The Centre for Nordic Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands and Shetland Museum have again teamed up to deliver a number of public talks through this year.
The lectures, which follow a succesful series last year, will cover a range of topics delivered by six international scholars from a variety of disciplines who will visit Shetland between May and November.
The first lecture on Friday 27th May is entitled “The Nordic Roots of the Orkney (and Shetland?) Broonie and Other Mound Dwellers”.
Terry Gunnell from the University of Iceland will discuss the Nordic roots of some of Shetland’s mound-dweller folklore and in what ways supernatural figures such as trows are related to Nordic folk beliefs, legends and traditions.
Christian Keller from the University of Oslo will deliver a talk on Friday 24th June on “The Viking Guide to surviving in the North Atlantic: Traditional technologies in Norse colonization”. The first colonisers to Iceland and Greenland had to “read” their new environments very quickly, and to decide what sort of society to establish. Prof Keller will argue that “donor cultures” of the Scottish isles and the Norwegian west coast contained elements that were essential for their success.
As part of the Tall Ships week of celebrations, Donna Heddle of the University of the Highlands and Islands will deliver a lecture on Friday 22nd July on “Viking Navigators”. Dr Heddle will discuss early Norse navigators, their vessels, trading routes and stories. Audience members are encouraged to attend in suitable maritime attire!
Robert McColl Millar from the University of Aberdeen will visit on Friday 30th September to deliver a lecture on “The Roots of the Shetland Dialect”. Dr McColl Millar will discuss how historical, political and cultural processes have influenced regional and national language varieties.
On 28th October, Caroline Wickham-Jones, also from the University of Aberdeen, will deliver her lecture “First Links with Scandinavia? Environment and People in the Northern Isles 8000-6000 years ago”. She will look at Shetland and Orkney’s first links with Scandinavia, and the change in pre-historic landscapes, environment and people 8,000-6,000 years ago.
The final lecture will be on Friday 25th November by Stephen Harrison of University College, Dublin. Dr Harrison will give an overview of the type and distribution of Viking age burials found in the Northern Isles in “Viking Graves in the Northern Isles”.
All lectures will be held in the Shetland Museum auditorium with a 7.30pm start and they are free to attend. Tickets are available from the foyer desk or by calling (01595) 741562.
One of the UK’s top outdoor adventure coaches, Jules Fincham from Cycle Wild Scotland, was in Shetland last week to give Trail Cycle Leader Awards to four council staff, some volunteers and a member of the local police force.
The award is run by Cycle Wild Scotland on behalf of Scottish Cycling and is the first of its kind in Shetland. The course includes mountain biking skills, trailside repairs, bike set up, navigation and leadership and provides individuals with the skills necessary to lead groups mountain biking.
The project was funded through a grant from Cycling Scotland and it is hoped that those gaining the qualification will use it to inspire young people in Shetland to participate in the sport of cycling and the wider use of bikes.
SIC outdoor education and activities officer Pete Richardson said: “Jules is here to deliver the qualification, but also to provide inspiration. If we can encourage kids to cycle, get them off road and show them some quick fix bike maintenance; that can be really empowering.”
Showing that mountain biking is a safe and enjoyable sport will undoubtedly have health benefits for young people, but it is hoped that it will also encourage youngsters to become more self-reliant.
Mr Fincham said: “It’s all about getting kids on bikes. If kids realise that they can get out and about on bikes and use them for journeys to school, the shops, for socialising – they are going to carry that on with them into later life.
“Taking groups out to wild and remote places helps to show kids that cycling is a great way to get around and hopefully it will encourage them to become more involved in other bike based sports like BMX, racing or downhill.
“I’ve seen kids build their own dirt jumps and tracks here, so there is obviously a hunger for these types of facilities. If you enthuse them into biking they will find their own venue. Anything on wheels is good news.”