The excavation of an Iron Age site at Sand Wick on Unst, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, was initially aimed at training volunteers how to excavate eroding coastlines... continues...
The abodes of the Daoine Shi' are supposed to be below grassy eminences or knolls, where, during the night, they celebrate their festivities by the light of the moon, and dance to notes of the softest music.
The belief in Fairies is a popular superstition among the Shetlanders. The margin of a small lake called the Sandy Loch, about two miles from Lerwick, is celebrated for having been their favourite resort. It is said that they often walk in procession along the sides of the loch in different costumes.
Some of the natives used frequently, when passing by a knoll, to stop and listen to the music of the fairies, and when the music ceased, they would hear the rattling of the pewter plates which were to be used at supper. The fairies sometimes visit the Shetland barns, from which they are usually ejected by means of a flail, which the proprietor wields with great agility, thumping and threshing in every direction.
p108 in 'A History of the Highlands and of the Highland Clans' by James Browne (1834) - now on Google Books.
The original Celts, or axes, are of polished stone, shaped something like a wedge. These are found of all sizes, some seeming intended for felling trees, and others for warlike purposes; and others again so very small, that they could only be designed for carving or dividing food..
They have been found in considerable numbers in the Shetland Isles, which were evidently first settled by the scandinavians. The natives suppose them to be thunderbolts, and account the possession of one of them a charm. Mr Collector Ross of Lerwick presented the author of this Introduction with six of these weapons found in Shetland. It is said the stone of which they are constructed cannot be found in these islands. The natives preserve them, from a superstitious idea that they are thunderbolts, and preserve houses against the effects of lightning.
page vii in vol 2 of 'The Border Antiquities of England and Scotland' by Walter Scott, Luke Clennell and John Greig (1817).
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" George Petrie and Dr Hunt excavate 65'D 10~11' high bowl barrow. Near the centre 5-6' below the apex were fond a "peculiar" stone tool (similar to one found at Sefster on same trip), potsherds and ox bone fragments. Tumulus made of burnt stones, having a circle of stones just inside the perimeter with the remains of an encircling circular wall a few feet inside that. On the wall's inner face, roughly 15' inside the north perimeter, a large edgeset freestone block was found facing the centre. This was held up by a wall either side and had a large perforation near its upper end. Not far from the mound, but unconnected, were found two inscribed stones, each with a different kind of runes. These were taken to Lerwick..
Brindister Voe HU25NE 6
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" Broch of Brindister at edge of steep cliff and defended by double earthworks landward. George Petrie and Dr Hamiltton saw doorway and traced galleris in the circular wall but didn't examine inerior as choked with debris from broch tower.
Broch of Burraness HU58SW 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" described. In 1854 one of the best preserved broughs in Shetland but a lot taken for cottage building in Burraness.
The Brough HU48NW 3
31st 1865 "The Orcadian" llttle left of Brough of West Sandwick's wall.
Brough of North Garth ~HY547005
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" brough below house, at beach's N end, almost entirely gone.
Brough of Stoal HU58NW 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" at least 3 ditches cut off brough at stole/chair of Awick, very high banks.
Brough of West Yell
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" name mentioned.
Burgi Geo HP50NW 2
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" description of approach to brough on Burgar Goes, a site mentioned by Hibbert.
Burra Voe HU57NW 2
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" little left as most of Brough of Burnavoe stones taken to build house at Burnavoe by owner Mr Henderson, entrance to underground passages now blocked by stone.
Charlotte Street, Lerwick
February 12th 1886 "Orkney Herald" stone cist with remains, probably previously disturbed, found near surface in clearing site for Mr Ogalvy's houses at bottom of Charlotte Street.
Clickhimin HU44SE 2
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" Broch of Clickimin [sic] in worse state than Mousa but wall restoration more in keeping with design.. April 11th 1888 "Orkney Herald" Stones removed from causeway by local butcher for building material.
Fillicomb Point HP50NW 3
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" some ditches of brough in heads of Toft remain but part of broch fallen into the sea.
June 27th 1883 "Orkney Herald" report from "Shetland News"; man on Foulis [sic] finds fresh-looking but headless female body, lying on an o.g.s. of stunted heath, after digging 6' through solid peat.
