Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Clymlea, burnt mound 375m north east of

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland North, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.2897 / 60°17'22"N

Longitude: -1.1436 / 1°8'37"W

OS Eastings: 447448

OS Northings: 1156478

OS Grid: HU474564

Mapcode National: GBR R1JJ.W1Z

Mapcode Global: XHF9C.JMCM

Entry Name: Clymlea, burnt mound 375m NE of

Scheduled Date: 20 December 1974

Last Amended: 9 August 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3582

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: burnt mound

Location: Nesting

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland North

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises the remains of a burnt mound, visible as a crescent-shaped earthwork some 13m long, 5m wide and standing 0.8m high. The burnt mound is likely to date to between 2000 and 1000 BC. The monument is located at around 10m above sea level, on grassland just above the rocky foreshore, at the junction of the Burn of Scudillswick and South Nesting Bay. The monument was first scheduled in 1974, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is roughly oval on plan, truncated along its southern edge, and measuring 27.5m E-W by 25m N-S (maximum). The scheduling includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. It excludes the above-ground elements of the post-and-wire fence that crosses the northern edge of the monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

This monument survives in good condition as an upstanding, thinly turf-covered mound. It is oval in shape, with a hollow area in the centre, which may indicate the presence of a trough, around which the mound originally formed. There are several patches of erosion, particularly on the eastern edge, that show the mound is composed mainly of fire-reddened stones. The burnt mound is cut by the Burn of Scudillswick to the south and is crossed by a post-and-wire fence on its northern edge. This monument has good potential to inform our understanding of the date and nature of burnt mounds, their function(s) and duration. It may contain artefacts or ecofacts that can increase our understanding of the function of burnt mounds and how they were used. The mound is likely to have accumulated directly on an old ground surface and may seal important environmental information that could increase our knowledge of the landscape and land-use before and during the mound's creation.

Contextual characteristics

Burnt mounds are made from heaps of burnt and fire-cracked stone, occurring usually within a matrix of dark soil and perhaps charcoal or ash. The stones represent the waste product from the use of hot stones to heat water, probably for a variety of purposes. After several immersions, the stones would crack and break and were discarded to form burnt mounds. Burnt mounds are often accompanied by troughs that held the water and there is sometimes evidence for associated shelters and the hearths in which the stones were heated. Troughs are usually set in the ground and lined with wood, stone or clay. Burnt mounds typically lie close to a stream or other water source, as in this case.

There are around 1,900 recorded examples of burnt mounds in Scotland with notable concentrations in some areas, including Shetland. The greater number in Shetland may also reflect increased survival because of a lack of later development or agricultural improvement. Burnt mounds in the Northern and Western Isles and northern Scotland are often particularly large. They often show a classic crescentic shape and may have been reused on many occasions over a significant period. They may also have served different social and practical functions to smaller mounds.

In Scotland, excavated examples typically date to the middle Bronze Age, around 1500 BC, but the overall range of dates varies from the late Neolithic through to the early historic period (around 2400 BC to AD 900). A common interpretation of these monuments in Scotland is that they were used to boil water for cooking. However, researchers have also suggested that they could have been used as saunas or sweat-lodges (possibly medicinal as well as sanitary); as baths; or for textile production (dying and fulling), brewing or leather working. Burnt mounds are often found in relatively isolated locations in Scotland, but in Shetland they sometimes occur in association with settlement remains.

This burnt mound lies close to several other prehistoric monuments in the area around South Nesting Bay. To the north there are examples of three prehistoric houses, including one just 70m away. There are also two prehistoric houses further to the south, approximately 730m and 920m SW of the burnt mound. This suggests that this part of the landscape had been intensively utilised by people in the Neolithic period, probably several centuries before the burnt mound developed. It is probable that the burnt mound was part of a wider contemporary landscape of settlement and land-use.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular prehistoric society and the construction and use of burnt mounds, and their placing in the landscape. The good preservation of the monument and its proximity to other sites relating to prehistoric settlement and land-use enhance this potential. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand the nature of later prehistoric domestic and ritual practice, both in Shetland and in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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