Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Shadow Cottage, rectangular house to west of ruined croft, Unst

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.7341 / 60°44'2"N

Longitude: -0.9461 / 0°56'46"W

OS Eastings: 457574

OS Northings: 1206124

OS Grid: HP575061

Mapcode National: GBR S00C.H36

Mapcode Global: XHF7B.3GKG

Entry Name: Shadow Cottage, rectangular house to W of ruined croft, Unst

Scheduled Date: 2 March 1998

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7653

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: house

Location: Unst

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises the remains of a house of Viking or Norse-Medieval date.

The house has the typical shape of a probable early Norse period farmstead, but is of unusually massive construction. The inner wall-face is of particularly large slabs, and the turf-covered wall footings are about 1.5m thick on average. The house is about 16m by 4m internally, with slightly bowed side walls, and is aligned E-W, up and down the slope.

On the S side there is an additional structure almost as long as the house but only 3m across internally, connected to the main house by a gap in their mutual wall. A smaller subsidiary building appears to lie outside the addition at its downslope end, and a separate subsidiary building lies some 12m to the SW.

The area to be scheduled is a rectangle measuring some 60m E-W by 50m, to include the house and its various additions and outbuildings, as well as an area around these in which traces of activities associated with their construction and use may be preserved.

This area includes a portion of the old field boundary dyke upslope from the house, under which are likely to be preserved deposits which could provide information about the local history of land-use. The area is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a rare occurrence of a house of probable early Norse date identifiable on field characteristics, although with unusually massive walls. Of particular interest are the several extensions and outbuildings, and also the massive head-dyke upslope which may preserve deposits with palaeo-environmental potential.

It gains additional importance as a member of a group of several such sites on the island of Unst. The important evidence regarding Norse settlement and agricultural economy which this monument can provide could be further expanded by comparative study of the related monuments in the island, several of which are being scheduled at this time.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland




Stummann-Hansen, S. (1994) Report No. 3. Shadow Cottage.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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