Jarl Squad - A Shetland Viking Squad
The Viking past of Shetland is still very much alive. The winter celebrations of Up Helly Aa bring the Viking ancestry of the islands to life.
Jarl Squad are the largest of the squads on the islands. Their costumes unique and changed each year. With sky blue tunics and deeply engraved shields they really are an amazing sight.
They also have a galley, a closely guarded secret designed each year and made by craftsmen. This is drawn through the town centre before being set alight in the festival at the end of January.
Originally tar-barrelling and torch processions, the celebrations have evolved to the burning of a viking longship at the end of the yule period amid much partying and merryment.
But Jarl Squad are not just for winter shenanigans. They come out in the summer and lead the Lerwick Carnival. Almost as impressive in summer. Many of the winter beards have gone and there is no burning of the galley, just a discrete roll away when the procession is over. However, to see and hear this group together it is still a spine tingler.
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