Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Houll Tafts, remains of rectangular house, Colvadale, Unst

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.7199 / 60°43'11"N

Longitude: -0.8583 / 0°51'29"W

OS Eastings: 462393

OS Northings: 1204627

OS Grid: HP623046

Mapcode National: GBR S07D.M9K

Mapcode Global: XHF7C.8T5B

Entry Name: Houll Tafts, remains of rectangular house, Colvadale, Unst

Scheduled Date: 2 March 1998

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7658

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 sub-rectangular house of probable Viking or Norse-Medieval date, together with other, less well-defined, archaeological remains.

On a slight rise close to the shore is a sub-rectangular wall footing, composed of large stones and partly turf-covered. This measures some 15m long internally, and is aligned NE-SW. It has distinctly bowed side walls, and measures from 4m to 5m across. There are indistinct traces of further structures on the mound (which may be entirely the result of an accumulation of occupation debris and structural remains), although these are hard to disentangle from later field boundaries. The sloping ground nearby is slightly terraced, and this may pre-date the more recent field walls.

The area to be scheduled is a circle 50m across, centred on the house, to include the house, the mound on which it stands and an area around in which evidence relating to the construction and use of the house and its ancillary buildings may survive. This 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 characteristic. 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



RCAHMS records the monument as HP 60 SW 21.


Stummann-Hansen, S. (1994) Report No. 16. Houll Trafts ' Colvedale.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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