Jorvik had been the Roman fortress Eboracum some 700 years prior to 866AD when Danish Viking pastry Ivor the Boneless arrived to occupy the fuck out of it with his Great Heathen Horde. It is not known if Ivor was aware of the historical significance of his new acquisition; the place of anointment for Constantine the Great who would go on to make Christianity the foremost religion of the Roman Empire and thus changing the course of history perhaps more than any other human before or since. Paving the way for crusades, prosecution, Varg Vikernes, the Salvation Army, George W. Bush and all that shit. Perhaps this would have happened eventually regardless of old Constantine; this cult of Christ expanding and engulfing western culture. But this is how it did at least begin to happen. The jump-off point. And in a straight line roughly 2 minutes down the road from the Spread Eagle (out the door, to the right, toward that big castle thingy) is where.
At the time of the Danish invasion, this land was a part of the kingdom of Northumbria; Yorkshire not yet existing as a designated area, nor indeed, the namesake of a proper brew. Previous King of Northumbria, Aelle, had joined forces with Ivor to oust their common enemy Osbert, but with the city captured the Vikings soon turned viscously upon their temporary Saxon homies. Ivor was particularly fond of a delightfully brutal method of killing his captured enemies known as the blood eagle. This method consisted of carving an eagle into the victims back before separating the ribs from the spine, having them jut out of the back resembling a three-dimensional pair of bloody wings for the eagle, and extracting the lungs. Though apparently Aelle had previously thrown Ivor’s dad into a fucking snake-pit, so I’m not sure how he didn’t see this as on the cards at some point.
Another 700 years later, foolish Catholic bint Margaret Clitherow had taken to hiding other foolish Catholics in a little hole in her wall at a time when being a catholic was even more foolish than usual due to fat bastard King Henry VIII deciding that being a catholic wasn’t on so he could get rid of his missus and proceeding to persecute them up and down the country just for good measure. Old Maggie was taken from her home in the Shambles and tied down with a sharp stone beneath her spine and her own front door (which has since been replaced with a much nicer one by way of compensation) on her foolish catholic tits. Subsequently big heavy fuck-off rocks were piled upon the door until the sharp rock below her broke her spine and she lay crippled and twitching for a bit before dying entirely. After this her hand was chopped off by some hairy nuns and taken to the Bar Convent where it was preserved using wax and remains to this day, still being occasionally inserted into young nuns to cure infections of the hymen.
Not-quite-another 700 years later, Jorvik Underground began hosting gigs at the Spread Eagle on Walmgate; adding its own bizarre and gory contributions to the cities bizarre and gory history. A fitting place indeed to be visited by the nations blackest and deathest. Although this history seems mostly overlooked by the cities own bands, with a few exceptions being Sellsword and the now defunct Jorvik Thunder. There is a wealth of lyrical inspiration on every street. Even for young punk bands the city’s more recent socialist and industrial history could be informative of a legacy and inspiring in the shaping of a creed. Its a nice place and a weird place. Go look.
Originally published in Jorvik Underground Zine #4 – July 2015