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Jarlshof Settlement Visitor Information Guide


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Jarlshof Prehistoric SettlementJarlshof Prehistoric Settlement

Jarlshof, at the southern tip of Shetland, close to Sumburgh and its airport, is recognized as one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Britain. with the remains of three extensive village settlements occupied from Bronze Age to Viking times, like other precious relics on the islands it is cared for.

Many of the Scottish lairds who had invaded Shetland built town houses to escape from the same winds round their places in the exposed countryside. Nothing remains of the original fishing village, but, while the solid old houses may have little notable architectural distinction, they have an attractiveness of their own from their very solidity.

Now, of course, Lerwick has spread out into suburbs, and with its new prosperity and need for housing mainly due to Oil and all its ramifications loom large in Lerwick‘s present and future, but the fishing industry is still the backbone of the economy. active and very important, with it's fleet of foreign vessels using the port for landing and marketing their fish, and Shetland is well equipped with fish processing plants.

Unusually, Lerwick has an attraction for the midwinter dark days visitor in the ‘Up-Helly-Aa' festival held on the last Tuesday of January. A modern evocation of Shetland's ancient Norse

past when a 30 ft longship, gaily painted, is paraded through the town in a procession of 800 torch-bearing guizers and ceremonially burned as the signal for a night long revelry welcoming the strengthening sun which will soon burgeon into the beneficence of the “simmer dim”.

Jarshof some 25 miles from Lerwick and set on the seashore not far from one of the more recent constructions, Sumburgh airport, is the prehistoric site of Jarlshof, Here the sequence of occupation is clearly distinguished and covers a span of over 3 thousand years from the mid-2nd millennium BC to the 17C.

Only fragments remain of the earliest settlers' village, contemporary with Skara Brae on the landward side of the site. Bronze Age. - Dating from this period are six oval shaped houses with cubicles built into the walls Dwelling.

The broch itself is equipped with a well. The plan is confused by post-broch dwellings the wheelhouses in and outside the main structure is the most completely preserved example of a wheelhouse or circular hut. 

The remains include numerous long houses the layout of which is complex reflecting various centuries of occupation.

  • Shetland Latitude: 60.5297° N Longitude: 1.2659° W
  • Shetland Postcode ZE1
  • Shetland WOEID 34602

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1 customer review

5 out of 5 stars
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A feast of history
Your review
A Fascinating site covering Iron Age, Viking and Middle ages Scotland.
The site is managed by Historic Scotland and there is a fee for entry. It is only open from April to mid September.
Interesting display in the office, and there is an audio tour for outside which I highly recommend you use.

It is simply stunning to see this place and take the time to appreciate all the living that has gone on here for over 200 years.
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