Giant's Grave, North Yell
July 29th 1871 "The Orcadian" close to St Niniian's Kirk site (Papil Bay) is a N/S aligned low mound called giant's grave and never built upon, though slight attempts to excavate seem to show natural sandstone only.
Gossabrough HU58SW 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" chambers visible in Brough of Gossaburgh ruins, graves reported nearby.
Graveland HU49NE 3
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" remains of buildings at Brough of Bergaard on small peninsula.
Greenbank HP50SW ?53
July 29th 1871 "The Orcadian" two stone fragments with worn lettering found at Clinsara Reggs on the meik of Papal by Margaret Craigie of Millby Cottage servant, near the St Ninian's Kirk site.
Head of Brough HU48SW 2
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" description of Brough of Brough.
Holm of Coppister HU47NE 1
October 31st 1865 "The Orcadian" Brough of Cuppister mentioned (name only).
Levenwick HU412NW 3
August 21st 1869 "The Orcadian" recorded by Dryden.Broch excavated down to the foundations within the last fortnight by Gilbert Goudie and described. Only finds part of a handmill and bone fragments.
Loch of Huxter HU56SE 1
June 17th 1879 "Orkney Herald" described in notice read to Society of Antiquaries of Scotland..
Mailand (Unst) HP60SW
June 10th 1876 "The Orcadian" D Edmonton's men digging May 31st on area long dug for peats discover 4 cast metal items together mouth down in the peat, a large basin and 3 fire-pots different sizes.
Mousa HU42SE 1
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" description of Mousa-Borg, where restorations have been made to the walltop and the doorway but those to the latter has greatly changed the appearance.
Muckle Heog East HP61SW 12
September 27th 1864 "The Orcadian" burnt human bones from crouched people found in cist 18" below ground level in digging hole for flagstaff, 2 skulls sent by Mr Edmonton to Mr Roberts at Somerset House.
Papil Bay HP50SW 4
July 29th 1871 "The Orcadian" St Ninian's Kirk site at the Kinwail 'gard of Weeping' close to mound called giant's grave.
Sefster HU35SW 14
July 18th 1865 "The Orcadian" celts and stone knives found by minister Bryden several years ago in underground passage at Safsetter/Safester. Passage re-opened and many more tools found, including one similar to that already found in a Bressay mound. Potsherds and stone vessels also found.
St Ninian's Church HU32SE 4 ?
August 26th 1885 "Orkney Herald" letter from the "Scotsman" describing situation of unenclosed disused St Ninian/Ringan's graveyard: ~6 miles from Fitful Head on E side of tidal outlet on W side of mainland's southern part. Soil is loose light sand to a great depth.
Trebister HU43NW 13?
March 28th 1883 "Orkney Herald" preparations on Saturday for a graveyard at a grass-covered mound belonging to Rev Mr Walker bring to light a 'Pictish castle', 40' of a circular section 4' high surviving from what is likely to have been a ~140' outer wall of the building. Stone dyke encloses mound. Large quanities of dark red peaty ash in several places and a man's jawbone found. Other discoveries were a few stone celts, several 12x8" ovoid polished stones (some with oval cavities) and four pottery varieties - 2 dark red soft earthenware sherds, a hard brick red sherd, and a vrery hard modern looking highly polished grayish sherd with light green spots.
Uyea, Shetland HU69NW 7
March 18th 1885 "Orkney Herald" article includes extra to P.S.A.S record of meeting, being mention of 3 steatite urns found in tumulus and 4 polished oval porphyrite knives found by Mr J Leisk, all exhibited.
27/09/2014 - Last site we visited on a brilliant week in Shetland. Interesting site in the middle of Lerwick. Couldn't find the carved footprints mentioned on the info board. If you visit, it's also worth popping into the Shetland museum nearby - lovely place, full of old stuff nicely presented.
23/09/2014 - A coastal path leads from Jarlshof to Sumburgh Head. Site of an Iron Age fort. Nice Stevenson Lighthouse sits on the possible site of a now long gone broch. Worth a visit just for the view.