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Community / Jarl’s squad will be raven around on their big day at Northmavine

Northmavine jarl Fraser Anderson with his galley going up in flames on a windy February night. All photos: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

NORTHMAVINE Up Helly Aa guizer jarl Fraser Anderson is urging everyone to “have a good weekend and do not feel too bad the next day” prior to today’s fire festival.

The North Roe based crofter is playing the part of Vidor Odinson, as he leads his squad of 51 guizers and 11 bairns on the fiery path through Northmavine.

Odinson was, well, son of Odin, and was a quiet fellow who, according to Norse legend, avenged his father by killing the fierce wolf Fenrir after Fenrir had killed Odin himself.

Wolves and ravens play a big part in the jarl’s squad costume this year.

The Vikings are clad in heavily worked purple and black leather breastplates to signify the colours of the raven. Each guizer also wears a black sheepskin with a dark blue cloak below it made from wool supplied by Jamieson’s Sandness Mill.

Friday night’s procession and burning.

Fraser’s own sheepskin is white with black tips, similar to the sheepskins worn by the youngsters, but the rest of their gear is the same as the other guizers.

Lorna Erikson made the kirtles and most of the rest of the costumes were made by the guizers themselves, though the black glass fibre helmets, which are decorated with stainless metalwork, were made by Keith Neill.

Each Viking also carry a shield adorned with designs intended to reflect various aspects of the squad, be it the Eshaness banks around the lighthouse or Odin’s face with his attendant wolves and ravens.

The Vikings are armed with ‘reaper spears’ while the jarl will brandish a sword befitting a rich Viking.

The youngest guizer of all is Kaytlyn, born on 11 January, who is the daughter of Fraser and partner Ashley Burgess. Kaytlyn will be taking some part in the festivities but Ashley will be too busy looking after the babe to take part herself.

“It has been a busy year what with expecting the baby, crofty work and Up Helly Aa,” said Fraser, who also works as a sparky’s mate at the Sullom Voe power station.

The jarl’s squad are representing Eshaness this year as the districts of Eshaness, North Roe, Hillswick, Ollaberry and Sullom take it turn about to supply the jarl’s squad.

This year’s galley name Corvus, again has a raven (corbie) link and is named after an old ship’s lifeboat that was rescued from the banks by Fraser’s grand uncle, who did her up in his shed and renamed and refloated her. That Corvus is believed to be in Yell now.

There are about 240 guizers taking part tonight with male, female and mixed squads.

The jarl’s squad is on its customary rounds today beginning with posting the bill head at the Booth in Hillswick before a tour of the schools starting with Hillswick at 9.30am before visiting Ollaberry and North Roe.

Dinner will be partaken at the St Magnus Bay Hotel before the entourage heads for the galley shed near the Eshaness junction and lighting up at the Hillswick Hall at 8pm before proceeding to the loch where Corvus will receive her ceremonial lighting up.

Thereafter the guizer jarl’s squad will visit Ollaberry Hall then North Roe before finishing up back at Hillswick.

“I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who gave us a hand over the year,” said Fraser.

Jarl Vidor Odinson (aka Fraser Anderson). Photos: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

The large jarl’s squad with 51 guizer and 11 bairns gather at the Booth in Hillswick for the traditional photo. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media