It's a well kept secret, but Shetland is a Treasure Trove for Archaeology. It has been home to people for over 6000 years. There may have been no indigenous mammals but the sea has been a rich larder throughout time. The earliest known site, a settlement at West Voe, is situated beside the shore.

Pundswater wheelhouse enlarge Pundswater wheelhouse People began to farm 5,000 years ago. The remains of the farms can still be found in the hills, and the land boundaries between them are visible running between them. The hills are home to the ancestors, with burial cairns set in places which commanded good views over the farmers. These farmers and, 3000 years later, the Vikings inhabited areas which are now populated by sheep. The lack of intensive modern farming means that the preservation of these sites and their landscapes is exceptional. A visitor can literally stumble across the remains.

Shetland also boasts some internationally important monuments. At Jarlshof the visitor can take a walk through 4,000 years of history; Old Scatness is the best preserved Iron Age Village in Northern Europe and, at 13 meters, Mousa is the world's most complete 2,000 year old broch. The Picts left their carvings, on stone and on silver: the St Ninian's Isle treasure is particularly well known. The Vikings left their longhouses: there are over 50 examples in the Island of Unst alone, which is a greater density of rural longhouses than is known from anywhere else, including Scandinavia.

In Shetland the past is written in every hill. It's a well kept secret, but slowly that secret is getting out.

More information on Shetland's rich archaeology can be found at:

Shetland Museum and Archives

Geopark Shetland


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