A cold drizzle falls as we shiver in the streets, waiting for the Viking lord and his band of raiders to appear. It’s a raw January night in the old Shetland town of Lerwick, but there’s euphoria in the air. Beside me, a man with two young children laughs as he spots a red smoky haze rising behind the town hall. “Looks like they torched the whole building,” he shouts, to grins all around. Fire, after all, is why we are here. It’s Up Helly Aa, the great incendiary celebration of the Viking past in Shetland. Like everyone else, I’ve come to see a Viking ship burn. Read more at National Geographic Magazine
Image: Viking sword pommel from Haithabu Museum, Germany. Courtesy Keeshu and Wikimedia Commons.