Jorvik (York) as a Trading Centre

Under Roman then Anglian control, Eboracum/Eoforwic had some trading links with continental Europe. But the Vikings, through their travels and seagoing adventures, had extremely well-developed routes and contacts which they were able to use for selling and exchanging goods over a very wide area. Once it became Jorvik, the town’s prosperity and importance as a trading centre grew rapidly. An unknown writer described Jorvik in 1000 AD as “…..filled with the treasure of merchants, principally Danes”. This tells us that Jorvik was not only growing rich on trade, but also that it was the Vikings who were mainly involved in this. Many of the objects found by archaeologists at Jorvik show that trade extended well beyond northern England – and well beyond Britain too.

Trade goods

Finds from Anglo-Scandinavian Jorvik include bowls and vessels made from soapstone, a soft rock which can be easily shaped into useful household containers. The soapstone probably came from the Shetland Islands or Norway. There have been finds of jewellery and dress items which came from Scotland and Ireland; lava quernstones, pottery and cloth from the Rhine; cloth from the Netherlands; and special stones from Scandinavia for sharpening tools and weapons. Also from Scandinavia came clubmoss, which was used to make colour dyes for cloth. Even pieces of silk have been found and this material came from the eastern Mediterranean. A coin from what we now call Uzbekistan has been found. Amber was also brought to Jorvik to be worked. A cowrie shell is amongst the archaeological finds at Jorvik and this type of exotic sea shell can only have come from the Red Sea area, which shows how far the Viking trade routes reached.