Ancient Monuments

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Kirk Holm,monastic settlement,Sand

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland West, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.1975 / 60°11'51"N

Longitude: -1.3928 / 1°23'34"W

OS Eastings: 433766

OS Northings: 1146060

OS Grid: HU337460

Mapcode National: GBR Q1XS.GHM

Mapcode Global: XHD2X.8YB9

Entry Name: Kirk Holm,monastic settlement,Sand

Scheduled Date: 22 February 1993

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5629

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: precinct walls

Location: Sandsting

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland West

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument consists of the remains of a settlement, almost certainly a monastic establishment of early medieval date, located on the E side of the small islet called Kirk Holm.

The settlement consists of the foundations of eight rectangular structures, each having rounded corners. They vary from 13.5m by 4.7m overall down to 10.0m by 3.9m. Their walls are about 1m wide and turf-covered. Six of the houses lie close together and are aligned NNE-SSW, with entrances towards the sea. A further house, severely eroded, lies just to the N, and another some 40m beyond this.

The two last-mentioned have been subject to erosion, as have the seawrd ends of the group of six. There are no visible traces of any associated structures or boundaries. The location, nature of the remains and the placename suggest an ecclesiastical origin, presumably as an

eremitical establishment. The likely date would be 11th or 12th century AD, on analogy with other monastic settlements in Shetland and beyond.

The area to be scheduled is irregular, consisting of the entire northern end of the islet above the steep but low rocky cliffs. It measures a maximum of 130m N-S by 50m transversely, and includes all the houses of the settlement and an area between and around them in which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a good example of a possible Norse-Medieval period monastic establishment, of the same nature as examples elsewhere in Shetland and Orkney. The closest analogies are with Strandibrough on Fetlar and the settlement on the S side of the Brough of Birsay. The monument has the potential, through archaeological excavation and analysis, to provide importance information about the organisation and development of the church in the Northern Isles.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HU34NW 6.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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