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Viking cities of York and Dublin join forces

Posted on 21 October 2020

A University of York archaeologist is leading a major interdisciplinary project to explore the linked Viking history between York and Dublin.

A gold Viking-Age arm ring from near York, to symbolise the interconnectedness of York and Dublin

The project, led by Dr Steven Ashby at the University of York, and Dr Stephen Harrison at the University of Glasgow, will develop new collaborations between academics and heritage professionals with a view to consolidating current research and expanding our knowledge of the shared Viking heritage.

Viking colonial centres

Dyflin and Jórvik - as Dublin and York were known during Viking times - each experienced enormous change during their time as Viking colonial centres in the late 9th and early 10th century. The cities were closely linked during the late 9th and early 10th century when they were ruled over by the same family.

Today as modern urban centres, they share challenges in managing their exceptionally well-preserved archaeological deposits, disseminating new research, and presenting information to the public.

Interdisciplinary network

Dr Ashby said: “The links between the two cities are incredible and it’s exciting to develop an interdisciplinary network of scholars and heritage professionals with this shared interest. 

“Dublin and York are by far the best-documented and best-excavated urban centres in the Viking West and are of exceptional international importance. The towns hold vital resources for archaeologists and heritage professionals alike. However, with some important exceptions, communication and collaboration between specialists and practitioners, and between the two modern cities, has been limited

Top specialists

“This project will allow us to unite the top specialists in the field to bring the data together, compare results, and develop a strategy for future work. Our belief is that a focused study of York and Dublin in-tandem will significantly improve our understanding of both cities, and of their relationship in the Viking past. This can then be used to inform the ways in which their archaeology and history may be communicated to the public."

Claire MacRae, Archaeologist for City of York Council said: “From a heritage management point of view I am looking forward to a useful exchange of information/ideas between York and Dublin City Councils on our approaches to sensitive archaeological deposits found in both cities, and the dissemination of information within a planning context. The project will establish a new working relationship across many organisations which will also be beneficial for future research, outreach and collaboration.“

The Universities of Glasgow and York will host a series of workshops in 2021 to share their findings. They will be joined by key project partners: Dublin City Council (represented by Dr Ruth Johnson, City Archaeologist), the National University of Ireland (Historian Dr Emer Purcell); City of York Council (Claire MacRae, City Archaeologist); York Archaeological Trust (Dr Chris Tuckley, Head of Interpretation and Engagement) and York Museums Trust (Dr Andrew Woods, Senior Curator).