Make a curious difference to National Anti-Boredom Month this July with a trip to York where one of the largest Coprolite ever found, the legacy of a Viking nobleman’s ivory horn and a Roman hair piece are sure to fire up the imagination of the most jaded individual.
‘York is home to many of the country’s most fascinating curiosities and rarest treasures, from Britain’s biggest Ichthyosaur fossil to possibly the oldest object on earth – the Middlesbrough Meteorite. When you see things like these and think about where they came from and what life was like back then it opens up your mind to seeing life – and history - in a fresh new way. Book a stay in York and we’ll guarantee you’ll never be bored,’ says Kate McMullen, Head of Visit York.
The Coprolite, otherwise known as fossilised human poo, is one of the JORVIK Viking Centre’s most valuable artefacts – from it archaeologists learnt what the Vikings ate, and what illnesses and parasites infested their bodies.
Also upping York’s curiosity factor is a pair of stockings for men with specially padded calves that form part of a new major exhibition of 18th century fashion at Fairfax House in Castlegate. ‘Head to Toe: Accessorising the Georgians’, which runs until 2 November features shoes, fans, hats, waistcoats, garters, stockings, buttons and gloves dating from 1700 to 1820, gathered from more than 20 museums across the country. The unusual stockings show that vanity and the pursuit of fashion was not for the female realm alone.
There’s nothing like a mystery to activate the little grey cells and when it comes to mystery there’s nothing like York’s internationally renowned Mystery Plays. York Mystery Plays on Waggons take place every four years, so 2014 sees the welcome return on 13 and 20 July. The open air performances hark back to the original spectacle of the medieval Corpus Christi Day festivities and take place in various locations across the city. They are all free and some have ticketed seating.
Finding out about the lives of the rich and powerful is always fascinating especially when they involve extraordinary stories of kings, Viking warriors and power-hungry Normans - and that’s exactly what visitors to the new Capital of the North Exhibition at The Yorkshire Museum will find this year. Featuring some of the most prestigious and significant medieval objects ever found in Britain, the exhibition tells how large areas of the country were once ruled from within York’s walls and how the worn-torn city went on to flourish in a golden age of innovation, religion and trade.
Of course, York has more than enough up its sleeve to surprise and delight visitors in search of something out-of-the-ordinary all year round. These are just the tip of York’s treasure trove:
• A Roman hairpiece from the late 3rd to early 4th centuries: this exceptionally rare hairpiece was discovered in York and probably belonged to a girl who was in her mid-teens when she died. It is a bun of auburn hair and was found with two jet hairpins in a stone coffin. It is so well preserved because the coffin was lined with lead and filled with gypsum. This basic hairstyle of a bun wound round at the back was a common style across the Roman Empire among the less fashion conscious from the 1st to the 5th century. It was particularly popular during the Christian period when it was the only female hairstyle to be approved of by the early Christian fathers. See it at the Yorkshire Museum.
• The Middlesbrough Meteorite: possibly the oldest artefact you’ll ever see. This amazing object exhibited at the Yorkshire Museum is around four and a half billion years old. It was formed at the same time as the earth as well as the solar system and is the only example of such a meteorite in the country outside of the Natural History Museum. The meteorite came to earth on March 14 1881. Workmen at a railway siding in Middlesbrough heard a 'rushing or roaring' sound overhead, followed by a thud, as they found the fossil buried in the embankment nearby.
• ‘Plain Mr. York, of York, Yorks’: this larger than life character is fully animatronic and the first promotional tool of its kind. He would have caused quite a stir at the exhibitions and events of the day! In the late 1920s, Mr. York was the driving force behind the success of Rowntree’s Plain York, York Milk and York Motoring Chocolate. His appearance in a six minute advert of 1929 is the first time in the world that animation had been synchronised with sound. Find out more about him at York’s CHOCOLATE Story.
• A lock of steam locomotive designer Robert Stephenson’s hair believed to have been taken at the time of his death in 1859. Robert Stephenson was the only son of railway innovator George Stephenson. The design principles of his trailblazing steam locomotive ‘Rocket’ were embodied in all subsequent steam locomotives. The lock of hair can be found at the National Railway Museum.
• A model train collection so big it’s in the Guinness book of records. JP Richards’s spent 55 years of his life making 610 model trains from scratch. He bequeathed them to the National Railway Museum on his death.
• The York Helmet: the most outstanding object of the Anglo-Saxon period to survive in Europe. Dated to approximately 750 to 775, this iron and brass helmet was discovered when struck by the claw of a mechanical digger – luckily the operator stopped to check what had been hit. See it at the Yorkshire Museum.
• One of the finest pieces of Gothic jewellery found in Britain – the Middleham Jewel and Ring. A member of the powerful Neville family whose home was at based at Middleham Castle may possibly have had this fantastic jewellery made by one of London’s famous goldsmiths. See it at the Yorkshire Museum.
Popular museums and visitor attractions in York include: York Minster, the National Railway Museum, the JORVIK Viking Centre, York’s CHOCOLATE Story, the Richard III Museum, York Castle Museum, the Yorkshire Air Museum, the York Army Museum, York Dungeon, the Bar Convent, the Treasurer’s House, Barley Hall, the Mansion House, Clifford’s Tower and the Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar.
To book your boredom-busting filled break to York visit www.visityork.org
When was the last time you had a first time? Discover York for the first time in 2014 – visit www.visityork.org/first and book your accommodation with Visit York for an exclusive 20% discount off a 3 day York Pass.
• Visit York is supported by the City of York Council and over 700 tourism businesses and works in partnership with VisitEngland.
• Visit York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure and business visitor, and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. Visit York is responsible for leisure and conference marketing, visitor services (running the city’s Visitor Information Centre), training and ensuring a quality visitor experience.
• Visit York is the driving force of the city’s tourism industry. Key facts: 7 million visitors annually, £606 million total visitor spend, supporting 20,000 jobs
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Kay Hyde - Head of PR & Corporate Communications
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