Event Planning with Vikings

Posted on 4 September 2015

Internship with the JORVIK Group

Daniel Johnson
MA in Public History, 2015

The JORVIK Group is a household name in Northern England. Families and school groups come from all over to visit the archaeological museums and attractions such as the JORVIK Viking Centre and DIG. The group also holds some of the largest Viking and Medieval festivals in Europe each year. The JORVIK Group is the events and attractions face of the York Archaeological Trust, which is responsible for a number of high profile excavations in the Yorkshire area over the past 30 years. For my internship, I was able to see first hand what it takes to plan an event for one of the most well known organisations in the UK.

In the early stages of my internship, I was able to familiarise myself with the number of attractions and the scale of the group. I analysed what worked and what didn’t work at each location and also focussed on how visitors experience each location. After I had become familiar with the attractions and the educational mission of the JORVIK Group, I was charged with doing some research for the upcoming JORVIK Medieval Festival. My project partner and I researched Henry VIII and York for the Henry VII experience and the Henry VIII exhibition which would take place in a number of the JORVIK sites throughout town. Many ideas about future events and presentations came from this research.

The highlight of my internship was when I had the opportunity to don a medieval costume and participate in a JORVIK event in Nottingham. This event gave visitors to Nottingham Castle a chance to see what everyday life was like during medieval times and also have the opportunity to look in on an archaeological dig that was taking place on the site. The event taught a lot of people about archaeology and also was a great day out. Afterwards, I was asked to write a report on the pros and cons of the event and present them to the Festival and Events officer. This gave me the opportunity to have a critical eye on the event and offer suggestions for future events. It also gave me the opportunity to learn about how the organisation learns from each event and tries to improve in the future. This was great for me because I was able to learn about the politics and organisation of event planning and how to assess whether an event was successful.

The last part of the internship required me to research and plan a guided tour along the city walls from one JORVIK attraction to another, highlighting the medieval architecture and history of York visible from the walls. This gave me an opportunity to walk a familiar path with a new look on the city and I was able to peel away the archaeology of the city’s architecture to the medieval era. As an architecture fanatic, I enjoyed finding medieval buildings visible from the walls, and revealing the unique and interesting history of each one for others to learn about during the Medieval Festival.

I learned so much from my internship and had a great time. I gained valuable experience that I can add to my CV and learned that I would be happy to plan more events in the future. This internship was truly history in practice and I was able to use my knowledge as a public historian in this internship. I highly recommend this internship for future history postgrads.