Ancient Monuments

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Gorda Water,"meal" road to north of,Papa Stour

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland West, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.3342 / 60°20'3"N

Longitude: -1.6972 / 1°41'49"W

OS Eastings: 416818

OS Northings: 1161163

OS Grid: HU168611

Mapcode National: GBR Q15F.72L

Mapcode Global: XHBVG.8JV0

Entry Name: Gorda Water,"meal" road to N of,Papa Stour

Scheduled Date: 14 May 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6385

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: road

Location: Walls and Sandness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland West

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises a stretch of "meal" road, a track built as part of a 19th-century famine relief scheme. Flour or "meal" was given as payment for the construction of these roads, which were often not strictly necessary, to avoid the stigma of charity.

Though many stretches of road and track built in such schemes throughout the Highlands and Islands in the mid to late 19th Century, very few survive in good condition without resurfacing. The survival of the Papa Stour examples can probably be attributed to their narrow gauge (designed for small carts and pack ponies rather than larger waggons) which prevented their being easily made up into motor roads, and simply the scarcity of motor transport on the small island into recent years.

This stretch is one of the two best-preserved. It runs for about 700m, from just S of the Loch That Ebbs & Flows to the crest of the low ridge W of Olligarth. Beyond this, to the E, it has been resurfaced but the line continues to join up with the network of tarred roads in public use. It is formed of rammed small stones, edged with larger blocks.

It crosses the burn out of Gorda Water by a lintelled culvert. Just E of this, a short stretch of 20m is omitted from scheduling, because the structure has been effectively removed by recent activity. The width of the track is about 3m, but varies slightly. It is cut into the upper slope in places, and also occasionally embanked, and for short stretches is flanked by open ditches to carry off rainwater.

The area to be scheduled is a strip 25m wide and approximately 700m long, omitting a stretch of 20m as noted above. This includes the track, its flanking ditches where present and all associated ditches and culverts. This is shown in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a very rare survival of an unmodernised stretch of road built as a famine relief labour project. It throws light upon social conditions in 19th-century Shetland, and in particular the lack of sources of income and instability of the economic basis which led to large scale emigration.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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