"I've started, so I'll finish." Those are the words most people will associate with Magnus Magnusson, who has died, aged 77.

But the people of York will also remember the former Mastermind question master for opening the city's £2.6 million Jorvik Viking Centre 23 years ago.

Some may recall that the TV presenter provided the original commentary for visitors to the centre, as they travelled through the re-created Viking settlement in electronic time cars.

The Viking scholar was also chairman of the stewards of York Archaeological Trust (YAT).

The trust's work helped to create the Jorvik Centre, which was opened in April 1984.

Dr Peter Addyman, former director of the trust, said: "If it hadn't been for Magnus, we wouldn't have the centre and we wouldn't have all the archaeological work he has done in York either - what a contribution to the city."

Dr Addyman, 67, of Bootham, said: "Magnus never let us down - he was a huge help to the YAT when we were doing the excavations and finding the heart of Viking York.

"He was instrumental in raising funds for the dig."

Magnus headed the special development campaign (SDC) - a vital stepping stone to the building of the centre - which secured money for the excavation of the site and attracted royal patrons in four countries.

That work meant the queen of Denmark, the president of Iceland, the crown prince of Norway, the king of Sweden and the Prince of Wales all threw their weight behind the project.

As part of the campaign, Magnus and Dr Addyman travelled to Minneapolis - the home of many second- generation Scandinavians - to try to raise funds.

Dr Addyman said: "Magnus was wonderful at leading people the way he wanted them to go - he was wonderful at charming them. I look back on some wonderful times with him - I feel I've lost an incredibly good friend, and so has York. Of course, he could be irritable as well if he did not get his way - when the ban on smoking on planes arrived, he was extremely grumpy!"

He added: "He was a great scholar too - I always felt he was somebody who knew far more about history than I ever did."

Dr Addyman said that Magnus was absolutely delighted when the centre became such a success. Magnus died at his home near Glasgow after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October.

  • If you have a memory of Magnus, or a thought you would like others to read at this time please use our comments facility.