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Clues on Viking Coins

Guthrun the Weaver's Story

My name is Guthrun.  I live in Jorvik, in Cupr-gade (now called Coppergate) which means the street of the cup makers. My husband makes the wooden cups and bowls that give the street its name.


A collection of wooden items showing various degrees of damage.  Bowls of different sizes, cups and spoons.
Woodworkers Products from Coppergate

Where Does Your Family Come From?

My husband’s family came from Denmark. His grandfather came in the great army of Halfdan the Dane who conquered this city. He settled near here, just outside the crumbling walls of the old Roman city and married a local woman. My husband’s father was the first to be well-known for his skill in making wooden cups and bowls.


Drawing of a pole lathe, with a V shaped treadle used to move the lathe.
Drawing of a Pole Lathe

What Work Do They Do?

We sell our cups and bowls for food, although we grow some too, and my husband hunts and fishes. As for me, there is no finer weaver in Jorvik. I learned my skills from my mother and grandmother. Our family was here long before the Vikings came. 

Illustration of a seated woman spinning yarn, with two standing women using a vertical loom
Illustration of Viking Era Textile Workers

How Do Children Learn Skills?

I teach my daughter how to weave and make garments and blankets using bone and iron needles. I leave her to do the fine work – my eyes are not so good these days. Her grandmother is teaching her to make socks in the old Scandinavian way with just one needle. Soon she will be more skilled than I!


Artefacts related to textile production in Viking-occupied York: fragments of excavated textile, iron needles, a slick-stone, fragments of clay loomweights, a bone pin-beater, shears, spindle-whorls, teasels.
Textile Production Tools

Discussion Questions

  • How does this Viking family get its food?
  • How many people work in the household?
  • Is the family Anglo-Saxon or Viking or something different?
  • Why do you think it might have been important to have a skill in Viking York?