Viking women take centre stage for Jorvik festival

York’s annual Viking festival will tell the stories of Norse women through the voices of seers, queens and shield maidens (February 20-27).

Jorvik Viking Festival is the largest in Europe and attracted more than 63,000 visitors in February 2018 – generating £6.6 million for the local economy.

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for the festival organiser York Archaeological Trust, said: “For the last 35 years, the themes of Jorvik Viking Festival have enabled us to tell stories that encompass many different aspects of Viking history, from myths and legends to kings and warriors, and though women have taken key roles in many of the stories, this is the first time we’ve told all of the stories from a female perspective.

“We have some superb source material in the sagas, which enable us to tell stories of exploration, settlement, conquest, magic and nobility from the perspective of powerful women.”

Characters will include the seeress Thorbjorgr litilvolva; Sigrid the Haughty; Aud the Deep Minded; and Gunnhild Konungamodir – the wife of Eric Bloodaxe, the last Viking king in York. She manoeuvred her sons to positions of power in Scandinavia after Eric’s death.

Visitors will see a larger encampment in Parliament Street, and the main stage for displays will be in St Sampson’s Square to accommodate the growing crowds who come to watch the Best Beard and Strongest Viking Competitions (February 23).

Crowds are expected to line the city streets on February 23 for the parade of hundreds of warriors from York Minster to Coppergate, home of Jorvik Viking Centre.

Picture: Charlotte Graham/Jorvik Viking Festival.