Exploring York’s famous Viking heritage is a year-long adventure for participants at Help for Heroes at Catterick Garrison, alongside staff from York Archaeological Trust (YAT). This project takes place at Phoenix House, the Recovery Centre for wounded, injured and sick personnel of the British Armed Forces and their loved ones.
The journey began with the idea to create a full-size replica of a Viking ship, employing the talents of the many volunteers in the Woodshop at the Recovery Centre.
From this ambitious plan the idea grew to record and celebrate the creation of the Phoenix House ship with an exhibition to be shown at YAT’s YourDIG space at DIG: An Archaeological Adventure in York. The exhibition not only explores how the boat was made, but the context of Viking travel and trade, along with the participants’ own journey; what have individuals discovered along the way, and what has the process of exploring and creating new Viking interpretations meant to them?
To uncover more about the Viking story participants have been exploring objects from the York Archaeological Trust collection, including precious amber, worked antler, and pottery that travelled along Europe’s river systems and across the sea to reach the ancient city of Jorvik. Participants worked with curatorial staff from YAT to co-produce panel texts and object labels for the exhibition, and have produced new artworks including poetry, fine art, songs and stories.
In the sessions participants have been talking a lot about journeys: the journey of an object, the journey of the Vikings and their individual journeys on the project. This innovative participatory practice invites everyone to be involved and have a voice in authoring the Viking story; as one participant says, ‘History becomes new again.’