Arrow-bearing Vikings look sharp

Keith Lobban from Gulberwick is the Guizer Jarl for today's South Mainland Up-Helly-A'. Photo: Kevin Osborn

Keith Lobban from Gulberwick is the Guizer Jarl for today’s South Mainland Up-Helly-A’. Photo: Kevin Osborn

Like many Up-Helly-A’  celebrations this year, the South Mainland Up-Helly-A’ got off to quite a wet and blustery start.

Such was the wild and wind the bairns at Sound Primary School were unable to go outside for the visit of Guizer Jarl Keith Lobban and his squad.

But, they were not to be disappointed as they waited excitedly in the school hall for the deer-skin, bow-bearing Vikings to appear.

Clearly this was a pretty special way to round off the school week, and after the children warmed up their vocal chords with a rendition of the Up Helly Aa Song, the jarl squad musicians came in to perform for the eager pupils.

They joined in happily with the Up-Helly-A’  tune once more and after Keith and his squad paraded round the hall with plenty of  roaring and sword pumping, the pupils sang the well-known tune back to the squad with gusto.

Keith, who hails from Gulberwick, has chosen to represent one of the most feared archers of the Viking age, Einar Eindridesson Thambarskelfir.

And the squad suit this year represents the jarl’s passion for archery. The bow and arrow is the main weapon of choice and arrows feature on both the helmet and shields.

Red was chosen at it is a favourite colour of the jarl and almost all the suit has been made by the squad – down to the Celtic knot which appears on the quiver, belt, boots and armguards.

Keith, a former pupil at Sound Primary School said it was strange to come back.

His former teacher Sheila Buchan, who taught him more than 30 years ago, wished him all the best for the rest of the day.

“Your singing was brilliant,” Keith told the pupils.

“You’re a lot better than these people behind me anyway,” he joked.

Keith presented the school with a plaque and he and the squad chatted to the children.

He said he was enjoying the day so far and he was looking forward to the rest of the day’s festivities.

Squad member Liam Mullay said: “It’s been excellent, the weather hasn’t been brilliant but we’re making the most of it.”

He said he was looking forward to the day ahead: “If it’s anything like what we’ve done so it’s going to be brilliant.”

A welcome cuppa was on offer at Gulberwick Hall where the squad made their next stop.

Visitors young and old were treated to a fine display from the squad, including a song about the arrow-shooting jarl with the words “Viking arrows in your quiver, Viking arrows in the air, when you’re out with the Jarl you’ll find arrows everywhere.”

Zoe Galbraith, one of the female Vikings in the squad said it was great to take part.

She was sporting jewellery made especially for the occasion including a necklace, each one being slightly different  and a key.

Married women all carry keys, she said as in Viking times women kept the key to the family chest containing valuable belongings.

The squad will continue its busy schedule this afternoon with the “light up” at 7.30pm.

About Adam Guest

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