The announcement was made by Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, as Scotland and Scandinavia’s shared cultural heritage was being celebrated at the Viking Congress in Shetland, being held in Scotland for the first time in more than 20 years.
The Viking Congress, an international gathering of Viking scholars, was first held in Lerwick in 1950.
Addressing the congress this morning, Ms Hyslop said Scotland and Scandinavia shared a vibrant cultural DNA through their Viking heritage, as well as their geographical proximity. And she revealed that the Scottish Government planned to increase engagement with Scandinavia and build new links with the Nordic countries across a range of areas.
She said: “The Viking Congress is a great opportunity for us to celebrate and further explore the common cultural heritage we share with the Nordic countries. From arts and crafts to place names and dialects, it is important that Scotland continues to value the cultural DNA it shares with Scandinavia and uses that to nurture key links with the Nordic countries.
“The Northern Isles are home to a number of fantastic Norse sites, while Up Helly Aa is a world-famous annual celebration of Viking culture in Shetland. These are just two examples of the impact Viking culture has had on Shetland and on Scotland as a whole.”
Ms Hyslop said: “I am delighted that the Viking Congress is being held in Scotland for the first time in more than 20 years, giving us a great opportunity to celebrate that culture and to strengthen the many ties between Scotland and Scandinavia.”
She told the congress it was important to renew relations between Scotland and Scandinavia and to build on continuing shared maritime interests in the North Atlantic:
Said Ms Hyslop: “Scotland and the Nordic countries have a common interest in the stewardship of the North Atlantic. As we look ahead to the economic and environmental challenges and opportunities facing our maritime neighbourhood, including the Arctic, we need to work together to build a sustainable future for our young people and secure the future of our northern and island communities.”