Ancient Monuments

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Hoini to Vaasetter, boundary dyke, Fair Isle

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 59.5316 / 59°31'53"N

Longitude: -1.6362 / 1°38'10"W

OS Eastings: 420676

OS Northings: 1071799

OS Grid: HZ206717

Mapcode National: GBR Q39J.YVF

Mapcode Global: XHD63.2PM8

Entry Name: Hoini to Vaasetter, boundary dyke, Fair Isle

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6582

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: linear earthwork

Location: Dunrossness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland South

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises two stretches of very substantial boundary dyke, formed of accumulated turf and soil over a stone core. This monument is known in Fair Isle as the Fealie or Feely Dyke (from feal, the Shetland word for turf), and may be of prehistoric origin.

The dyke is in two sections, which join near the W cliffs of the island. The N stretch is the longer, and runs from the cliff edge at the head of a deep inlet downslope in an ESE direction to just N of Vaasetter, a distance of just over 700m, curving towards the SE just before its present termination. Originally it continued to the SE for some considerable further distance, possibly for the full 400m which would have bisected the island, but the E portion has been removed by ploughing.

The route of this vanished portion can still be clearly seen from the air. The dyke is up to 8m wide at the base and stands up to 2m high along much of its length. It divided the common grazing land (to the N) from the croft land (to the S), a function now performed by a relatively recent stone wall to the immediate N. The second length of dyke is of similar composition but slightly smaller in scale. It runs 250m SE from the its junction with the longer section, petering out in a field. It, too, probably ran further before agricultural activity reduced it.

The area to be scheduled defined as a strip 20m wide centred on the crest of each stretch of the dyke. The W part of the longer portion is bounded on the N by the S side of the recent drystone dyke. It ends at the cliff on the W and at a field boundary on the E. The area to be scheduled has the shape of an unequal-armed "V", with the longer arm measuring approximately 750m from the apex of the "V" to the end, and the shorter arm measuring approximately 260m.

The width of each arm is 20m, and where they join this creates a maximum breadth of 40m. This rather complex area is shown in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a fine example of a 'treb' dyke, of a type found in the northern isles of Orkney as well as in southern Shetland. Such dykes are believed to have prehistoric origins, in the Bronze Age or even Neolithic period. This example appears to have a clear agricultural function, but in times of former better climate, when settlement was present to the N as well as to S, may have functioned as a territorial divide. The monument will seal beneath its bulk evidence for its date of creation and for contemporary land use and environmental conditions.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HZ 27 SW 219.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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