It’s a bit of an adventure visiting this H.S site!
This is one of those places you want to visit in nice weather.
Luckily for me it was a beautiful day of blue skies, white fluffy clouds and light wind.
We parked where the road ends, south of Scatness, and Karen stayed with the children while I headed out towards the headland. It was a pleasant 20 minute walk through green fields of little pink flowers.
The walk is flat and the ‘path’ across the fields is easy enough to follow.
That is until you get further out towards the site when you have to clamber over rocks with the help of a chain-link fence. This would only be possible for those who are fairly mobile. Certainly not suitable for anyone with walking problems or young children.
This would not be a good place to cross in rough weather.
Upon arrival at the site the first thought to strike me is that this doesn’t seem much of a fort.
It doesn’t seem very defensible – but there again what do I know?
There is an outer rampart and two ditches.
The reconstructed walls are about 1.5m high and there is a walkway through the middle with a ‘guard’ chamber each side.
This is one of those places where the location is greater than the remains.
I sat down between the rocky crags out of the wind.
Above me birds were hovering in the pale blue sky.
Below me dark blue waves gently lapped on the rocks – the sea glistened in the afternoon sunshine.
I looked across to Sumburgh Head and observed white sand beaches in the distance.
Access is by a fairly obvious track out along the promontory from the end of the minor road signposted 'Scatness'. Its about a mile to the fort, part of which is along a narrow rocky strip with chain hand rails. It was a fine day when I visited, but this would be very dangerous in rough weather. Please avoid the pool to the left as you start off if visiting in the nesting season, as it is home to a tern colony.
The Historic Scotland guidebook for Shetland suggests that the fort is contemporary with the brochs, but represents the efforts of a community with less resources than those who could 'afford' brochs.
The fort itself consists of a double ditch and bank, once stonefaced, which cuts off the headland. There's a stonelined passage through this and into a 'blockhouse' with two cells and the remains of a third.
Please note that the first assemblage of stones you see is the misguided result of 'tidying' the site.