2015 SMUHA Jarl's Squad Suitmaking
The Shield
The Axe
The Helmet
The Kirtle, Dresses & Cloak
The Knife & Belt
There are a few themes that feature in this year’s Jarl Squad suit including dragons and other ferocious beasts. A large number of the squad have rowed for Bigton throughout the years and we wanted to celebrate that by using a new interpretation of the team’s logo, the Bigton Dog. This design comes originally from the Book of Kells along with the Celtic knot that has decorated the gunwales of the team’s yoals throughout the years. The colours of the squad are purple and green, the Jarl’s favourite colour combination.

The vast majority of the work on this year’s suit has been done by the squad. We felt it important to take on as much of the making of the suits ourselves and although we wanted to ensure the suits were of a high enough calibre for the festival, we wanted to keep to a tight budget and ensure no wastage or unnecessary expense. By completing all the work ourselves, we have had a very busy year but have enjoyed each other’s company and learned many new skills.

The basic shield design was inspired by the Berserker piece from the
Lewis Chessmen – he’s the one biting his shield! The shields were made from 2 pieces of plywood glued together and then placed in a shield press made with the help of Kevin Adamson. The press bent the shields to achieve a rounded appearance and then they were covered in purple leather vinyl. The dragon design was developed by Erik Moncrieff from the engravings on the bronze hilt of a sword found in the 11th Century grave of an armoured noble woman in Suontaka, Finland. The sword is dated from around 1030 and can be found in the Finnish National Museum in Helsinki. Each dragon, was cut from stainless steel by Cutting Technologies before being finished and fitted using 29 double pronged pins, by the squad. The backs were then finished off with black fur fabric.

Brian Halcrow helped with turning the Jarl’s axe design drawing into a CAD drawing and Kevin Adamson made up the handle template for routering about 50 axe handles that were then sanded and oiled a ridiculous number of times before passing muster.

The Axe head design was then ‘Eriked’ before Andrew Tait of
CAM Craft in Burra made a resin plug that was then sent to Taylors Foundry in Sussex who made the axe heads from aluminium. The squad then sanded and buffed these from rough to the mirror finish they now boast, going through every grade of sandpaper known to man. The Bigton Dog also features on the axe head along with runes. As with their swords, Vikings liked to name their axes – these are named RANDGRIDR or ‘Shield Hungry’ written in runes. This was also the name of one of the Valkyries.

The Italian leather armour was designed and crafted by the squad. To cover the variety of male and female shapes, a thin and more fluid armour was needed and the design made from 6 separate pieces of leather was then riveted with a V design on the front. The Jarl knitted her own armour using Shetland yarn from
Jamieson and Smith and 2000 gold dragon scales from Beadsister.

Dagger blades were designed by the squad and stainless steel blanks were made up by Cutting Technologies and shaped and polished by the squad. The handles were crafted by the squad with lots of sanding, oiling and then more sanding and oiling...before being fitted with the blades. As we wanted to have some of the blade on show, the sheaths caused us a lot of design headaches before we finally came up with this model. Many hours were spent on this puzzle and we think they’ve ended up pretty good. They’re made with Italian cowhide from
Le Prevo in Newcastle.

Brian Wishart from Sandwick produced the fibreglass helmet blanks in a deep green. The squad trimmed these to size before fixing the metal with 5 double pronged pins. The metal was decorated with a Celtic knot borrowed from the Bigton rowing yoals’ gunwales. This was achieved by sticking on the design made up by
Art Machine. The helmets were then lined with scraps of purple pigskin. Some of the ladies in the squad preferred to wear a head band made by Unfauxgettable Designs instead of a helmet.

The Kirtles were made from purple pigskin bought from Le Prevo and made by Auntie Ann Simpson. Two types of braid finish off the design. The ladies dresses were made by members of the squad and then corrected, fitted and finished off by Ann. These consist of a white linen underdress and a purple linen mix fabric overdress. Cloaks were designed and made by the squad from green velvet and finished with brooches featuring the Bigton Dog in silver pewter by
Scott Sutherland.

Belts were cut from leather hides and fitted with d-rings before being decorated with a simple line down each side. Two pieces of metal, decorated with the same Celtic knot as the helmets were fixed on with rivets to give a little interest. Bags of green velvet were made by the squad and finished off with purple and green thronging and beads. All the boots were stripped back and covered using black felt and a sleeve technology with black faux suede. The bracers were cut from leather and had the shield dragon design heat bonded onto them.
The Breastplate
The Bracers
The Boots
Contact SMUHA
2015 SMUHA
The Galley
The Bill
During the Day
The Burning
The Squads
Galley Building
Torch Making
Suit Making
Guizer Jarl
Jarl's Squad