Do you know where Byzantium was?

This silk headdress was traded in Byzantium and was discovered at Saltergate in Lincoln. The silk probably came from China originally. Experts believe that it was cut from the same silk bale as a similar one discovered in York!

One of the moneyers came to visit us last week, his name is Colgrim. Lincoln has its own mint, which means that the moneyers here can make silver pennies.

They are stamped using a coin die – this one belonged to Colgrim and made pennies with King Aethelred on them. We have a new King now, so Colgrim has a new die for stamping coins.

In 1016, Sweyn's son became king but do you know what his name was?

Lincoln is a busy place and we've been lucky to meet people from far and wide. We have a friend who came here from Latvia. He is a metalworker too and he very generously gifted me this beautiful comb-shaped pendant. He says it is decorated in 'ringerike' style.

This style of pendant is very rare in England. How many others do you think have been found in the whole of England?

Here in Lincoln there are many beautiful churches. I am fascinated by the Christian religion and recently I saw the most impressive man. His clothes were very lavish and he looked very busy. I heard that he has been sent by the Pope with important work to do here. I wonder what it could be?

This seal matrix was discovered at Hungate in Lincoln. It would have been used by the Pope's representative to create a wax impression that could be placed on important documents instead of a signature. It was proof that the owner was working on the Pope's behalf.

Can you guess what this seal matrix is made from?

This part of England is known as the 'Danelaw'. It means that we mostly follow Danish laws and customs here and it feels like a safe place for people like me and my father, who came from Denmark.

Lincoln is one of the 'five boroughs' of the Danelaw, towns that act as centres for law and trade. We often have a visiting friend from another of the five boroughs, Stamford, who stays with us whilst doing business.

If Lincoln and Stamford are two of the 'five boroughs', which were the other three?

Well, I ought to get back to helping father with the workshop but it was great to meet you and share some of my world with you, goodbye!

We hope you have enjoyed our virtual voyage around Viking Lincolnshire. The character Yrsa is fictional but the places and artefacts are real.

You could take a walk around some of the streets in Lincoln which still have their Viking names: Hungate, Saltergate, Flaxengate and Danesgate.

You could also visit The Collection museum where many of the artefacts discovered in these places are on display.

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