IF YOU want a ‘nice’ day out, York Dungeon probably isn’t the place to go.
But if you like being scared out of your wits, shocked and stunned, look no further. The York Dungeons has been one of Yorkshire’s popular attraction since it opened in 1986.
The Dungeons, situated in the heart of York, celebrates the gruesome history of the ancient city with a 70-minute tour that’s packed with effects, actor-led shows and creepy appearances.
The Dungeon operates on a tour basis, starting around every seven minutes and lasting between one and one-and-a- half hours. Visitors are led around a series of ‘shows’, which take inspiration from historical events and characters.
One of the shows is based on the the ill-fated but romanticised highwayman Dick Turpin, who was hung at York Castle for horse theft in 1739.
Other characters include Viking King Eric Bloodaxe, who was the favourite son of Herald Finehair. Herald Finehair is accredited in the Viking sagas - dramatic historical texts penned in the 10th - 13th centuries - with the unification of Norway. But Herald had 20 sons, and this meant that the land was not sufficient enough to provide much of an inheritance for the all of them, so Eric Bloodaxe set about murdering them all, gradually.
It’s this, historians believe, that led to him being christened the rather gruesome-sounding Eric Bloodaxe.
However, while ‘blood’ and ‘axe’ conjure up murderous imagery, it’s believed the ‘blood’ in his name refers to family, as in Latin his name is ‘ratris interfector,’ which means brother-killer.
Eric Bloodaxe’s connection with York is important - he was invited to rule the Viking city Jorvik but was forced out in 954. Today the nasty Viking lingers in the York Dungeons and torments visitors with his brutality.
Another of the Dungeon’s celebrities is Guy Fawkes who was born in York and plotted to bring down the English King and Parliament. The plot was foiled, and Guy Fawkes was arrested. But while he may be long dead, York Dungeons re-enacts the torture he underwent to make him give up the names of his conspirators.
York Dungeons weaves this fascinating history into a scary tour of dark chambers, where these historical characters seek revenge and tell their stories.
But it’s not all rooted in history. There are also the ghosts. York is one of Europe’s most haunted cities, so there is no shortage of them - certainly at the York Dungeons.
York Dungeons is constantly raiding York’s infinite seam of history for more events. This year it started its Execution: traitors of York tour, where visitors are plunged back to 1405, to witness a careless executioner as he shares his gory tales of executing people at Micklegate Bar, just round the corner from the York Dungeons. The Execution: Traitors of York features a 70-minute tour, actor led shows and strange special effects.
There is no end to the creepy, sinister and scary events at York Dungeons. Are you and your family brave enough to participate?
The York Dungeon opened in 1986.
The Dungeon raised concerns among York’s Christian community in 2004 when it opened its ‘Satan’s Grotto.’ One reverend is reported to have said that the attraction has potential to do ‘pastoral harm’ but the Dungeon responded by saying its grotto was all tongue-in-cheek and should not be taken seriously.
In 2007 the Dungeon was critcised again but this time for offering people with ASBOs free entry.
The Dungeons bases its ‘shows’ on historical tales from the city.
York is repouted to be one of the most haunted cities in Europe.
York’s historical characters include Dick Turpin, Guy Fawkes and Eric Bloodaxe.