Isles fiddlers Hjaltibonhoga have unveiled the Viking longship they will take through the castle gates in the capital next month for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The fire-retardant longship, christened the Mirrie Dancer, was revealed to the public for the first time at a special concert at the TA Hall in Lerwick on Wednesday evening.
The name is an acknowledgement of the fiddlers’ first visit to the tattoo in 2014, when their performance was based on the Aurora Borealis.
In their upcoming performances, the fiddlers will commemorate the impact of the Vikings who arrived in Shetland around 800AD. The group’s 48 fiddlers will be joined by 12 family members playing the part of Vikings.
Hjaltibonhoga founder Margaret Robertson said: “The Viking theme is our part of the ‘Splash of Tartan’, which is the overall title of this year’s tattoo. And we’ve been asked to represent the Viking settlement on Shetland.”
Members of South Mainland Up-Helly-A’ committee built the Mirrie Dancer after Scott Lobban, one of its founding members, was approached by Ms Robertson.
“We started it at the end of April so it’s taken just over 10-12 weeks to build it. It’s been a huge effort,” said Mr Lobban, a helicopter engineer from Dunrossness.
But even though Mr Lobban and company are experienced galley builders, making the Mirrie Dancer threw up some peculiar challenges.
“It’s hopefully going to be going through the main castle gate at Edinburgh so we’ve had to reduce the height of her slightly to make sure she fits,” said Mr Lobban.
“And also there’s a huge pyrotechnic fit that’s going to go inside it for an effect of it being on fire so we’ve had to flameproof everything and fire retard everything and also build all the equipment to go inside it.”
Hjaltibonhoga will perform for the duration of the tattoo, which begins on 4th August.