40 years of Viking Archaeology in York

Posted on 25 March 2014

Recent conference celebrates life and work of Dr Richard Hall

25-03-2014 Viking Conference

On Friday 21st March, Viking scholars from across Northern Europe gathered in the Department for a joint conference with York Archaeological Trust to celebrate the life and work of Dr Richard Hall. Richard was an internationally-renowned Vikings expert responsible for excavating Coppergate, and for the creation, together with Dr Peter Addyman, of the famous JORVIK centre. 

The highlight of the conference was the presentation and publication of the final Coppergate volume, by Richard's colleague and wife, Dr Ailsa Mainman. New insights into YAT's latest Viking excavation at Hungate were also provided (by YAT colleague Pete Connelly), as well as work at York Minster (by Ian Milsted) and Ripon (by Dr Mark Whyman). On Saturday night, delegates were welcomed by David Jennings, Chief Executive of YAT to a behind-the-scenes tour and reception at JORVIK. 

The keynote address of the conference, on Viking Age Scandinavia was given by Professor Dagfinn Skre (Oslo), whilst a series of fascinating papers by Dr Gareth Williams curator of the British Museum's current Vikings – Life and Legend exhibition, Professor Dawn Hadley (Sheffield) and Professor Julian Richards (York) on Torksey and Professor Neil Price (Aberdeen) explored the identity of the Great Viking Army, and the evidence of its winter encampments. Innovative ideas about Viking trade and artefact studies were provided by Soren Sindbaek (Aarhus) and Steve Ashby (York). New interpretations of well-established Viking sites such as the Earl's Bu, Orphir, Orkney, as well as recent discoveries in Ardnamurchan were presented by Dr Colleen Batey (Glasgow) and Dr Hannah Cobb (Manchester). In keeping with Richard's encouragement of younger scholars, papers were also read by up and coming Vikings PhD students Nela Scholma-Mason and Alison Leonard (York). 

Professor Julian Richards, co-organiser of the conference noted that "The conference was a reflection of the high esteem in which Richard was held by Viking scholars, and of the level of public interest and enthusiasm for Viking research, which continues to be at the forefront of research and public engagement in York."

Dr Ailsa Mainman commented that “Richard would have thoroughly enjoyed seeing friends and colleagues, some, like Dr Pat Wallace (former Director of the National Museum of Ireland) whose career had mirrored his own with the excavations at Wood Quay, Dublin and former students whose interest in Vikings was kindled by the discoveries at Coppergate. He was definitely there in spirit cheering us all on.”

Copies of 'Anglo-Scandinavian occupation at 16-22 Coppergate: Defining a townscape' by Dr R A Hall, with D T Evans, K Hunter-Mann and Dr A Mainman can be purchased directly from York Archaeological Trust: http://www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk/resources/pubs.htm

Further details of the Torksey project can be found here: https://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/research/current-projects/torksey/