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In Pictures: Vikings of all ages push the burning boat out for Up Helly Aa

Axes are polished, helmets and sheepskins are donned as visitors from around the world help Shetland celebrate its Nordic history.

The annual Viking invasion of Shetland has started ahead of the fiery Up Helly Aa festival which celebrates the history of the island’s former Norse rulers.

Lerwick’s streets are teeming with hordes of raiders for the annual revelry which will culminate with the traditional torchlight procession and burning of a Viking ship.

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A bin for baby Harry, with his father Daniel Brazier, is a reminder that pillaging can be messy work (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Members of the Jarl Squad dressed in Viking suits on the galley (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Bearded "warriors" were all smiles on the streets of Lerwick (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Every self-respecting Viking must learn to accessorise (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Odin Geddes, four. takes a lick of his axe (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Odin, four, leads his army through the streets of Lerwick (Jane Barlow/PA)
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The Jarl Squad limbering up for Up Helly Aa (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Magnus Johnston, a member of the Jarl Squad dressed in his Viking suit, with his three-month-old son Calum (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Stewart Jamieson, the Guizer Jarl, leads members of the Jarl Squad through the streets in Lerwick (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Shrek looks on disapprovingly as members of the Jarl Squad take a tea break (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Members of the Jarl Squad acknowledge the applause of the crowd (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Members of the Junior Jarl Squad carry flaming torches (Jane Barlow/PA)
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The torches came out as nightfall descended (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Members of the Jarl Squad prepare to set fire to their Viking longship (Jane Barlow/PA)
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The Viking longship on fire (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Huge numbers turned out (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Vikings in full armour (Jane Barlow/PA)
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The burning boat lights up the night (Jane Barlow/PA)
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A lone viking looks deep into the fire (Jane Barlow/PA)
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Flaming torches burn against the night sky (Jane Barlow/PA)

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