Highlights of Shetland
Shetland has long been famous as a mecca for bird enthusiasts and its rich archaeological landscape overlooked. However, the lack of intensive modern farming means that the preservation of these sites and their landscapes is exceptional and there is much to explore here from ancient field boundaries to Iron Age village; and from Viking longhouse to substantial relics from two world wars. We visit the internationally important sites at Mousa, Scatness and Jarlshof and take the ferry to the most northerly island in Britain, Unst, thought to be the first footfall of the Vikings. Nowhere is farther than three miles from the sea and the beauty of the landscape - deserted sandy beaches, jagged coastline, heather clad hill, and mirror like lochs – will stay with you long after you return home.
Your Departure date
Deposit: $500 Single supplement: $270
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Day 1 - Lerwick
We meet at our hotel in Lerwick before an introductory lecture and dinner together at the hotel.
|Hotel||Brae Hotel, Shetland|
Day 2 - Unst
Today we take two short ferry crossings to reach Unst, Britain’s most northerly inhabited island, where we discover the island’s Viking heritage. A large number of Viking longhouses have been discovered (at least 60) – the greatest number found anywhere, including Scandinavia. We will visit one of the excavated sites at Underhoull where there is evidence of outhouses, annexes and drains which have been added to the longhouse during its development. Remains indicate there was also a wooden sprung floor and possibly a mezzanine level. We continue to Haroldswick to see the Skidbladner, replica ship, and reconstructed longhouse. In the afternoon we drive towards Skaw to take in the view of the Muckle Flugga lighthouse perched on the northern tip of Unst. Before catching our return ferry, we will also visit Muness Castle, a late 16th century tower house destroyed by French pirates in 1627 and abandoned in the 18th century.
Day 3 - Mousa Broch & Jarlshof
We start our exploration of Shetland’s archaeology at Mousa Broch, situated on the uninhabited island of the same name a couple of miles off the east coast of Shetland’s mainland and now an RSPB reserve. The ferry will drop us at the jetty and we walk along the shore for just over half a mile to reach the site. The broch towers over the landscape at 13 metres tall with three corbelled chambers in its solid base. Built somewhere around 3000BCE, it was originally built with two wooden floors accessed by stairways which you can still climb. Returning to the mainland we drive south to Scatness, an Iron Age broch and village occupied for around two millennia. The site was discovered when Sumburgh Airport expanded in the 1970s to accommodate increased air traffic and is now a public heritage project. The broch survives to nearly 4 metres in height and the surrounding houses are single walled with an upper storey, possibly for storage. We end the day at Jarlshof a spectacular site on the headland overlooking the West Voe. Here, there is evidence of over 4,000 years of human history - Neolithic houses, Bronze Age village, Iron Age broch, Norse longhouse medieval farmstead and 16th century house.
Day 4 - Shetland
Our last full day on Shetland and we start with Stanydale Temple on the West Mainland. This extraordinary structure gained its name from its similarity to the megalithic temple sites in Malta. Its origins date between 2500-2000 BCE but it appears to have still been occupied into the early Iron Age. A series of alcoves, some with hearths and two massive post holes to support a timber-framed roof confirm the grandeur which helps to set this building apart from other Neolithic structures in Shetland. From there we drive to the Scord of Brouster, one of the earliest Neolithic farm sites in Shetland. Excavated in the 1970s, it spans a period from just after 3000 BC to around 1500 BC and comprises several houses and interlinked field walls. Returning to Lerwick, we visit the fantastic, award-winning Shetland Museum which displays over 3000 artefacts and end the day at Clickhimin Iron Age Broch and later wheelhouse situated just outside Lerwick.
Day 5 - Shetland
We make our independent journeys home or remain to explore more of the islands.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Professional Tour Manager
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
- Meals as per the itinerary, wine and tea or coffee with dinner
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- All taxes & gratuities
- Field notes