Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Malcolm's Head, lookout tower, Fair Isle

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 59.522 / 59°31'19"N

Longitude: -1.6555 / 1°39'19"W

OS Eastings: 419589

OS Northings: 1070728

OS Grid: HZ195707

Mapcode National: GBR Q38K.N5Z

Mapcode Global: XHBZB.TXMM

Entry Name: Malcolm's Head, lookout tower, Fair Isle

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6586

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Lookout tower; Secular: lookout tower

Location: Dunrossness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland South

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises the remains of a watch tower of Napoleonic date, standing just off the summit of Malcolm's Head, a prominent hill in the SW of Fair Isle.

The tower has been 5m square, with walls surviving to a maximum of 2.2m high. It is well constructed of mortared stone, with substantial quoins. The N wall has been almost completely removed. In the S, and tallest surviving, wall is an opening about 1m wide, closed by later masonry. There are remains of later (probably World War 1 and/or 2) lookout posts of brick and concrete close to the N, but these are very ruined.

The area to be scheduled is circular, 40m in diameter, to include the tower and the remains of nearby, later structures, as shown in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a rare survival of the remains of a coastal lookout station. Such watch towers probably existed on Fair Isle from early times, and this Napoleonic-period example was in turn replaced later examples and eventually by radar, indicating the continued importance of Fair Isle in schemes of maritime safety and national defence.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HZ 17 SE 31.


Hunter, J. R. (ed.) (1984) Fair Isle survey: interim 1984, Bradford University Schools of Archaeological Sciences and Physics Occasional Papers, No. 5 Bradford. No. 72.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.