FLAMES from a giant wicker wolf lit up the night sky ahead of next weekend’s return of the Vikings to York’s Jorvik Viking Centre.
The 25ft tall wicker wolf, which represented Norse God Odin’s wolf companion Geri, was burned in a ceremony involving Vikings carrying flaming torches at Bustardthorpe Field in York.
The Jorvik Viking Centre, which has been closed since it was hit by the devastating 2015 Boxing Day floods, is set to reopen to the public at 10am on Saturday, April 8, after undergoing a £4m major redesign.
The wolf burning ceremony took place as the centre was handed back to York Archaeological Trust by RMA Themed Attractions, the company behind the re-imagining of the world-famous centre.
The opening weekend will see a host of Viking-themed entertainment taking place in Coppergate Square.
There will be Norse sagas and storytelling, skirmishes and have-a-go sessions for potential new Viking recruits starting from 9am on Saturday.
Live music, as well as some of the music created for the new galleries, will ring around Coppergate to get everyone in the Viking mood.
Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, said: “The wolf was used in Viking symbology to represent the hunter, which is entirely appropriate for the new Jorvik Viking Centre, as the first Viking character that visitors will see is a hunter heading back into the city with his dog as our visitors arrive in their time capsule.
“Wolves also put in an appearance in the visions conjured up by our storyteller later in the reconstruction of Viking-age Coppergate, when he tells the story of Ragnarok – the Viking apocalypse, as one of the guardians of the gates of Hel, Gromr, is recreated in the Skald’s fire.”
She added: “As a special treat, the first 100 sets of visitors to arrive on Saturday morning will be presented with a golden ticket for a special limited-edition coin set, which they will be able to collect from our resident Viking coin-striker.
“We can also announce that as all of the time slots for the opening weekend were booked, we have now opened up additional fast track tickets for people to pre-book their visit in advance, although we will have plenty of capacity for walk-up visitors throughout the weekend, with a packed programme of entertainment to keep them amused whilst they wait.” Go to www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk