IF I were a Viking, I would have been married for 14 years.

I would have wed whoever my parents told me to, had nine children and could have been divorced for not covering my hair.

If my husband had rolled his sleeves up or bared his hairy chest (before he died in battle and widowed me at 25), I could have divorced him instead.

So at 26, I've already got it much easier than my ancestors - well, that's if they were Vikings.

Today, Jorvik Viking Centre, in Coppergate, York, opened its new exhibition, Are You A Viking?

This interactive display helps visitors to trace their ancestry by studying archaeological evidence, migration and trading routes, and the development of language and dialects.

You can compare your diet, habits and lifestyle to those of the Vikings, trace the origin of your name and study food, bones and artefacts.

My first thought was that with my brown hair and eyes, I was about as far removed from the Vikings as you can get.

But Sarah Maltby, Jorvik's head of attractions, thinks we should not speak too soon.

In 2001, University College London took DNA samples from 2,000 men from 25 different places in Britain and compared the signatures on the Y Chromosomes to samples from Scandinavians.

The results showed that England and most of mainland Scotland is populated by people descended from Ancient Britons, Angles, Saxons and Danish Vikings.

The highest percentage of this DNA was found in the north and east of England, and the place with the highest percentage was York.

"There's a lot of interest nowadays in people's ancestry and people are very interested in finding out their family history, and we thought people would find it interesting if we took it back to the Vikings," said Sarah.

"One of the fun things we do is a computer game called Are You A Viking? It gives you choices such as what you like to eat. If you like fish, well that was one of the main staples in Vikings' diets.

"Also, if you know where your ancestors are from, you can work out whether the place was a Norse settlement. You can also trace the origins of surnames."

With the help of background imagery, visitors sail into Viking York on a long boat as the sun sets over the River Ouse.

You are met by a Viking trader, wall displays, barrels to test your senses of Viking touch and smell and a computer game to see whether your hair colour, clothes, and favourite foods suggest a link to the Vikings It's only a quick game, but it decides that with my brown hair, and taste for vegetable stew and man-made fibres, I'm nearly a true Viking. As it turns out, the Danish Vikings were generally regarded to have brown hair, so perhaps I'm one of them after all.

Much of the evidence unearthed in the Coppergate dig between 1979 and 1981 helped to create the display, says Sarah, and there are bones, teeth, clothes, and even a human stool from Viking age York.

Bork the Viking, who has set up shop by the river, filled me in on how I would have lived in the ninth century.

I would have married at 12 to someone chosen by my parents and had baby number one by the time I was 13. I would have had to learn my husband's trade, so I could take over when he was in battle, and had around nine children, although many would have died in infancy.

If I survived so much childbirth, I might live until my late 30s.

Matters would have been very different for my husband, however. He would have been taught how to use a saw or axe by the age of eight and played games specifically to learn battle tactics. He would have been allowed to fight when he was 12, married at 14 and probably have been dead by 25.

It was not all doom and gloom for the women, however.

"When you were married you would get one of these locks and keys," said Bork, brandishing a fierce-looking padlock. "You could lock your husband's things away and wear the key around your waist. He would have to ask you very, very nicely if he wanted anything."

Now, if only we could do that today.

Jorvik Viking Centre, in Coppergate, York, is open every day between 10am and 5pm. To book, phone 01904 543402.