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Vord Hill, chambered cairns, cairn, enclosure and watch-house, Fetlar

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.6209 / 60°37'15"N

Longitude: -0.8651 / 0°51'54"W

OS Eastings: 462214

OS Northings: 1193597

OS Grid: HU622935

Mapcode National: GBR S06N.XWB

Mapcode Global: XHF7Y.59FP

Entry Name: Vord Hill, chambered cairns, cairn, enclosure and watch-house, Fetlar

Scheduled Date: 5 August 1998

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7753

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive); Prehistoric ritual and funera

Location: Fetlar

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises an area of the summit of Vord Hill containing three prehistoric cairns, two of which are clearly chambered, a double enclosure and a recent watch-house.

Vord Hill North chambered cairn is a large cairn by Shetland standards, measuring some 17m NE-SW by 15m. It has a slightly concave facade on the SE side, with no sign of an entrance. The facade, and a kerb around the rest of the cairn, are formed by a line of large, contiguous boulders. A possible inner kerb or revetment can be seen within the W side and also possibly to the NE. Several large blocks near the centre of the cairn probably mark a burial chamber. This cairn stands 1.3m high.

Vord Hill South chambered cairn lies about 150m away, and has more distinctive features. It measures about 12m ENE-WSW by 11m NNW-SSE, with a concave facade on the SSE, from which an entrance passage leads to a partially-ruined burial chamber. Six of the lintels of the passage are in situ. The chamber measures about 2.7m by 1.6m, and the boulders forming its S side stand upright. The outer kerb of the cairn is visible only in the N part of the circuit.

This cairn stands at least 1.5m high, but its outline has been disturbed by removal of stone to construct a rectangular wartime watch-house just S of the facade and also a double enclosure. The latter is bounded by low drystone walling and takes the form of two conjoined ovals with the cairn at the junction point. The enclosure is likely to be considerably later than the cairn itself.

The third cairn lies on the very highest point of the hilltop, just NE of the triangulation pillar and 70m ESE of the South chambered cairn. It is built of smaller stone and stands lower. It has a distinct heel-shaped plan, almost semi-circular, with a slightly concave facade facing SE. Two slabs set back from the centre of the facade may mark a passage, but there is no clear sign of a central chamber.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular quadrilateral on plan, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. It has sides of length 155m (SSW), 180m (WNW), 45m (N) and 220m (E), and includes all three cairns, the double enclosure and the ruined watchhouse, as well as an area around all of these in which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive. The Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar is excluded from scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a group of prehistoric burial cairns of varied types. Individually and as a group, these have the potential to provide important information about prehistoric ritual and funerary practices. The inter-relationship of the three cairns would be of particular interest if it could be established. The enclosure and watch-house provide examples of the continuing importance of hill-top sites.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HU 69 SW 3.


Henshall, A. S. (1963) The chambered tombs of Scotland, Vol. 1, 179-80, Edinburgh.

RCAHMS (1946) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3v. 57, No. 1215, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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