The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


The Shetland Isles

Sites/Groups in this region:

1 post
Benston Broch
8 posts
The Beorgs of Housetter Standing Stones
9 posts
Beorgs of Housetter Cairn Chambered Cairn
6 posts
Bordastubble Stones Standing Stone / Menhir
7 posts
Burraland Broch Broch
9 posts
The Busta Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Cattapund Knowe Long Cairn
6 posts
Clevigarth Broch
14 posts
Clickimin Broch Broch
6 posts
Clivocast Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Cruester Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia
2 posts
Easthouse Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
East Burrafirth Chambered Cairn
1 post
Ernes Ward Chambered Cairn
1 site
Fair Isle
2 sites
Fetlar Island
1 post
Fiddler's Crus Cairn(s)
1 post
Gallow Hill Chambered Cairn
1 post
Gallow Hill Cairn Cairn(s)
2 posts
The Giant's Stones of Hamnavoe Stone Row / Alignment
1 post
Gravlaba Knowe Standing Stones
1 post
Gutcher, Yell Standing Stone / Menhir
3 posts
Haltadans Stone Circle
1 post
Hard Knowe Cairn(s)
1 post
Hill of Burravoe Cairn(s)
9 posts
Hill of Cruester, Bressay Standing Stone / Menhir
10 posts
Islesburgh Chambered Cairn
30 posts
Jarlshof Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
8 posts
Knowe of Wilga Chambered Cairn
1 post
Laxo Cairn(s)
1 post
Loch of Breckon Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia
1 post
Loch of Flatpunds Cairn(s)
5 posts
Loch of Huxter Broch
3 posts
Loch of Tingwall Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
Longhill Cairn(s)
1 post
Lumbister, Yell Stone Row / Alignment
1 post
March Chambered Cairn
4 posts
Mavis Grind
4 posts
Mid Field Standing Stone / Menhir
20 posts
Mousa Broch Broch
4 posts
Muckle Flugga Rocky Outcrop
9 posts
Ness of Burgi Cliff Fort
4 posts
North Lochend Cairn(s)
11 posts
Old Scatness Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
1 post
Pettigarth's Field Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
9 posts
Ronas Hill Chambered Cairn
5 posts
Sandness Hill Cairn(s)
8 posts
Scord of Brouster Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
1 post
Seli Voe Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Skelberry Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia
4 posts
Skellister Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
South Hill of Lunna Natural Rock Feature
1 post
Stanesland Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Staneydale Cairns Cairn(s)
21 posts
Stanydale Temple Stone Circle
7 posts
St. Ninian's Chapel Christianised Site
1 post
Sumburgh Airport Cist Cist
6 posts
Sumburgh Head Promontory Fort
1 post
Sweenister Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia
5 posts
Tonga, Scatness Promontory Fort
1 post
Troswick Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
Trowie Knowe Chambered Cairn
2 posts
Upper Scalloway Broch
1 post
Utnabrake Burnt Mound / Fulacht Fia
4 posts
Ward Of Scousburgh Cairn(s)
4 posts
Weisdale Hill Cairn(s)
2 posts
Wormadale Hill Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Yaa Field Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Yamna Field, Gluss Standing Stone / Menhir


Add news Add news
The iron age sites seeking world heritage status

Three iron age settlements in Shetland are in the running to win Unesco World Heritage status.

More info :
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
10th April 2023ce

Prehistoric pottery and mysterious stone box gathered in Shetland

Archaeology Shetland has found 6,000 years worth of archaeology in the isles, but one hotspot in particular faces going underwater.

More info :

drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
11th October 2022ce

Broch In Loch Could Be The Missing Link In Story Of Iron Age Building

From the best newspaper.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th September 2016ce

Archaeologists Rise to Solstice Circle Discovery

Archaeologists working on a remote Scottish island have discovered an ancient stone ceremonial enclosure that is perfectly aligned to the winter and summer solstices.

