We have found new and innovative ways of sharing our discoveries as well as through community outreach, training and education. Most success has been in sharing our research through our visitor attractions, lectures, publications and events.
The Coppergate Dig
One of our first excavations was under Lloyds bank near Coppergate in York. We found nine metres of archaeological layers which were moist and peaty, meaning organic layers could be preserved for a long time. When York city council proposed a major development, this gave us the opportunity to excavate an area of 1000 square metres through 2,000 years of history over five years.
In total 40,000 Viking-Age artefacts were excavated ranging from Viking houses, a coin die, ice skates and even a sock! After we realised the extent of these discoveries we started work on putting these remains on display. The result was the JORVIK Viking Centre which was built on the site of the original Coppergate dig. Since it opened to the public on the 14th of April 1984 it has welcomed over 20 million visitors from across the world.
Sharing Our Mission with the Public
Due to the phenomenal success of the JORVIK Viking Centre (which contributes £28 million to the local economy) we have been able to fund further work. We have taken our model of exploration and explanation to open three more city centre attractions in York. We also have multiple touring exhibitions to partner venues across Europe. Our four visitor attractions JORVIK Viking Centre, DIG, Barley Hall and the City Walls Experience at Micklegate Bar help bring history to life for thousands of guests a year. In July 2022, we opened the Barley Hall Coffee Shop adjacent to Barley Hall in York’s Coffee Yard.
York Archaeology works with local higher education institutions such as University of York, York St John University and York College. We have worked on archaeological projects aimed at sixth form students, undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as wider community-based initiatives. Our projects often incorporate opportunities for student and amateur archaeologist to get involved in excavations. We also have volunteering schemes enabling enthusiasts to work alongside researchers and archivists in post-dig research. In September 2021, we launched ‘Archaeology on Prescription’ which allows participants to improve their health and well-being through archaeology.
We receive no direct state grant or subsidy for our work. Instead we rely heavily on our commercial work, membership fees, donations as well as attraction visitors.
It is down to these funding streams that York Archaeology can exist and also build on these connected reasons: to discover and conserve the World’s heritage; explore and research what these discoveries tell us about our past; and present the findings in innovative and accessible experiences, for everyone’s enjoyment.
For more information on the work carried out by York Archaeology, visit our Social History page on our York Archaeology research site.
York Archaeological Trust is a registered Charity in England & Wales (No. 509060) and Scotland (SCO42846).