Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From Vikings to Victorians

"On a cold spring morning in northwest England, on ground first contested more than a thousand years ago, a group of Viking warriors girded once again for battle.

They were oddly short, pink-cheeked Vikings, clad in sneakers, plastic breastplates and fleece jackets, and the broadswords they brandished toward the towers of York Minster were actually green Styrofoam noodles. Urged on by the battle cries of bloodthirsty parents, they were celebrating the first morning of the city's annual Viking Festival with a salute to their 9th-century ancestors' style of mayhem and pillage

Sheltered by Roman walls and crowned by the city's famous cathedral, York's handsome downtown is the tourist and shopping mecca. Topshop, a snazzy clothing chain, flaunts 21st-century fashions alongside Roman baths and museums. The medieval Shambles, a merchant lane mentioned in William the Conqueror's 1086 census, the Domesday Book, is still open for business. On this street, "family business" means living above the shop for 700 years. Honey-colored limestone squares festooned with red and white flowers (Wars of the Roses references are big here) offer a variety of scenes: young buskers in St. Helen's Square, a greengrocer in Kings Square, and in St. Sampson's Square, an introduction to the Viking past.

Vikings invaded from across the North Sea in 866 and stayed 200 years. As the conquerors married the conquered, the city became one of the largest in Europe (its current population is 181,000). Borrowing the Romans' city walls and plumbing, the Vikings built a wooden town along the river port. In 1976, while building a downtown shopping center, bulldozers unearthed the whole down-and-dirty town, then called Jorvik, buried below"

As my feet stepped into the Bootham Bar ( ' Barrier' ), which overlooks the north of the York city, I felt like I have been transported to the era 866 all over again. It is one of the entrance of the city walls originally made of wood, built by the Normans as a safeguard from attack. I walked along the city walls with the sight of the ancient York Minster till I arrived to the Monk Bar.

I entered the green garden, and my patience had taken its toll as I straightaway went on discovering the interior of York Minster. The building has sixteen main sections llike The Rose Window, The High Altar, Great East Window, Dragon's Head, The Roof Bosses and Shields, and others with treasury and crypt underneath it. Basically,many aspects of the Christian faith are depicted in the Minster but their symbolism can be hard to understand, which the Christians believe they were created to celebrate the glory of God. It is the largetst medieval gothic cathedral in northern Europe and took over 250 years to build. The first Minster is believed to have been built to mark the occasion of King Edwin, who was an Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria from 612 to 632, turning to Christianity following his marriage to a Christian princess from Kent. I grabbed the opportunity to climb up the top of Minster, exhausted but satisfied from the view over it seeing York and a certificate that certified my effort in climbing up the 275 steps of the Central Tower of York Minster.

After deep observation of the Minster, I walked along Museum Street till I arrived at Lendal Bridge to take a tour by boat along the River Oouse. The cruise took 40 minutes to reach South Esplanade and I passed by York Dungeon, had a quick chat with a 'gatekeeper' who was trying to scare off visitors with his white, pale make up and evil teeth.

A visit to Clifford's Tower traced back to the history of 1068, when William the Conqueror built the tower of wood but this was burnt down in 1190 when the cities Jewish population took refuge from persecution inside. Later in the 13th century, Henry III rebuilt it, and used the tower as the central keep of the castle. It is known as 'Clifford's Tower' because in 1322, Edward II had the rebel Lord Robert Clifford hanged in chains from the walls.

The sun set in York witnessed my sayonara to the town of ancient Roman, Norman, Anglo-Saxon, and Medieval English. Wacker's Fish & Chips was my meal for breaking my fast during the journey back. And till now, I am perplexed and trying to meet the end of these lines :

"Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up, A
About a prophecy, which says that 'G'
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Clarence comes"


Anonymous said...


selamat hari raya aidilfitri...=)

Mohd Sharazad Saiful Bahri said...

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to you too ;)

The absence of my favourite lemang and rendang ayam isolates myself when the day comes, where the sun is too shy to smile in this kingdom ;(

iedil said...

dude, bila aku tgk the title ingat citer pasal VI!! hahaha..anways, looking great with the blogsite (blogspace wutever u call it). hope ramadhan's treating you well. see u soon bro!!