The find was made by members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (Bacas) working on the island of Foula... continues...
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
5th July 2007ce
Edited 5th July 2007ce

'Poignant finds' at Unst dig

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...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th October 2005ce
Edited 25th October 2005ce


Add folklore Add folklore
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.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st October 2007ce

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).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
20th August 2007ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous

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.
wideford Posted by wideford
21st January 2016ce


Add a link Add a link

The Tower People of Shetland

tjj Posted by tjj
29th January 2013ce

The Shetland Museum site

fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
9th January 2003ce
Edited 17th March 2004ce

Latest posts for the Shetland Isles

Showing 1-10 of 318 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Jarlshof (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Jarlshof</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Jarlshof</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Jarlshof</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
18th September 2021ce

Jarlshof (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

12/09/2021 – Jarlshof – just saying the word out loud makes me happy. I love it round here. The whole area, Old Scatness, Ness of Burgi, Jarlshof and up to Sumburgh Head which has my favourite trigpoint. The beaches, cliffs, even the airport, hotel and coffee shop. The bottom bit of Shetland is just great. As fine a place for a long weekend as you could wish for. Summer's best for birds. Even in mid September there’s stuff still about. We were lucky and saw minke whale the day before in the bay.

This was our first big adventure since March 2020 when half way through a trip to Wales, lockdown loomed and we had to head home. 18 months of not really mixing with folk, we were nervous setting off on our trip. Picked Orkney and Shetland as we love these places and thought they should be quiet. We had been lucky to visit Sumburgh a couple of times before. Ending our big trip at Jarlshof seemed perfect.

We stayed at the Sumburgh Hotel. It’s a really nice place. Proper friendly and right next to Jarlshof. Room 32 has a great view of the site and the bay.

We visited Jarlshof the day before in the rain. As today was our last day, we thought we’d go again. Visitor centre is closed at the moment but you can still walk round. We got up early. Jarlshof before breakfast sounded good to me.

Jarlshof has to be one of my favourite sites. The history here is amazing. It’s a 4000 year timeline that you get to walk around. But most of all, I love the stones. The colours and shapes are just so good. Revisiting places, you always see things you missed the first time. The broch has a ‘well’ like the one we had seen in Broch of Gurness just a few days back. I didn’t remember this from last time. I like all the twisting paths, doorways and curved walls. Very exciting to walk around. Soon it was time to head back and pack for our trip home. We stood for a while, looking out to sea, Sumburgh Head and far away Fair Isle. It felt good to be adventuring again.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
18th September 2021ce

Sumburgh Head (Promontory Fort) — Images

<b>Sumburgh Head</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
18th September 2021ce

Weisdale Hill (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Weisdale Hill</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Weisdale Hill</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Weisdale Hill</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
17th September 2021ce

Weisdale Hill (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

10/09/2021 – Overnight ferry from Orkney to Shetland. Early morning, off the boat and on to the number 9 bus that goes to Walls. It’s a lovely bus route and if you don’t have a car, you could use it to visit the big sites like Scord of Brouster and with a bit of a walk, Stanydale Temple. Worth doing just for the scenery.

Today we were heading for Weisdale Hill. We had a bit of history with this one. Back in 2014 we were on the way here and had to turn back due to car problems. I’ve been wanting to get back and give it another go. Bus driver was proper friendly, asked where we were going. Dropped us off at Scord of Sound, the high part of the road just next to the track going up the hill. The feet were very grateful as it saved us 100m gain and we had full loads today with the rucksacks. Day 8 of the trip, we were tired. I’m starting to feel old for this backpacking game.

Slow plod up the track to the aerials on Hill of Sound then a pathless walk of about 1.2km to the top of Weisdale Hill. Nothing too bad underfoot. Pretty easy going. Weather wasn’t great today. Low cloud base so visibility wasn’t great but at least the rain was holding off.

Canmore has this cairn as a ‘a rubble pile covered in peat, which could be a prehistoric summit cairn’. Doesn’t make it sound that exciting. It’s a good size maybe 8-10m in diameter and over 2m high. There’s a small modern cairn on top. To my eyes it looked prehistory. It’s definitely built, not natural. The south side is covered in peat to a height over 2m. I’ve read the rate of peat accumulation is roughly 1mm per year, though could be slower this far north in Shetland. A depth of 2m would have taken 2,000 years or more. It’s an old cairn.

Bit of a shame it was cloudy today as the view from here would be very nice.

We didn’t stay too long, as it wasn’t a day for sitting. We headed back and into Tresta to wait for the bus back.

A nice day out.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
17th September 2021ce

Upper Scalloway (Broch) — Links


Great photos of the excavation.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
6th November 2020ce
Showing 1-10 of 318 posts. Most recent first | Next 10