Ancient Monuments

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Burgi Geos, promontory fort

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.7107 / 60°42'38"N

Longitude: -1.1251 / 1°7'30"W

OS Eastings: 447847

OS Northings: 1203374

OS Grid: HP478033

Mapcode National: GBR R0KF.K2Q

Mapcode Global: XHF7F.R1TW

Entry Name: Burgi Geos, promontory fort

Scheduled Date: 13 March 2006

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11274

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort)

Location: Yell

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises a promontory fort of later prehistoric, perhaps Iron Age, date. The monument occupies a long sinuous promontory between the deep and precipitous North and South Burgi geos, with cliffs 60m high, and is situated on the remote and deserted west coast of Yell.

The fort is approached along a narrowing isthmus, where the outer defences are placed; then crosses a lower and narrower saddle of rock before rising to the fort. The outer defences consist of two distinct features on each side of the approach. On the N there is a continuous line of jagged boulders and to the S is a bank in which is set many jagged boulders, and which has been identified as an example of chevaux-de-frise. Behind this, on the promontory, the path is flanked by a wall of dry-stone masonry, which represents the probable remains of a block house 4.25m NE-SW by 6.7m transversely, with a small ring wall curving round and back. The structure does not have an entrance passage and does not appear to have fully blocked the approach to the promontory.

The area to be scheduled encompasses the visible remains and an area around them in which traces of associated activity may be expected to survive. It is irregular in shape with maximum dimensions of 95m from its westernmost point due east, and 45m due N-S, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an extraordinary and unique fortified settlement; the combination of chevaux-de-frise and blockhouse, has not been found at any other site. The chevaux-de-frise is the most northerly example so far identified, with the nearest examples found in southern mainland Scotland. The entrance arrangements are remarkable, but rather than a defence they almost appear to serve as an avenue into the fort. The distribution of blockhouses is so far restricted to Shetland and the example at Burgi Geos adds to the very limited number that have been positively classified as such. The arrangements of the blockhouse are slightly different from all other examples and demonstrate the flexibility of the form. The location of the monument is also remarkable; it must have always been a very remote site surrounded by very marginal land.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as HP40SE 1.


Carter S P, McCullagh R P J and MacSween A 1995, 'The Iron Age in Shetland: excavations at five sites threatened by coastal erosion', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 125, 446-7, 473-80.

Feachem R W 1963, A GUIDE TO PREHISTORIC SCOTLAND, London, 156.

Lamb R G 1980, IRON AGE PROMONTORY FORTS IN THE NORTHERN ISLES, Brit Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 79, Oxford.

Ritchie A 1997, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE: SHETLAND, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, Edinburgh, 115.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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