Ancient Monuments

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Hill of Fielie,remains of leper colony on north slope,Papa Stour

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland West, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.3195 / 60°19'10"N

Longitude: -1.6971 / 1°41'49"W

OS Eastings: 416833

OS Northings: 1159524

OS Grid: HU168595

Mapcode National: GBR Q15G.F4T

Mapcode Global: XHBVG.8WW9

Entry Name: Hill of Fielie,remains of leper colony on N slope,Papa Stour

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6386

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: leper colony

Location: Walls and Sandness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland West

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument consists of the remains of a small enclosed settlement, traditionally described as a leper colony.

The remains are defined by an enclosure of irregular form, measuring about 72m along the hillside by 64m up and down slope. The top side is marked only by occasional large boulders, but on the other three sides the boundary has taken the form of a substantial wall, now tumbled.

Within this enclosure, which has no clear entrance, are a large number of stone and turf mounds. Most of these appear to be the remains of field clearance, but some larger examples occur, of which at least 4 appear to have been roofed oval huts, measuring only about 2m by 3m internally. Immediately outwith the E boundary is a stone-lined well or spring, which still affords water.

According to local tradition, recorded in the Old Statistical Account, Papa, along with other parts of Shetland, practised the segregation of those believed to have leprosy, although modern studies suggest the complaint may have been the result of dietary deficiencies rather than true leprosy. The practice of segregation had already died out by the mid-eighteenth century.

Tradition states that "lepers" were excluded from contact with society and built small individual huts in which to shelter. These huts were allowed to collapse after their occupants died. "Lepers" were supported by the community, who left food at agreed points on the boundary of the colony, but also tried to grow some food for themselves.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular quadrilateral, extending approximately 10m beyond the enclosure wall on all sides. It measures a maximum of 120m WNW-ESE by 80m transversely, to include the enclosure, the huts and mounds within it and the stone-lined well on the E exterior, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a rare field survival of evidence for a formerly widespread social practice. It also provides an insight into the absolute lowest level of human existence in the post-medieval and early modern periods. As a site documented, albeit by tradition, it may shed light upon other similar but undocumented sites.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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