BLACK and white have been the themes of February’s final two island fire festivals on Yell and Bressay.
Council roads inspector David Spence was transformed into the white-helmeted, hammer-wielding Viking warlord Thorstein Olafsson for the five day Cullivoe Up Helly Aa that culminated on Friday night with the galley burning.
During a break in the proceedings he explained he had based his suit design on that of his father Bruce who was Guizer Jarl 50 years ago.
This year the 41 year old went down the mythical route to choose a hammer, not a weapon of choice of the Vikings but of their thunder god Thor, who used his hammer Mjölnir to fell mountains, amongst other things.
Spence felt the weight of his own shot-blasted aluminium hammer as he toured the isle with his 14 strong squad.
They spent two days covering Yell from south to north, followed by a procession, a galley burning, a party, a hop and a charity “hairstyling” – a series of events lasting from Wednesday night to Sunday afternoon.
The hammer was designed by his “chief engineer” Brydon Barclay from Unst, who also shaped the halberds carried by the squad and the cold-moulded plastic helmets that gave the band of warriors a distinctly modern appearance, along with the white leather straps.
“I always fancied wearing dark clothes with white leather and it looks really good, especially with this fine weather we’re having,” Spence said.
Meanwhile on Bressay young Guizer Jarl Lyall Tulloch stepped out with his squad of 19 to meet the local school bairns in the hall and the old folk in their sheltered houses before two nights of partying in the local hall.
The 25 year old naturally assumed the name Harald Fairhair for the day, setting off his own blonde locks against a silver and black outfit topped with crow’s wings on the helmets and a black sheepskin on the back to reflect his crofting lifestyle.
The self employed joiner kept a low profile earlier this year when his beard barred him from serving as a retained fireman, but that will be no problem after Sunday when the squad will shave their beards off for charity.
First though came the burning, not of the galley Nordus (Norse for northern woman) which has graced the event for the past 50 years, but an old boat that has no use any more and was topped and tailed with dragon’s features for the occasion.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 400 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News