RESIDENTS have the chance to find out how Vikings spent their free time when a city centre excavation site opens its doors.

As part of the Jorvik Viking Festival, York Archaeological Trust is offering public access to the Hungate excavation site, just off Stonebow, today and tomorrow.

The open days are free and everyone has the chance to examine artefacts dug up at the site which include 1,200-year-old Viking ice-skates made from bone.

It will show Roman, medieval and Viking finds, which reveal how people lived in the area.

Experts will be on hand to answer any questions.

The Hungate excavation is York's biggest in more than 25 years and has recently revealed the outlines of buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. The last open day attracted hundreds of visitors and the trust wants to share the site and findings with even more people.

Pete Connelly, Hungate excavations project director, said: "Hungate is such a rare and exciting excavation and we want as many people as possible to come and see archaeology in action."

The site is open from 10am to 3pm each day.

Today, Barley Hall was hosting a Viking market in which craftsmen and women will be selling their wares while the gruesome effects of warfare will be seen when Viking warriors in make-up give sessions to demonstrate the cuts, bruises and war wounds suffered by Viking warriors.

On the final day, tomorrow, a voyage out into the countryside is offered to give people a chance to see the countryside ravaged by the Viking raiders of the Humber and Ouse.

The coach trip will depart York city centre at 11am and will take visitors to see the ancient churches menaced by the Viking King Harald Hardrada. Sturdy footwear and outdoor clothing is essential. To book, phone 01904 615505.