Thor’s hammer brings Norse influence to York’s Festival of Angels

York’s Festival of Angels (14 & 15 December) has truly been touched by the gods this year, with an addition to the stunning ice sculptures featuring a huge hammer encased in a block of ice, guarded by a pair of Viking warriors, on Davygate.

The annual festival celebrates the northern winter with a sparkling display of over a dozen ice sculptures sponsored by local businesses. Sprinkled with the odd shower of snow – guaranteed! – this magical wonderland is a firm favourite with residents and visitors of all ages.

The hammer belongs to the Norse god, Thor, and is defrosting from its icy mount ahead of next year’s JORVIK Viking Festival. Thor’s hammer goes on display as the countdown to Ragnarok – the Norse apocalypse foretold to take place on 22 February 2014 – reaches 70 days.

The hammer that visitors will see has genuinely authentic Viking roots. It was made by JORVIK Viking Centre’s technical team from wood taken from the tree that stood at the heart of the Coppergate Shopping Centre until earlier this year, and has been painted silver to look metallic.

“Many of York’s older residents will remember the huge Coppergate archaeological dig in the late 1970s, which is when York Archaeological Trust’s team discovered the superbly preserved remains of Viking streets and houses,” explains festival director, Danielle Daglan. “The archaeological deposits included rich organic matter from the ninth century, so given that the roots of this tree will have penetrated down to this Viking level and beyond, it is likely that some of the Viking waste would have gradually made its way up into the tree over the decades.”

The ice block in which it is contained is carved with the JORVIK Viking Festival logo, and inscribed with #Ragnarok2014.

“From its origins in the Quarter around Grape Lane and Swinegate, it is testament to the festival’s success that Coppergate-based JORVIK Viking Centre is bringing its very welcome Norse-themed ice carving into the Festival of Angels, which is now in its 14thyear,” said Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism at City of York Council. “Festivals support the city’s economy and appeal, and this display continues the Norse theme that started with Illuminating York in October and will culminate in the 30thJORVIK Viking Festival next February.”

The theme for the 2014 JORVIK Viking Festival will be myths and legends, with appearances promised from Norse gods including Odin, Thor and Loki, as well as combat training to help participants prepare for Ragnarok, a search for a new JORVIK Hero in the strongman competition, and a host of other themed live events, from author talks and the retelling of legends to Scandinavian-inspired folk music, around the city.

For more information on the programme for the 2014 JORVIK Viking Festival, please visit


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