York is a superior destination which offers vivid glimpses into a past that is dominated by occupiers like the Romans and the Vikings. Perhaps the best museum in town to see that past is in a traditional, non-traditional museum in Yorkshire, England’s largest county, which is focused on its past. The Yorkshire Museum is in a 19th century Greek-style building in a park containing ruins. When Ruth and I were there that park was the scene of a Roman Festival. While I was in the museum looking at the statue of Mars below, the men and women of York were dressed as Romans and the men were starting to march around that park in an effort to re-create Roman times when York was called Eboracum
The Yorkshire Museum is on 3 levels. The middle one is now largely devoted to 2 subjects, Roman York and and Yorkshire’s Jurassic World. London’s British Museum helped create the Roman part of the Yorkshire Museum. Both of these exhibits are interesting because they don’t focus on the expected. The statue of Mars, for example, is a white-starred, well-preserved, mostly complete statue that actually graced Eboracum in Roman times. It was close to the Overton Hoard near this museum’s entrance. This hoard contained 37 Roman silver coins in mint condition that were found near York in the village of Overton in 2016 and acquired for this museum’s coin collection 2 years later. The Yorkshire Museum’s treasures have grown to more than a million objects.
An available map lists Star Objects, 12 things really worth seeing that are given white stars and are easy to find. Upstairs, where the focus is on Yorkshire’s prehistoric people and its rocks, are the 1st complete geological map of the area created in 1815 and the Towton Torcs. In the basement are 4 white starred objects including the Escrick ring and the Middleham Jewel, an outstanding example of medieval jewelry found near Middleham Castle, Richard the Third’s home.
The dinosaurs on display in Jurassic World were not predictable. Below is a pteranodon, an active cannibal/hunter of small prey. Its name means “winged and toothless”. The first pteranodon skull was found in Kansas. The Roman displays on the same level talked about the lives ordinary citizens, not about emperors. This part of the museum was opened by famous Sir David Attenborough, who called Yorkshire an excellent museum with marvelous objects.
After looking for the Copperplate Helmet, a rare Viking piece that’s more than 1,000 years old in the basement, I went to join Ruth for the Roman festivities. Viking York lasted from 866 until 1066, the year of the Norman Invasion. While looking at artifacts, I found my 2 favorite Viking names, Ivar the Boneless and Eric Bloodaxe. I never found the helmet that a travel book said was here, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Viking section and I found the other coin collection seen below, the Wold Newton Hoard. It was located in 2014 by someone using a metal detector who was about to get a big surprise. As I exited, Ruth was talking to a man dressed as a Roman centurion who was about to lead a parade through the streets of York.