THE York charity which saw the city make headlines around the world when it launched the Coppergate dig and opened the Jorvik Viking Museum is to celebrate its 50th birthday with a gala dinner - and a new book.

TV historian Michael Wood will be the guest speaker at a special dinner in September to mark the York Archaeological Trust's first half century.

A new book - '50 years of York Archaeological Trust', by the organisation's founding member and former director Dr Peter Addyman - will be published at the same time.

The Trust was formed in October 1972 to 'help preserve the vast collection of archaeological deposits that lay beneath the ground in York'.

It has since led archaeological digs across the city, as well as opening attractions such as DIG and Barley Hall.

But it was the Coppergate dig of 1976-1981, and the subsequent opening of the Jorvik Viking Museum in 1984, which saw it win international attention.

York Press: Picture: York Archaeological Trust

The museum, with its animatronic residents, time cars and recreated street scenes from Viking York, stunned the world. It has since been visited by nearly 20 million people - and has inspired other museums around the world.

Today, the Trust has almost come full circle from those early days, said its chief executive David Jennings.

"The Coppergate dig was the one that really propelled the Trust onto the international stage, as we unearthed remarkably well-preserved remains of Viking-age York which inspired Jorvik Viking Centre," he said. "Nearly 50 years later, we hope we’ll be unearthing finds from the Roman period which will help populate a world-class Roman visitor attraction.”

Dr Addyman's new book about the history of the Trust will look back at the Coppergate dig and the opening of Jorvik - as well as at all the Trust's other digs and activities over the last 50 years.

Writing it has been a 'wonderful ride through time', Dr Addyman said.

"What a journey it has been! The Viking dig and the creation of the Jorvik Viking Centre took York's archaeology to a new plane.

York Press: Prince Charles at the Jorvik Centre with Mr Peter Addyman..

“I have re-visited hundreds of excavations, re-living important discoveries about Roman, Anglian, Viking, medieval and later York. I have marvelled again at great treasures from the digs, like the spectacular York Helmet. I have called to mind the thousands of people, many on the Trust's staff, but many more as volunteers and friends of the Trust, whose labours and skills made it all possible.”

The book will be launched on September 30, when Dr Addyman will be guest of honour at the gala dinner at York Merchant Adventurer’s Hall. TV historian Michael Wood will be guest speaker.

The fundraising evening will include a four-course dinner - plus the chance to handle some of the artefacts the Trust has unearthed over the last half century.

Proceeds will go to Archaeology on Prescription - a project to get more York people involved in archaeology.

Tickets for the dinner, priced £125, can be booked at