The Vikings captured the northern English city of York in 866. Once the Roman stronghold of Eboracum, and later the capital of the English kingdom of Northumbria, it became Viking 'Jorvik'. Viking farmers settled on land around the city.
Archaeologists have dug up the remains of Viking homes in an area of modern York known as Coppergate. From these finds, we know that the Viking city was busy - and probably dirty, with smoky houses, smelly workshops and farm animals all crowded together. As many as 15,000 people may have lived in Jorvik.
Skilled craftworkers in Jorvik made things that Vikings needed. A family could buy a cooking pot, a pair of shoes, a new padlock for the family store-chest, or a brooch. Woodworkers and leatherworkers were busy making plates, cups, belts and shoes. Jewellers made rings and brooches from amber, silver, gold, jet and copper. Potters baked clay pots in kilns (ovens), heated by wood fires. Pots were used for cooking and storing food. Most cups and plates were made from wood or from soapstone, a soft stone from Scandinavia.
What did a blacksmith make?
Blacksmiths sweated over fires, hammering red-hot iron. They made iron tools, knives and swords. To make a sword, the smith twisted and hammered iron rods until he had made a gleaming, sharp-edged blade. A good sword would not snap in battle.
Viking smiths also made iron nails, rivets to hold a ship together, spurs for horse-riding, locks and keys, arrowheads and belt buckles. Smiths travelled from village to village, repairing tools and cooking pans. Kings and chieftains had their own smiths. Many people thought smiths were wizards, making magic out of smoke and flames.
Going to market
To reach Jorvik, traders travelled overland or in boats along rivers. Farmers brought in grain, vegetables and animals to sell. Some travellers came from Dublin in Ireland. Others came from Scandinavia. Traders visited other markets, such as those at Hedeby in Denmark, Birka in Sweden and Kaupang in Norway.
At the market, you could buy anything from amber beads and apples to walrus tusks and wolf-skins. Archaeologists at Jorvik found a cowrie shell (a kind of sea snail). It must have come from the Red Sea, in the Middle East.