Culture, UK

Shetland the best wedding gift in the world

Maybe that’s why my Dear Old Dad was so grumpy at my wedding… he was expecting a dowry along the lines of Shetland the best wedding gift in the world.

Orkney too was part of the package.

Next month marks 550 years for the two archipelago of slands north of Scotland as incorporated within the Alba (that means Scottish) territory.And it was all down to the resolution of a taxation dispute over the Western Islands, the Hebrides.

Through a dowry from King Christian 1 of Denmark (who were the overseers for Norway) to King James III of Scotland.

Torch song: The Shetlanders

Christian had hoped to keep hold of the two sets of islands (and why wouldn’t you?).

And he was willing to stump up 60,000 Rheingulden which were gold florins from the Rhineland and a popular currency in Northern Europe at this time.

But he couldn’t stump up the money and so matched it against the hand of his 13-year-old daughter Margaret instead (lucky her!).

Treasure islands

Follow our leader: Let the marching begin

The rundown of the value of the islands is said to have been 50,000 for Orkney because of its rich farming lands and the rest for exposed Shetland.

Now if only they had the knowledge and technology to look below the island towards the seabed.

Because there was, and still is, a rich dividend of golden oil which has made the island rich since the 1970s.

The islands may have undergone five and a half centuries being Scotified but they have been loath to abandon their old Norwegian ways.

Fire, I give you fire

In the frame: Pictures of the festival

The first months of the year hold a special significance to the Shetlanders when the Fire Festivals rage.

Starting in Scalloway they include a Viking parade and burning of a replica Viking longship in the picturesque harbour.

Throughout Shetland, there are ten Up Helly Aa/Fire Festival celebrations between January and March.

The one we all know best is in the capital, Lerwick, but alas because of Covid the festival which would have taken place tomorrow has been cancelled.

The organisers explain rightly that the event is a year in the planning which will mean that the Norse Gods being good we will be able to enjoy it next year.

Shetland friends

Child’s play: No kidding

And as luck (and judgment) would have it we have friends in Shetland where we have an open invite to stay.

All of which comes in handy as I guess the limited accommodation on Bressay Sound hikes the prices up.

And so you want to know more about the fiery festival?

Well, the Guizer Jarl (no, me neither) and his squad begin their preparations in February.

And there are 46 other squads taking part which judging that there are only 6,880 residents in Lerwick must mean that everyone is involved.

Watching the detectives

Jimmy’s land: DI Jimmy Perez on Shetland

With such mythology and you’d hazard ghosts and secrets, Shetland is the perfect backdrop for a detective show.

Step up the laconic and world-weary DI Jimmy Perez, the hero of Ann Cleeves’s book which has become an international hit.

Not that you need to worry that this archipelago of islands is a hotbed of crime…

No more than our other winter TV pleasure Death In Paradise, set in the fictional island of Saint Maree, but filmed in Guadeloupe, is murder island.

How to get there

When the boat comes in: Ferry to Shetland

Well, do you want the long or the short story?

The long way around (13 hours overnight) is on North Link Ferries from Aberdeen to Lerwick.

Either as a foot passenger or with your vehicle.

It’s £46.40 return if you want to bunker down on a set of seats, or £156.40 for a cabin.

But if you would prefer to fly… we found £425pp with Loganair.

I guess we’ll hunker down in our sleeping pod then.

And perhaps take in a film in on the ship’s cinema, a drink (or four) and a meal in the restaurant.

Don’t worry, this is one ship that won’t catch fire.

A postscript

No man is an island: But we could do with one

Now Jimmy G, Jimmy Snr if you will, has departed to be with the gods in the heavens.

But as his Son and Heir and with the Outlaws still around I don’t mind taking possession of that dowry we never did get…

Something to match Shetland the best wedding gift in the world.

I have my eye on Tobago in the Caribbean.

 

   

 

 

 

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