This year’s Guizer Jarl decided to pay homage to one of Scandinavia’s most infamous historic figures during yesterday’s Up Helly Aa.
Every year, the chief guizer selects a legendary Viking to emulate during the popular winter festival.
The figurehead at this year’s festivities, 37-year-old Lyall Gair, paid tribute to Sweyn “Forkbeard” Haroldsson in naming his squad after the ancient figure.
The warrior, who lived from roughly 960 to 1013, was known as much for his ruthless nature as for his distinctive facial hair.
Forkbeard is hailed as “England’s forgotten king”, after seizing the nation’s throne following a series of barbaric invasions – but he died shortly afterwards.
When he was only 26, he led a military campaign against his own father, the Danish and Norwegian King Harald “Bluetooth”, which resulted in the latter’s death.
In 991, he began a series of merciless raids on England, killing anyone who stood in his way and plundering vast swathes of the country.
Etherland, King of England, retaliated by ordering the slaughter of all Danes.
But the revenge attack infuriated Forkbeard, whose sister Gunhilda was among those slain.
Returning to England on a quest for retribution, the warrior amassed his largest army and had the bow of his boat carved and painted to resemble a snake.
An angry Forkbeard impaled his enemies on pikes and, despite being paid to stay away, the raids continued for the next 10 years.
After laying siege to London, the Earls of England stunned the country by making the marauder its king.
Mystery surrounds his subsequent death. Some claim it was caused by him falling from his horse in Lincolnshire while others maintain he was speared to death.