Last week we carried a pair of photographs showing the visit to York in 1948 of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother).

We used them to illustrate a short piece about a souvenir programme of the visit kept for more than 70 years by Phillip Fowler. The programme was presented to The Press by Mr Fowler's widow Ena, who found it while going through her husband's things after he sadly died earlier this year.

Mr Fowler had kept a few more souvenirs too - including a 40-page Yorkshire Evening Press supplement printed in 1971 as a 'programme' for the York 1900 celebrations held all that year to mark 1900 years since the founding of Eboracum, or Roman York.

It was clearly a fairly spectacular year of entertainment, beginning with an opening ball on the first day of the year and ending with a re-enactment of the cremation of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who had based himself in York from 208 AD while pacifying the wild tribes north of Hadrian's wall and who died in the city in 211 AD.

Throughout 1971 there were musical performances, sports events, exhibitions, an Edwardian Fair and even festival of one-act plays to mark York's 1900th 'anniversary'. The highlight of the year, however, was the great historical pageant held in June and July.

The pageant re-enacted various scenes from the city's 1900-year history, from the coming of the Romans through Saxon, Norman and medieval periods right up to the Victorians, the comings of the railways - and the York Blitz.

The Evening Press' supplement carried a colourfully-written survey of 'York's 1900 years', subtitled: 'Centuries of violence and pageantry'.

"It is impossible to walk around the old parts of York without being conscious that many generations have walked here before," the piece declared.

York's story, it said, began in AD71 when the Roman governor of Britain Petilius Cerialis 'pushed forward from Lincoln with a Roman army, to find a site from which he could deal with the wild northern Brigantes. York was the idea site: two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss, converge here, and the V-shaped piece of land so enclosed made an admirable place for a fortress.

"This new outpost of empire was called Eboracum, and became a most important centre of Roman influence. A great fortress grew here, seat of the governor, and on occasion, of the Emperor himself. Severus died here, and was cremated on what is now Knavesmire, while Constantine was proclaimed Emperor of York in the year 305."

The Press reporter who wrote the history faithfully covered all the main events in York's history. But there was one glaring exception that seems very odd to a modern-day eye: there was almost no mention of the Vikings. The whole Viking period, in fact, was skipped over in just one paragraph, which covered the period after the Romans left. "The next 500 years were violent ones, with frequent wars against Scandinavian invaders," it said. The next paragraph moves right on to 1066, and the Battle of Stamford Bridge between King Harold of England and Harald Hardrada of Norway.

What? No mention of the Viking years and the great Viking city of Jorvik?

Well, no. And there's a good reason for that. Until 1972 - the year after the 1900 celebrations - very little was known of Viking York. There had, according to the Jorvik Viking Centre's website, been only the odd scattered Viking find before then. This changed in 1972, when small trenches below Lloyds Bank in Pavement were excavated, and archaeologists realised there were up to nine metres of archaeological layers mostly dating from the Viking Age.

The Coppergate Dig followed from 1976-81, transforming our understanding of Viking York, and Jorvik itself opened in 1984, telling the story of York and its Vikings in a totally new way to an astonished world. York, hitherto thought of as a Roman city, became suddenly a Viking city.

It has remained most famous for its Vikings ever since - although just possibly the new dig planned beneath Rougier Street next summer might start to tip the balance to the Romans again...

Stephen Lewis