Where the þing idea came from.

Harald Bluetooth.
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The 2012 Nesting and Girlsta Up Helly Aatook place on Friday 10th February withGuizer JarlIain Malcolmson representingHarald Bluetooth Gormson (Harald Blatand). The Jarl's Squad comprised 50 members including 24 bairns - 14 of whom were princesses. This year's galley was named Mjöllnir (Thor's Hammer).

About the Jarl's Saga:

When looking for a name, the Jarl, being an architect, found a kindred spirit in Harald Bluetooth Gormson. Harald is remembered for leaving a legacy of important constructions in his time.

Harald was born about 935AD, son of King Gorm the Old and Thyri Dannebod. Gorm died about 958AD. At the beginning of Harald's reign his authority only extended toJutland but by the end he had unifiedDenmark. Harald built a chain of ring forts (including the Trelleborg Forts), at five strategic locations and at the entrance of each a bridge that was five metres wide and 760 metres long - bigger than the BurraBridge! Through these wonderful engineering feats Harald was able to exercise direct rule over his entire kingdom and to extend Danish rule to Norway around 970AD. Harald strengthened theDanevirke, a massive wall that protected Denmark from invasion.
Harald was the first Scandinavian king to actively promote Christianity to his subjects. This was most likely a political move due to pressure from his powerful German neighbours. So in 965AD Harald was converted by Poppa, a German missionary, and he built a grand memorial at Jelling to mark the event. This included the famous Jelling Stones - the biggest and grandest of all the Viking memorial stones.
Harald set about converting the people and forced the Danes to accept Christianity but the Norwegians were not so easy to forget their pagan gods. The Runes on the Jelling Stones read "King Harald commanded this memorial to be made in memory of Gorm, his father, and in memory of Thyri, his mother - that Harald who won for himself the whole of Denmark and Norway, and made the Danes Christian".
The ties to the old gods was hard to break and Harald was killed about 987 in an uprising led by his treacherous son, Svein (Sweyn) Forkbeark. What might have been Harald's greatest architechtural achievement was a magnificent kirk at Rosilde. He moved the seat of royal power there from Jelling and this kirk was eventually replaced by a cathedral where Harald himself is buried and where members of the Danish royal family are still laid to rest.
Harald Bluetooth, or Harald Blatand, unified Denmark and Norway. This was made possible by his innovative engineering and construction projects that improved lines of communication. This legacy inspired Ericsson, a Swedish mobile phone company to name their innovative mobile phone technology after hime - Bluetooth with the logo
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- a combination of the runes for HB. Harald might have resorted to the Dane axe if his diplomacy had not worked... an application not available on your smartphone just yet!



Judith Jesch
JudithJesch-420x210.jpgShetland Amenity Trust arranged the Thing lecture series as part of the Northern Periphery Programme transnational THING Project (Thing sites International Networking Group).
The important lecture for our site was on Friday 20th April when Professor Judith Jesch delivered a talk on ‘Sagas and Things: The Cultural Life of Assemblies.’ Professor Jesch is director of the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age at the University of Nottingham, and President of the Viking Society for Northern Research. She is the author of many books and articles on Viking Society and sagas.

Eileen Brooke Freeman


Eileen has worked with the school in relation to the Place names of Shetland Project and the Thing Project

click on the badge to hear Eileen talk about ThingsUnknown.jpeg