Shetland Museum celebrates Lerwick Up Helly Aa 2024
The Shetland Museum & Archives was full of activity last week as we celebrated Lerwick Up Helly Aa with a series of fiery events and extended opening times.
Our programme kicked off with a brilliant lecture from Linda Riddell titled 'Exit the Viking?’ which explored the attitudes to war and Vikings in Shetland in the early 1920s. Linda discussed the civic seriousness of the war memorial campaign, followed by the recreation and fun at Up Helly Aa a fortnight later. We had an excellent audience in attendance brimming with questions and discussion. A great start to the week.
The following day we organised a fun-filled morning for pre-schoolers, together we made paper helmets, shields and torches and held our own mini procession through the galleries, led by local musician Trevor Jamieson.
We also ran our Origins of Up Helly Aa tours throughout the week which were very popular with visitors. There was a lot of interest in learning more about the history of the festival and how it has evolved into the format we recognise today.
Tuesday 30th January - Up Helly Aa day is always a busy one at the museum and this year was no exception – we welcomed three school groups throughout the morning who enjoyed our Viking crafts and learnt about Viking artefacts with Jenny our curator of collections. We also ran tours and were delighted to have the Junior Squad’s peerie galley on display at Hay’s Dock.
There was a lovely buzz around the building throughout the day, and it was great to see visitors and locals of all ages enjoying Up Helly Aa at the museum.
The highlight of the day was of course the visit from this year’s Jarl, Richard Moar and his squad. They sang their UHA songs and took the time to chat with locals and visitors alike showing off the craftmanship of their outfits, shields and helmets.
The day was rounded off in style as some of the Jarl Squad lit their torches and gave us a beautiful fiery display at Hay’s Dock.
We also continued the Viking theme online, sharing interesting content throughout the week from the Shetland Archives and the Museum's Collection...
Viking mitten: A fragment of Viking Norse life in Foula. Read textiles curator, Carol Christiansen’s blog, which tells us more about this fascinating and important fragment of cloth which is now part of the Shetland Museum’s collection.
- The images of Up Helly Aa go like this – the burning longship, arms and armour, and bearded men. Read archives assistant, Angus Johnson’s blog, which tells us more about Attie’s bearded squad and how they changed Up Helly Aa.
- Viking Brooch - video. Join our Curator of Collections, Jenny Murray as she shares the fascinating story of a Viking Age brooch that was found in Fetlar in 2002 by Channel 4's Time Team - discovered during their excavations of a mound which to their surprise uncovered the burial site of a Viking woman of high status.