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Cultural Heritage

The cultural heritage of the Shetland Islands displays a remarkable diversity considering the small size and remote location of the archipelago. The islands have been populated for approximately 5000 years and during that time a wide variety of cultures have contributed to their heritage.

Mousa Broch enlarge Mousa Broch From the early farmers who worked the land at the Scord of Brouster through the mysterious broch builders, the Picts and the Vikings to the castles of the early Scottish Earls and on to the oil industry of the present day the archaeological record provides stunning examples that allow us an insight into the lives of previous populations.

The influence of the sea, the relative poorness of much of the agricultural land and the need to leave the islands to find work have all played their part in shaping the cultural heritage of the islands. Visiting merchants and fishermen have given the islands a cosmopolitan view of the world re-enforced by sailors returning from voyages to all the corners of the earth.

The resulting mix is reflected in the history, folklore, music, literature, dialect and place names of the islands. Added together it produces a unique cultural blend quite unlike anything anywhere else in the United Kingdom.

For more information on the cultural heritage of the islands download our free leaflets here or visit the following websites: