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Digital Subscriptions > iScot Magazine > March 2017 > Monumental to Macro

Monumental to Macro

iScot examines Up Helly Aa’s evolution from Victorian hellraiser to Viking wannabe, and finds locals have an axe to grind…

Shetlanders do not like being put in a box. Not by cartologists, who tend to squeeze the Northern Isles into a peerie (1) square just off Scotland, when it is actually closer to Norway. Not by historians, who still debate whether Vikings wiped out Shetland’s Pictish natives or assimilated them. Not by political pundits, for Shetland is a law unto itself; and never more so than during their annual fire festival, Up Helly Aa. This unique spectacle claims Viking connections, but in truth was forged in Victorian times; to this day it retains a “no-women” rule hotly debated by islanders.

Scotland’s rich Viking legacy is nowhere more visible than in the Northern Isles, which were under Norse rule between the 9th and 15th centuries. 29.2% of Shetland’s men have some Viking DNA; the Old Norn language, descended from the Norse tongue, still dominates the place names, surnames and local dialect. Remnants of Viking structures are dotted around the island; experts believe more sit unmarked beneath the peaty soil.

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About iScot Magazine

iScot Magazine March 2017 116 quality pages from THE ONLY TRULY INDEPENDENT PRO SCOTTISH MAGAZINE PUBLISHER HQ'd IN SCOTLAND. "The one with the Up Helly Aa front cover" Featuring the best writers in Scotland today Robbie Dinwoodie, Tom Morton, Derek Bateman, Wee Ginger Dug, Jennifer Harper, Grousebeater, Major Bloodnok, Zoe Weir, Vivien Martin, Dave Bowman, Mary Edward, David McVey, Alyn Smith MEP, Peter A Bell, Dr Steve McCabe, Dr Jamie Reid Baxter, Delia Forrest, Ann MacKinnon, Indy Lawyer, Fiona Nicholson and Jason Michael McCann
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