Lerwick Up Helly Aa 2001
|Up Helly Aa Fact File|
|Date:||30th January 2001|
| Michael Groat|
|Galley Name:||Old Faithful|
|Jarl's Squad Members:||45|
|Number of Squads:||47|
|Number carrying torches:||819|
The Jarl's Squad
The squad, numbering 45 members, wore black long-sleeved tunics with decorative banding at the cuffs and above the elbow. The tunic split at the bottom, and was again decorated with banding. On their legs, squad members wore trousers, again decorated at the bottom with the same banding. Chain mail was silver in colour and was formed from decorative interlocking sections. The cloaks were light blue in colour and were fastened over one shoulder with a silver brooch, on the opposite side to which the squad members carried their shield.
Their helmets were rounded and silver, with no horns or feathers attached, and squad members carried doubled-headed axes. Their shields were round and predominantly silver in colour. They were divided into curved quarters, and two of these were decorated with the same light blue material as the cloaks, whilst the other two were silver metal.
The Jarl himself wore the same tunic and trousers as his squad, however, he wore a distinctive long white cloak, in a style similar to a large waistcoat, in order to tie in with the character he chose to depict. He also carried the usual accoutrements of the Guizer Jarl. In order to strengthen the ties with his Saga character, the Guizer Jarl was accompanied on his rounds by his large white dog.
About the Jarl's Guizer name
Gunnar Hámundarson was a 10th century Icelandic chieftain. He lived in Hlíðarendi in Fljótshlíð and is probably better known as Gunnar of Hlíðarendi (Norwegian: Gunnar fra Lidarende). He was a real historic person that have a major hero role in the first half of Njáls Saga,(Norw.: Njål's Saga).
According to Njáls Saga, he was a great warrior and a great archer. He was atletic, and supposedly there was no game at which he had an equal. He was "handsome and fair of skin and had a straight nose, turned up at its tip. He was blue-eyed and keen-eyed and ruddy-cheeked with thick hair, blond and well-combed." He was extremely well-bred, fearless, generous, and even tempered, faithful to his friends.
Iceland was discovered and settled by land-hungry Norsemen late in the ninth century. It was the last convulsive movement of peoples in the great Scandinavian migrations that had already sent Viking ships to Russia, to the British Isles, to France, even to North Africa. But Iceland was never a Viking nation, in the popular concept. This new nation, a composite of settlers from Scandinavia and the Norse colonies in Ireland and the Hebrides, numbering at most 60,000, quickly established a unique parliamentary commonwealth (in 930) which finally broke down a few years before Gunnar Hamundarson was born.
Gunnar lived at Hildarend in Fljotshlid. He was a tall, powerful man, outstandingly skilful at arms. He could strike or throw with either hand, and his sword strokes were so fast that he seemed to be brandishing three swords at once. He was excellent at archery and his arrows never missed their mark. He could jump his own height in full armour, and as far forwards and backwards. He could swim like a seal.
Gunnar appears in Njal's Sage, an epic prose narrative about people who lived in Iceland, intensely and often violently, in the tenth century. Gunnar was a close kinsman of Njal Thorgeirson of Bergthorsknoll and first appeared in the Saga when, on Njal's advice and planning, he recovers the dowry of Unn, from her divorced husband Hrut.
Gunnar left Iceland to travel abroad on a ship commanded by Hallvard the White from Oslo and took his brother, Kolskegg, with him. They sailed abroad and stayed at Tonsberg over the winter. With two longships, Gunnar and Hallvard sailed to Hising to meet Hallvard's kinsman Olvir who joined them with two more longships. On their way downriver they were attacked by two Viking ships and after a fierce battle they overwhelmed the Vikings and seized much booty.
They then sailed east to Smaland in Sweden, and were victorious wherever they fought. They did not return that autumn and the following summer they sailed to Revel, where they met Vikings whom they fought and defeated. After that, they steered east to the island of Osel and lay there for a while before a headland. Gunnar went ashore and met a man called Tofi who told him of warships lying on the other side of the headland, commanded by two brothers called Hallgrim and Kolskegg who were formidable warriors. Their ships were preparing to attack Gunnar's ships and Gunnar and his men were soon ready when the warships came at them. Battle was joined, and Gunnar killed many men including the brothers Hallgrim and Kolskegg, after which the other Vikings begged for quarter, which Gunnar granted. Gunnar then returned to see Tofi who led them to the VIkings treasure which had been buried on the island. In return for his good deed, Gunnar agreed to take Tofi back to his homeland in Denmark.
On arrival at Hedeby in Denmark, Gunnar was invited to the court of King Harald Gormsson where he stayed for a fortnight. From Hedeby Gunnar sailed north to Hising, where Olvir welcomed him. Gunnar returned the two ships to Olvir, laden with booty. They then sailed north to Trondheim to meet Earl Hakon, and stayed there till spring before returning to Iceland where they arrived in early summer.
On his return to Iceland, Gunnar attended the Althing, where he met Hallgerd, daughter of Hoskuld Dala-Kollssom, whom he married not long after. After his return and marriage to Hallgerd, Gunnar remained in Iceland and became one of the outstanding persons in the land. At this time in Iceland, there were many disputes which were resolved at the Althing. After one of these meetings to resolve a dispute between Gunnar and the Thorgeirs brothers, Gunnar went to visit a friend of his, Olaf the Peacock, who lived in the west in an area called the Dales. On parting with Olaf, he was given three gifts: a gold bracelet, a cloak that once belonged to King Myrkjartan of Ireland and a dog given to him in Ireland. The dog was a big animal and accompanied Gunnar on all his journeys and would bark at a person he recognised as an enemy but never at a friend.
Gunnar's dispute with the Thorgeirs brothers was not forgotten and they planned to kill him. Their ambush was discovered and in the battle, Gunnar and his men killed both the brothers. The dispute still did not finish with the deaths of the brothers though, and other took up the cause against Gunnar and planned another ambush at Gunnar's home while all his men were away harvesting. They forced Gunnar's neighbour Thorkel, to accompany them to seize Gunnar's dog. The dog saw the men and sprang at Thorkel and bit him in the groin. Onund of Trollwood then drove his axe deep into the dog's head but the animal uttered a loud howl, the like of which none of the men had ever heard before, and then fell dead. Inside the house Gunnar heard the howl and knew he was about to be attacked. With no men to help defend him, Gunnar put up a brave defence and after killing two and wounding sixteen of his assailants, he was himself overpowered and killed.
This years Galley was named Old Faithful, and was painted with Blue and White striped strakes. The gunwhale was silver, and decorated with motifs reflecting the squad's suits. The head and tail were also silver and black and she had no ram or anchor attached.